The Power of Slow

Embracing time so you have more of it

Brazil's Lesson of Failure

Failure is merely redirection.

If at first you do not succeed, try, try again.

Last night Brazil failed miserably in their attempt to win the semi-finals against Germany in the World Cup. But they won't stop being human beings simply because they didn't take home the title in their homeland. In fact, on a personal level their loss could be see as a true gain in the greater scheme of things.

Let's face it. Success is sweet. And we want it more than we want the smudgy, sweaty, stinky sensation of having given it our all only to flop altogether.

Over the years, I have learned that while success is sensational, failure has its own flavor of wonderfulness too. It is what brings us closer to ourselves.

Wisdom is born out of failure. Sure, when you win, as the Germans did so colossally, you learn what worked — that time. But when you fail, you learn so much more about yourself and the world around you. You get to find out who your friends are — and who aren't. Those who run at the first sign of trouble are the ones you don't let back in. Those who stick it out even when you aren't smiling, serving up hors d'oeuvres and smelling like a rose are the ones worth everything.

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And then there is the matter of what you learn from what didn't work. Every once in a while I come across an old book proposal and a wave of compassion rises up in my chest.

"God, what work I put into this! And not a single editor could care less..."

Then a subtle feeling of gratitude settles in. I really tried. It didn't work. Next.

Is it really failure to have put your heart and soul into something (or someone) only to not get what you anticipated?

I think not.

If you have given your best and the door slams in your face, you haven't lost a thing. You have actually gained great insight.

We sometimes stomp our feet when things don't go according to plan. Or we may cry, as many Brazilians did at their extensive loss. But in all honesty, we can be grateful that things don't always go the way we want them to. Imagine if we could control simply everything about our lives, about what happens to us, about what succeeds and what doesn't. What a load of responsibility that would be!

I'm happy to leave it up to the Universe. And to listen to its call. Therein lies the key.

Letting things unfold is a much more relaxing approach in my mind. Learning to accept that which is and to see the universal good in life keeps us supple and ready to go for that next cup of gold. Or the World Cup.

So what if things haven't worked out the way you thought they would? That just means you aren't done learning yet.

In fact, until our last breath, we are at risk of failing time and again.

And that is what makes life so very rich indeed.

Christine Louise Hohlbaum is the author of The Power of Slow: 101 Ways to Save Time in Our 24/7 World.

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