I've discovered this blog which is a wake-up call to all self-described pessimists (like myself): http://www.positivityblog.com/. And it had some notes on the notion of failure and this quote particularly resonated with me:
"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
I've succumbed pretty often to the stigma of failure (why try if you're going to fail?). And here we have Michael Jordan, who needs no introduction, telling us that failure helped him to succeed. A statement like that brings a whole new meaning to saying 'I failed to succeed'. Usually that means 'I failed to make things work and now I should give up', but right now that's sounding more like 'I failed so that I could succeed'.
The writer of the aforementioned blog, Henrik Edberg, discussed an interesting thing. He said something to this effect: when we first go bike riding, even after we fall off we still get back on that bike and persevere till we get it right. And how about when we're infants, our first trial of walking involves tumbles and cuts and bruises. But we don't stop.
Somehow the older you get the less often you want to make mistakes (or it might just be me), the more wrong it seems to make mistakes. There's such an emphasis on 'success', we kind of forget that mistakes are the roots of every achievement.
The irony (<- i never know when to use this word, and I so often want to use it badly) of it all is that, as a poster on Murphy's laws informed me, solutions actually lead to more questions and conflicts. So really there's no way of escaping failure.
Without failure, you can't move forward. So it's probably about time that the word didn't have such negative connotations. I say failure should be the new success (kind of like the way you hear fashionistas says 'pink is the new black').