All good conversations start with a confession, so here’s mine: I feel like a failure.
You’ll notice that I said I feel like a failure rather than I am a failure because that is the nugget of what I’m going to be writing about here in The Failure Chronicles for Work It, Mom! How feeling like a failure is different from actually being a failure, and how anyone — no matter how un-failure-like they may appear to be to most people — can be consumed with the notion that they are a complete and utter loser. Which is just one of the many good things about failure: anyone can succeed at it.
No one likes to talk about failure, it seems, except me. This is very strange since in almost every other discipline or field of study outside of psychology and human development focusing on failure is the one true route to success: improvements in engineering and computer design and product development are almost always the consequence of structural or system failures; medical and drug testing studies what doesn’t work in order to find out what does work; and the Harvard Business School case-study method of understanding what makes successful companies by studying unsuccessful companies has become the model for most business school curriculum. But for some reason, focusing on missed opportunities or mistakes made in our personal and professional lives is still taboo. Talking about personal failure in normal conversation brands someone instantly as a depressive, a downer, a buzz-killer, a drag: a neurotic anti-optimist who should spend less time focusing on failure and more time trying to be successful.
As strange as it may sound, what I hope to do here on Work It, Mom! is the exact opposite: I’m going to be spending more time focusing on failure and less time trying to be successful. Because it’s my true belief (not to mention obsession) that focusing on failure -- the relativity of it (and the relativity of success), the upside of it (yes, there is an upside to failure), and the humor of it (yes, failure can be funny: trust me, you’ll see) – ultimately leads to the unlikeliest of places: success.
Failing seems to be what most working moms feel they’re doing most of the time, even if most of the time they’re doing an amazing job doing exactly the opposite: not failing. But with all the responsibilities of motherhood [the naps the snacks the clothes the cooking the cleaning the calendar the school the soccer the gymnastics the trains the dinosaurs the Goldfish the Bratz the Webkinz] – and all the responsibilities of employment [the work the deadlines the panic the pressure the angst the bills the bills the bills did I mention the bills?] – not to mention all the responsibilities of coupledom [the marriage the marriage the marriage] it’s no wonder that most of us, most of the time, feel like we’ve failed at something every single day.