“Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure… than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt
Our understanding of failure has a long ways to progress as a culture and a society. This is one of the significant pieces of “Soft Technology” that we have yet to have a mature relationship with.
This is easy to see from the connotations associated with the word in the first place. There are not many more negative ways to describe a project or an individual, than as a failure. It implies that not only was there a lack of success, but that it was inherently doomed to not be successful because of some inherent lack. Somehow this word carries so much more weight than simply than to state that a person or project did not achieve it’s goals.
“Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.” – Voltaire
In school we are taught the concept of the ‘5 W’s’ , ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘where’, when’, and ‘why’. In theory these questions should be sufficient to collect the information you need to explain whatever you’re investigating to others.
The problem with this concept is that it groups four very straightforward questions ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘where’, ‘when’, with one very subjective and elusive question; ‘why?’. ‘Why’ is an incredibly powerful question because it forces us to evaluate the purpose or cause of something. For example, why are you reading this article? Chances are there is a convenient answer that could be used (‘I saw the link on facebook’), but in reality there are many answers required if we are looking for understanding.