Learning from failure


I set out last week to walk the Ridgeway, it starts in Avebury and I was walking to Whipsnade, about 100 miles.  It wasn’t my first long distance path, but it was the first time I was doing it camping and carrying a big pack.  Despite some careful thought and planning I still ended up with a bag that weighed 35 lbs or more, and I have to say that it turned the whole thing into more of an endurance challenge than an exploration of the English countryside.  West Ilsley

After 3 days, 40 miles and little sleep thanks to a rather noisy road and very strong winds, I decided to bail.  After all, it had been an experiment to see if this version of long distance walking worked for me and I had concluded that it absolutely did not!  Once you know that something isn’t working that’s a good time to stop, reassess options and strategies and find out what might work.  It is common in these times of macho leadership, to assert one is right and cling to one’s decisions as a sign of strength. However, a much better example of courageous leadership is Eddie Jones, England’s rugby coach, who twice on the last successful tour of England in Australia pulled off players after only 30 minutes (which was pretty much unprecedented) and radically altered the outcomes of the games. 

It would have been nice to have achieved my goal of getting there, but actually that was a subordinate one to finding a new way to enjoy something I’d found hugely rewarding in the past.  Edison, apparently tried thousands of different things as filaments in his new electric light bulb, and each time he encountered one more that failed, he felt he was narrowing in on the one the that would work by eliminating another thing that didn’t. 

So perhaps in this success obsessed culture, we need to find ways to learn from failures.  Maybe, despite the fact that most experts and world leaders seem to feel that Brexit was a horrendous mistake, we can find a way to make it work for us… I pray we can!

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