Tuesday, February 3, 2009

On Failure

I interviewed one of Jeff's glass blowing friends yesterday for a class assignment and he said so many interesting things that I have to share a bit.

This is what he said about failure:

"I think failure is a great thing. I think people should be embracing their failures so that they can keep moving. But if you blanket your failures, you kind of get stuck with your failures for ever, ever, and ever. And that’s easy to do. I think it’s trickier to say no, I screwed up, that was me. I’m having a bad day or whatever, but I did that. I screwed up. I think glass is one of those materials where you have a lot of opportunities of screwing up. And it’s really cool like that."

Also, in talking about glass blowing:

"But there is something fascinating about how you’re forced to identify what you just did. And what you just did and what you think you did are commonly very different from one another. And if you can figure out what you think you did and identify what you did do, then you’re learning something. You can actually get somewhere and make something better or quicker. But if you can’t separate those two or bring them together, then you can’t do anything."

-Jerry Kung, glass artist, Oakland, CA


  1. As someone who many *might* consider successful (or might not), but doesn't consider himself successful, i.e., a failure (often if not always*), that is wonderful commentary to hear. Thanks for sharing it.

    *Sorry to sound so depressing.

  2. Hi, Anonymous at 10:32,

    I think it's a wonderful commentary too. I hope you embrace what you deem to be your "failure" and find yourself unstuck in the not too distant future. Best of luck to you.


  3. Here is a quote attributed to Michael Jordan: "I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times, I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed."

    I love that.

    Hilariously (to me), my "word verification" for this comment is "machwal".

  4. I've been tuning in to your blog for about a month, after being laid off from a consulting firm. Thank you so much for sharing your insights (on career and on pregnancy) so openly. You are truly an inspiration.

  5. Eingy, love that quote! I'll add it to my collection.

    Anonymous at 3:19, I'm so sorry to hear about your lay off. I hope you're hanging in there. And thanks so much for reading. I really appreciate it.

  6. Seems to me that traditionally men have been taught to define themselves by their jobs, making failure and career change terrifying propositions (and also leading them to neglect other aspects of their lives). As women have increasingly shared in the autonomy and fulfillment of careers, they also get to share in the associated cognitive disorders. What do you think?

  7. @eingy,

    That was for an advert.
    It's some writer's tidy and cathy sum. Sorry!

  8. D'oh! :) Still a nice thought.