I like to cook. This isn’t a post about cooking per se, but cooking will serve as our illustration, so bear with me. I like to cook. One part of cooking well is knowing fundamental skills, techniques, and concepts. You need to know how to use a knife properly and you need to know that cream with a lower fat content is more likely to break…you know, stuff like that. Another important part of cooking, I am coming to discover, is that you need to try and fail a lot.
I’ve recently been working on my spicy dry rub and my BBQ sauce recipes. It took a lot of permutations of both to come up with something really worthwhile (which I finally did this past week incidentally). A couple of my attempts were pretty bad. Most of them were just mediocre. The final products, if I do say so myself, are pretty damn good. I’m not quite done fiddling yet but I think that now I’m down to final edits as it were.
The problem with this process is that I’m bad at failure. Somewhere along the way as I was becoming the person that I am now I got the idea in my head that I should be good at everything right away. It sounds asinine when said so baldly but I don’t think that I’m alone in this silly assumption. I’ve met a lot of people who feel stupid for doing something wrong when there’s no earthly reason they should know how to do it right.
As I noted at the outset, this isn’t a post about cooking, this is a post about being better. I am trying very hard to learn how to fail well. Failing well means failing graciously, at times spectacularly, and always learning from my mistakes. And this isn’t to say that failing once means never failing again. At times we learn from our mistakes incrementally and many mistakes are required. At other times learning from one mistake produces another, entirely new and novel, mistake that must then be learned from itself. There are probably even some situations (maybe many situations) where mistakes are all there is and you never get it “right,” you only get it less wrong.
I want very much to become better at failing. I want to learn to take failure less seriously and more seriously. Less seriously as an infringement on my character and personal worth. More seriously as an excellent way to learn to be better.