I came across a wonderful quote by the great inventor Thomas Edison a while back, “I’ve never failed,” he said, “I discovered ten thousand ways that don’t work.” It’s inspirational because it advises persistence, that failing at anything is in the discontinuation and that so long as one picks oneself up and continues on then it’s just part of the process and the eventuality of success.
More recently I heard words regarding failure that I found even more profound. I was running when I heard them and I actually stopped and stood there, breathing and sweating with traffic on one side of me and an open field of overgrown grass on the other. It wasn’t a notion on how I should think or how I ought to strive to be, but rather the words struck me because it is something I believe to be true about my person, my beliefs and my ethical being at this very moment, now.
The short version is that a boy was born without vision and at the time no surgeries were available to treat his condition. So his parents did what they could to raise him with minimal attention to his difference. Of course, as he got older he became aware of his difference and then his parents made certain that he understood that he could have a rich, meaningful and successful life with four, rather than five, senses. At some point in his adult life the surgery to correct his eyes became possible and he decided to have the operation. There was a chance that it wouldn’t work, but the chances of success were greater.
Here’s where the story hit me. It was in the wording of this man deciding to have the surgery. “He wanted it so badly, he was willing to risk failure.” That, to me, is what it is to be a fighter. All I want is to improve, to get better as a fighter and to eventually be able to look at myself and say that I’m a great fighter. It’s a process and, for me, it’s slow. But I want it so badly that I am willing to risk failure. I’m willing to risk losing, to risk being bettered repeatedly by opponents who have advantages over me, because I want so badly to get better. And I do fail – I lose and I get my ass kicked. And I don’t always see or feel the improvement; I just have to have faith that it’s there. And I guess the reward for being willing to risk failure is that even though I do fail, even though I err and fall, so long as I don’t stop it doesn’t become a permanent state. It becomes one of ten thousands ways that don’t work.