Friday, May 25, 2012

Inspirational or disheartening?

A few weeks ago, I read the following quote, attributed to Winston Churchill:  "Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm."  My immediate reaction was negative - I don't like the idea of viewing my life to date as a series of failures.  I do, however, agree that maintaining enthusiasm is a critical piece of moving forward positively in life.  So I put the quote aside with a shrug "whatever, Winston..."

Earlier this week, a friend posted the same quote on Facebook, so I commented about my earlier thoughts about it and we had a little back and forth.  My friend said something (with a smiley face) about perhaps Winston's opinions were colored by his experience of being attacked by the Nazis. 

And this quote and my thoughts about it have stuck with me now for several days.  Quite frankly, I think when a person is facing some big event (i.e. attack by the Nazis?) and something doesn't go the way you hope, it is my experience that while an initially lull occurs with the disappointment, if you have the chance to redeem yourself, or take a shot at those damn Nazis again, it might be easy to rally your enthusiasm. 

On the other hand, rallying enthusiasm to face another day of the same old same old is hard!  I admire people who can come to work every day with a genuine smile on their face, even when you know their job is difficult or boring or unpleasant.  I strive to be that person - to meet every day with renewed enthusiasm to do what needs to be done and keep my eyes open for the blessings that sometime appear where you least expect them. 

As for the "failure to failure" piece of that quote ... either I haven't had very many (or any) "failures" or else I am in complete denial and am somehow recategorizing things as something else.  I have had my share of heartbreak - in relationships, in my career, in my personal life goals - but am I wrong for not calling any of those "failures"?  Sure, I could have done things differently or made different choices, but I would never say that I failed at anything.  I auditioned for the Concert Choir in college one year and was the last person cut from my section.  Did I fail?  I was hugely disappointed (the Concert Choir had a European tour that year) and hurt and sad and mad, but I didn't fail - I stood there and I tried.  I didn't make it but that doesn't mean I failed.  I am no historian but I'm confident in saying that the Nazis bombed the crap out of Great Britain during Churchill's tenure, but does that make him a failure?  Not in my opinion. 

1 comment:

  1. Lots of resonation here..... I make every effort to go into work each day, ready to tackle whatever challenges occur. It is one of my strongest work goals to be seen as upbeat, cheerful, and never - repeat NEVER - bitchy or whiny. When I have to whine, I shut the office door and confide in one or two trusted souls - who can vent to me too when necessary. Whining is useless and it irritates the hell out of me - why should I then impose my whining on the world?
    I also seldom think of my life in terms of failure. I gained so much from some things that did not work out - a marriage, a couple of international adventures come to mind immediately. I also wonder if I haven't risked enough, if I have stayed too comfortably ensconced in my comfort zone. It's restful in here and that is important. Not too jazzed about the world at the moment so I stay where I can easily protect myself. C'est le vie.

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