The Beauty of Failure

Don’t let the internet rush you, no one is posting their failures.” – Wesley Snipes

The other day I failed for the second time to guess a Wordle and learned another life lesson as exemplified by this word game. By the way, no knowledge or affinity for Wordle is necessary to understand this life lesson but for anyone who hasn’t tried Wordle and is curious, here are the basics:

You have six tries to guess a five letter word. You are not given any information to start with but when you enter a guess, you are told if you have any right letters and they are green if correct in the right spot and yellow if they are used on the word but in the wrong spot. There is one word per day.

By the third guess I’d figured out the pattern was _ O _ E R

There were too many possible combinations – LOWER, MOVER, CODER, JOKER so I didn’t work out FOYER within the allotted 6 guesses.

But here’s what I noticed – it was WAY easier to fail the second time. The first time ended my 50 win streak and I was pierced, more than felt reasonable for a silly word game.

Noticing this, I think failing helps me shake the belief that I can be perfect. The longer streak that I had, the more brittle I became about not failing. It felt like there’s a longer way to fall, even if it’s just a silly word game.

It reminded me of a definition of perfection that Brené Brown provides in her book, The Gifts of Imperfection. “Perfection is the belief that if we live perfect, look perfect and act perfect, we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgment and shame. It’s a shield. Perfectionism is a twenty-ton shield that we lug around thinking it will protect us when, in fact, it is the thing that’s really preventing us from taking flight.”

I’m not advocating practicing failing. But I am suggesting talking about it and laughing about it when we do. For me, it doesn’t change the impression of anyone around me who are well aware I’m not perfect. But it does penetrate my illusion that I think I can or have to maintain some persona that is impervious to failure. Even the fact that I have an ego still after years of meditating to find the Unity in life needs piercing.

So, thank you, Wordle. Not only for the two minutes of daily entertainment but a few good life lessons too!

(featured photo by Pexels)

45 thoughts on “The Beauty of Failure

  1. Hi Wynne,

    I wonder if you realize the perfect lessons that you’re sharing via your writing. The content that you share is rich, so very rich. Perfectionism–I visited that beast many times in the past. From boyhood memory, I remember carving small boats out of pine. They “had” to be perfect–no splits or cracks allowed. Thank you for helping guide people to an easier way to live. Btw, I play Merriam-Webster word game, “how strong is your vocabulary?” every day. For love….now.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you, Art. That is a very kind and encouraging comment. I’m grateful that my spiritual lessons resonate in such a way that I can pass it on.

      That sounds like a really fun word game. I’ll have to check it out!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. There are others who have made this discovery as well, producing a number of great quotes. Two I like are

    “Perfectionism doesn’t believe in practice shots. It doesn’t believe in improvement. Perfectionism has never heard that anything worth doing is worth doing badly–and that if we allow ourselves to do something badly we might in time become quite good at it. Perfectionism measures our beginner’s work against the finished work of masters. Perfectionism thrives on comparison and competition. It doesn’t know how to say, “Good try,” or “Job well done.” The critic does not believe in creative glee–or any glee at all, for that matter. No, perfectionism is a serious matter.”
    ― Julia Cameron, Finding Water: The Art of Perseverance

    It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.
    Franklin Roosevelt

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I love those quotes, Vic! The way Julie Cameron calls out what perfectionism is is brilliant. And Franklin Roosevelt – “admit it frankly.” Yes!! Thank you for sending these – such great wisdom!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I liked your explanation of the game and the lesson you found. I suppose I understand why we all wish for a life with carefree and abundance – aka perfection but I think the real goal should be contentment and the strength to be hopeful and move forward. I enjoy biographies a great deal and despite their lives of fame and wealth, I think many of them lacked contentment and real joy. They had no lack for means but in the pursuit of wealth they wasted time to enjoy life which is more about simple pleasures than mansions.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oops – sent that reply before I meant to. Good thing I’m not going for perfect. 🙂

      I love what you say here, “they wasted time to enjoy life which is more about simple measures than mansions.” Amen! And I couldn’t agree more about the real goal should be contentment and the strength to move forward. Well said, David!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Per-fect-ion. Truly a difficult burden to carry around!

    “The longer streak that I had, the more brittle I became about not failing.”

    Isn’t this so true of our fragile egos? When we’re on a streak we can feel invincible!

