When failure is an option


Nobody wants to fail. Nobody wants to be a failure. Well maybe there is some sick individual out there that just likes to start things that never go anywhere.

I absolutely hate when something just falls apart. I hate when things just don’t go the way you envisioned them. Or when they go exactly as you envisioned them and the result is mediocre.

I really started thinking about this as I started to paint a painting yesterday. I realized that every single painting I have ever created has another mediocre painting underneath it.

I start out with a blank canvas and a grand idea, or maybe no idea at all. But usually I have an inkling of what I want. Usually I just have to put paint on the canvas and see what happens. Invariably I will look at it and it will look like something I might have done in kindergarten, with my fingers. The funny thing is, the end result is usually exactly what I had envisioned.

So I paint over it. I have this pattern with every single painting I have ever painted.

Paint something.

Hate it.

Start over.

Failure. Failure of my vision. Failure of my ability. Failure to execute.

But is this failure. It sure feels like it. What do I do now? My vision turned out to be something that no one can appreciate. I remember reading an article from 37 signals about how learning from failure is overrated. It says that when you fail you learn what not to do but not what to do.

I somewhat agree with this but really what is failure? Is it when your idea doesn’t pan out?

Well that happens a lot. But what I notice when I am painting is the process of painting over my mistake  usually sparks a new idea. An idea that maybe is more abstract. Maybe an idea that is not that well thought out. This idea usually comes less from what I think it should be and more from my heart. Seriously, when I start again it’s usually with increased vision, increased passion, increased creativity.

Failure. What is failure?

I can see now that failure is not the fact that my idea failed. Failure is when the idea fails and I quit.

Failure is stopping at a roadblock and never moving again. It’s giving in to the pressure. It’s walking away.

Failing is not failure. Failing doesn’t make you a failure.

Failures happen, just don’t let them define you.


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Franco Vallejos

Franco Vallejos

I am the founder of ExamRefresh. A site dedicated to furthering the education of medical professionals. Education is my passion. I am the husband of 1 and the father of 4. We are transplants to Washington state but we call it home.

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  • Steve Meddaugh

    Well said!