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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The people who fail try just as hard

Henry Worsley's last message is a rare episode in the narrative of human accomplishment. It's not often we get to hear the sound of somebody failing. But, as he says, the same thing happened to Ernest Shackleton. He shot his bolt. He came up short.

The same thing happens to most people who try difficult things. They fail. All political careers end in failure. The team trudging off the pitch disconsolate and empty-handed at the end of the big final tried just as hard as the team dancing with joy for the cameras.

Because we can't face this truth we always tell ourselves that the winners - whether explorers, athletes, politicians, actors or scientists - won through because they tried harder and longer than anyone else. They didn't. The only difference between the winners and the losers is this. They won.

5 comments:

  1. ......and despite arguments to the contrary e.g. you make your own luck - chance plays its part!

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  2. This is one of the saddest things about our current attitude towards sporting events like the Olympics. To use the hideous contemporary phrase, "medalling" is everything. Our national support, not only emotional but, outrageously, administrative and financial, is given only to those who win, or have a prospect of winning. Yet those who lose also put everything into their attempt - the only thing is, someone else was better.

    Whatever happened to that notion that it is not the winning, but the taking part?

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  3. Dennis Healey once observed that he'd rather people ask why he wasn't Prime minister than ask why he was.

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  4. There are many things to be won, not just a trophy. A losing sportsman for instance can still win plaudits, new fans or even a media career.

    My son came last in all the individual races at his nursery sports day a few summers ago. But during the sibling race he was the only one to wait for his little sister and hold her hand until she crossed the line too. In last place.

    Who won the most?

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  5. I am happier now that I treat my work (whether it's paid or just something I'm doing in my spare time) as a vocation. It's an ongoing process with ups and downs. When I fail it doesn't seem to matter so much because the failures and the successes don't stand alone. They're a part of something much bigger.

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