The Benefits of Failure

It’s just another opportunity to learn and succeed

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I have become addicted to a game on my phone called Monster Busters.  It’s one of those match 3 in a row type games.  It starts off very simple and quickly the game board gets cluttered with a variety of obstacles and creatures designed to make it increasingly difficult to complete the task for each level.  While I’m excited to know playing games may help my brain in the long term, I am sad to admit I spend a lot of time glued to my little screen.

The time has not all been wasted.  Playing this little game has reinforced a critical life lesson that we’ve heard before but are reluctant to embrace: The Benefits of Failure.

Dictionary.com provides two different definitions of failure:
1.  lack of success
2.  the omission of expected or required action

We often focus on that first definition: our inability to achieve success.  In reality, it’s not that we didn’t achieve success, we just haven’t gotten to the results we expected.  We’re supposed to learn from our failures and do better the next time.

That’s what I’ve learned from my Monster Busters game.  The levels that I’m able to beat the first time, my scores are generally low and I don’t really understand the level; I often just got lucky. The levels that I score the highest points on are the ones that I’ve had to play several times in order to beat.  Each time I replay those levels, I get better at avoiding the obstacles, I’m more strategic about the moves I make, and I finish faster. Failing those levels end up making me a better player.

I had this illusion that when I turned 40 I would have my life together.  Unfortunately, as I look back, I often feel like a failure.  I see missed opportunities, I see so many things that didn’t work out the way I wanted them to, and I feel the heart break of not accomplishing goals.  Instead of being discouraged, it would do me better to take Thomas Edison’s perspective “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
-Michael Jordan

Written by Myrtis Smith

African American. Female. Christian. Sometimes-Vegetarian.

Wife. Mother. Daughter. Sister. Friend.

Writer. Teacher. Zumba Enthusiast.