    I’ve reached level 774 in a Majong game and it now takes me a few tries to solve the puzzle.

    At first I was dismayed that I was no longer solving one after the other in a stream, but once I flipped the script in my mind to see myself as a “puzzle player”, I was able to let go of that inner “Arghhh”!

    I realized that I simply enjoyed the activity and that solving a level was just a little extra fun!

    I’ve been applying that same way of thinking to other aspects of my life and I find it helps me relax more and release the self imposed stresses!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So interesting about the Mahjong game. I love how you put it – the inner “Arghh!!” Let’s kiss that good-bye!

      And yes, let’s all relax more and release the self-imposed stresses! Beautiful wisdom, Tamara!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Wow. This is just about the wisest thing that I have ever read. You are a gift to blog-o-sphere, Wynne. I truly mean that. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. I benefit so much from reading your posts each day. Have a blessed day, my friend ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  6. It’s very funny you posted about failure today. We had a work meeting today talking about a “Fail Camp” event we’re organizing this fall for our staff to teach people about the importance of failure and recovering my failure. It’s a necessary part of life – including parenting.

    And I hear you on the Wordle streak failures. The first one hurts but you get used to it. And those guessing game words – the ones that could practically be anything – are so annoying.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. The Stoics reminded us not to be too concerned with what others think of us. That reduces our desire to live by their standards and judgement of what is of value rather than one of our own invention.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That sounds like a wise way to go and one that needs to be practiced. I suspect our caveman fears of being ostracized and therefore outside of the group protection still run strong so most of us have to work at it to run counter to that, right?

      Like

  8. I hear two separate, and both great questions.

    The first is about the view we get from Insta and its fellow travelers of people’s lives: always happy, always on the go, always … perfect. And we look at ourselves, and we feel we don’t measure up to that level of perfection? And, yes, it’s much more prevalent and much more extreme online, but like the Dove Evolution example, it’s been there, and we’ve fallen for it. What are your thoughts about how we stand against it?

    The second is something I’ve noticed in a talk at work: people feel that if they take a risk, they’re putting their jobs on the line. Not everyone can afford to put their jobs at risk, and so fewer risks are taken. When I brought that up as an issue, it was explained to me that enough preparation will minimize the risks to the point they’re not there. But that brought to mind the $1,000 ashtray that can withstand a nuclear attack, but is more than most can afford. So how do we find the golden path?

    BTW, I love Wordles, and I use the plural form because I found 5 different ones, a map one, a 4-words at a time one, etc. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. As always, you’ve asked the key questions. Any individual method, like for me my meditation path that helps me to come into the truth of the human condition and my authenticity in the face of the onslaught, does nothing for the collective – like teenagers or my children to face the same. And that frightens me for the pressure it puts on young minds. But I figure if I talk about it so that someone else can talk about it and so on, maybe it’s a ripple that makes a difference??

      As for your second scenario, it’s another good one. Company culture has to be developed to the point that there’s enough trust to be risky. Otherwise we’ll all just keep doing the same thing, right?

      Tell me that you have a solution!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you! It’s your post that provoked them…

        It does put unreasonable pressure on minds, especially the very susceptible young ones, and, sadly, the young minds succumb to it. I read somewhere that the Dove Evolution video came as a response to data that showed that one of the favorite pre-teens gift requests is plastic surgery. Pre-teens!

        All the real solutions seem to require more time and effort than most are willing to put into it. It’s easier to do more “trust exercises” and “team building events” 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Pre-teens asking for plastic surgery. Good grief!

        I suppose it all takes a great load of courage. May we all figure out how to get it, give it and support it!

        Like

  9. It is an eye opening experience. Tonight at taekwondo I wasn’t overly concerned about listening to instructions. He usually is correcting my kids. I’m the adult, I’ve got this. Then he grabs my foot mid-round kick and points out what I’m doing wrong. How long have I been doing this wrong while thinking I had it down?! Sigh.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. “Don’t let the internet rush you, no one is posting their failures.” Ain’t that the truth! I figure that I do what I can when it comes to social media– and it is rarely perfect which is fine by me, a former perfectionist. I’ve learned.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Trust you to find the hidden gem within the multiple word puzzle choices. You may have lost the winning streak, but you’ve won the wisdom! The twenty-ton shield that keeps us from flight . . . what an image!

    Liked by 1 person

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