Saturday, December 19, 2015

Deja Vu Blogfest

What a great idea!  A chance to re-post a favorite or under-seen blog post from earlier in the year.  So here you go...  One you may have missed during the A-Z challenge.

F is for Failure

The last few weeks I've been working on writing our company's new gender policy and as such, I've been doing a lot of reading about gender equality and initiatives similar businesses have made to address the under-representation of women in some areas of the film industry.

One of the more interesting things I came across was an article about how women deal differently with failure and self-expectation than men. Women generally won't apply for jobs unless they feel they're 100% qualified or fit all the criteria asked for. Men assume they can do it and apply anyway. Women rarely ask for pay rises, and when they do, they ask for far less than men do. Women often won't attempt a task unless they're certain they can do it.

Does this mean women set themselves up to fail? Or are they just more cautious? Is it because girls are told as children that being 'good' is more important than challenging themselves?

I don't have any answers. But I found the statistics about failure interesting. My sister doesn't deal with failure at all. She failed one test back when she was about nine and hated it so much, she basically resolved never to fail again. I feel like all her decisions from there on were based on whether she'd fail. She chose a sport very few people do so she could be among the best at it (she was). She chose subjects at school she knew she would excel at.

I've never had a problem with failure. I don't like it, of course. Who does? But I recognize that often you learn as much from failing as you do from being successful. And being able to deal with failure means you're more likely to challenge yourself and push yourself out of your comfort zone. And putting your heart and soul into a manuscript and then sending it off for a bunch of strangers to read and reject is definitely a challenge.

So while I wrote six or seven novels and queried them without success, I don't consider any of those books a failure. An embarrassment in some cases, maybe, but never a failure…

How do you deal with failure?


  1. Thanks so much for adding this thoughtful post to the Deja Vu Blogfest. I'm interested in your comments on the ways that both women and men view failure. As head of HR for several high tech companies, I often interviewed people with direct experience of their company's failure. Frankly, if they understood the causes for that failure and could communicate what they might try to do differently next time, it made them a terrific hire.

  2. I did miss this one during A to Z, so I'm very happy you chose it for Deja Vu. Excellent post and good things to ponder. As a younger woman and child, I didn't take failure well at all. If I first I didn't succeed, I moved on to something else. But I've gotten more stubborn as I've aged. These days, if I want to do something, a little failure isn't going to stop me. I'll just dust myself off and try again.

  3. A really thoughtful post, and I missed it too. I love this Blogfest!

    I know that your statistics are right, and depressingly, haven't changed since the 1980s when I was the only senior manager (female) in a large company. Maybe I was on a mission (as one of my colleagues once commented) but by the time I left, things had changed... The really depressing thing is that the jobs women rise to are later downgraded so the status quo is resumed.

    And this insidious *pink* thing is another example of the way we are manipulated... I'll stop before I start ranting incoherently, since it doesn't help the image!

  4. Perhaps men are more aggressive and willing to let things "fall by the wayside" in order to get to the top. If this means some failures along the way, so be it.

  5. So glad I got a chance to read this one. Thank you for reposting.

  6. Awesome re-post! The publishing industry...or being a writer inside no place for someone who cannot handle failure. And although it looks that way from the outside looking is never black and white. Perspective matters!

    Thanks again for taking part this weekend!

  7. Thank you for the post.

    I suppose how you react to failure depends a lot on the manner in which you are notified of said failure, and whether you feel that it was justified and/or fair. As long as you receive honest and accurate feedback you can work on your "failures" - dust yourself off, learn from your mistakes and improve in your next effort.
    Dealing with failure becomes more difficult when you are failing due to discrimination or prejudice, (i.e. in spite of yourself, and there is nothing you could do to improve or change in order to succeed) which I suppose can affect women more than men, and would lead to depression and frustration, and a need to avoid being in that same situation again.

  8. Good post to use.
    I deal with failure by sucking it up and figuring out how to fix it or how to do better next time. Rejection letters aren't failures, they are suggestions that this puzzle piece doesn't belong here. Maybe the piece is bent, maybe it's the wrong puzzle, who knows. Health failures I have a harder time with, because doctors say things like, "nothing anyone could have done, nothing you could have done differently," and other such unhelpful blabbering. Wait and see and maybe some magic fairy will come along seems like a dumb answer coming from someone making a quarter of a million dollars a year. But I digress! I do jump into things that maybe I'll be great at and maybe I won't. I like knowing, at least vaguely, what it is that I'm expected to do before I go jumping in. (Like someone asked me to host a Twitter party but couldn't tell me what that meant, what the goal was, or how to do it. I have an idea now- but back then I just gave a blank stare. Which is harder to do online. I mean we have -_- that emote, but really, that barely expresses it. And o.O doesn't cover it either.) The worst failure is not to try.
    "Even if you make a mistake, it's better than making no attempt at all."