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Tuesday, August 2, 2016

If You're Not Failing, You're Not Trying Hard Enough

Five minutes ago I was in the workroom, nipping and filing some wire to make stacker rings.  Some of my nips were at an angle so I proceeded to file them straight (perpendicular to the piece of wire).

And my mind, in its usual wandering fashion asked, "What if instead of filing the ends of the wire straight up and down, I filed them at an angle?  I'd still be able to solder them together so long as I had two flat surfaces."

And then the other part of my mind responded with, "Yeah, but it's probably not as cool as you think it'd be.  They would most likely just look like you messed up your solder join."

And then the first part gave the response I love: "Maybe, but you don't know until you try."

I love my workshop failures.  They say to me that I am trying.  I'm trying new things, I'm working outside the box, I'm not letting history dictate my work, and I'm eager to innovate.

Both my children played youth hockey and I recall one statement by a coach that really stuck with me.  He said, "If you're not falling down, you're not skating hard enough."  It was a simple and profound message.  If you never fail, you're most likely playing it safe, not pushing yourself hard enough, and "safe" doesn't become best.  "Safe" doesn't create new inventions.  "Safe" isn't a leader.

In my workroom I have drawers and drawers of failed experiments.  These are treasures.  While they're unusable, many were stepping stones to some new technique or some new design element that needed to be worked out, thought through, and practiced.

Without my drawers of failed attempts, I would have no progress.


  1. Too true. How else do we learn and feed our creativity than trying things out? Creativity is not much use if you can't don't at least try turning it into something more tangible.
    I remember one my kids' teachers in primary school (elememtary in your lingo LOL) whose maxim was 'have a go'. That stuck with me, I think, more than the kids.

  2. I leave my failures out where I can see them on a regular basis. Lots of times I will look at one weeks/months later and go "ya know, if I did this and then twisted it the other direction and then mashed it down, that'd be pretty cool!".
    Some of my best ideas were tangents off of failures.


    1. Susan, that's excellent! What a great idea to revisit our failures once in a while with perhaps new insight.

  3. You're so right Laura!
    My vocal coach-choir leader had a poster up - Lucy, of Charlie Brown fame, was hollering - I may be wrong, but I'm wrong at the top of my voice! He wanted us to sing in full voice w/ confidence first, the "being in tune" would come. We had to be willing to fail "Right Out LOUD!"
    Besides, quilters, seamstresses and woodworkers all know that a mitered join is always interesting and gives a better line! You just had to figure that out with metal! At least I hope you did, Can't wait to see it!
    Keep it up, you're a great inspiration.