Success is a defense mechanism

In my working life I manage a couple people and occasionally get to weigh in on decisions that impact even more people.  That little power trip got me interested in these management articles written by Harvard blowhards.  Lately the big buzzword is “failure.”  They all want to talk about how failure can be this great experience and if you embrace it you’ll breed success.  They are all fucking morons.  They’re talking about failure in the most paltry of terms.  Their idea of failure is when you propose a business decision based on careful planning and calculation and it turns out your calculations were incorrect.  Say you estimated that undertaking Project A would yield a profit of X, when really it yielded a profit of Y (or a loss of Z).  Either way, the results are undesirable, you made a mistake.  However, that’s a mistake, not a failure.  It’s a calculation error.  You might be bummed that you didn’t check your work carefully enough or your boss might be mad that money was lost, but on an emotional level, nothing bad happens.

And the success part of it?  Even further from the mark.  In their world, success is nothing more than avoidance of mistakes.  If that’s the route you take, risk becomes negligible.  You never expose yourself to the potential of mistakes and leaning toward the successful route becomes your defense mechanism.  You end up defining achievement by simply taking the safest route possible.  Regardless, it’s a very disconnected experience and you gain nothing from it on a personal level.  Sure going the success route is a good way to get promotions but a terrible way to really experience anything in your life.

Failure, on the other hand, is fantastic.  But not the failure the Harvard dorks are talking about.  Real failure is so much deeper.  Failure is when you really expose yourself and pour all your emotional energy into something that you end up hating.  It has nothing to do with the perception of others, it’s completely internal.  Failure is like jumping off a bridge believing there is a net below to catch you, and it turns out there’s nothing more than the sudden force of your body slamming into concrete.  Failure is when you really try to let out who you are on the inside, and you’re not happy with the person you meet.  It doesn’t have to be so dramatic, but that’s the idea.  Failure can happen on a much smaller scale, but it has to be a personal experience.  Tomorrow I might read this post that I’m finding so profound at this moment and think it’s gibberish.  I might think I’m just trying to make excuses for anything I’ve created that others have thought wasn’t enjoyable.  But then again, maybe not.

I think I’m on to something.  I realize I don’t know everything, I don’t have it all figured out.  And I don’t want to get into this comfort zone where I stick to the things I’m good at, where I always go the route with the greatest chance of success.  I want to fail.  I want to create things that I hate, that I’m ashamed of.  I want to keep creating new art that I don’t think is good enough because I believe someday it will drive me to create something I am satisfied with.  I think it’s the only way I can find a way to create something of substance.  Sure I could really focus on what’s successful and maybe I could be the next guy with a CD on top 40 radio.  Or I could keep attempting to find what is really buried inside my brain and end up creating something I’m proud of.


Jay Ratkowski runs this joint, which is why his name is on the front door. You can find him elsewhere at Google+, Facebook, or Twitter

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Author: Jay

Jay Ratkowski runs this joint, which is why his name is on the front door. You can find him elsewhere at Google+, Facebook, or Twitter

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