The Guru of Failure

Since my tweet about the Zen of Failure is showing some real legs on Twitter, and my blog posts about failure keep getting visitors, I’m growing concerned. Do I really want to gain a rep as the Guru of Failure?

“Oh yeah, Dale Sproule, that failure guy.”


I need to remember that in the end, it’s about finding success through failure. My failures are a big part of the credentials I bring to the table. How could I speak authoritatively about failure if I hadn’t frequently come away from endeavors battered and pummeled, bloodied and demoralized, crushed and spindled and broke.”  Nobody is interested in my List of Woes – nor should they be. Because the useful and interesting part of this whole exercise is the climbing-back-up part. The part where you take what you learned from the failure and use it to beat your oppressors about the head and shoulders until they cry out, “Okay, fine. You may sit at our table.” And they put you at the far end, on one of the kids chairs, with a cushion. But its a big fluffy cushion so you’re even more comfortable than they are. Okay metaphor, time to die.

That’s one of my failings – milking metaphors until they’re dry enough to float away on the hay-scented breeze in the farmyard of life.  But the eye-rolling reaction to those metaphors is also their strength. If used to ridiculous enough excess, they can become funny. Groans can turn to belly-laughs.

They don’t always, point taken.

Another lesson I learned involves the subjectiveness of humour. One person’s funny is another person’s definition of “lame.” There’s no one correct way to do it. So even if you didn’t so much as smile at my silly metaphors, I know with equal certainty that someone else did. If I got 12 smiles, 187 eyes glazed over, 2 LOLs and a fart-that-may-or-may-not have been aimed in my direction, that’s a good payback. Fourteen positive reactions and helping someone with their gastric distress. Fuck ye-ah!

At any rate, I'm no doubt panicking prematurely. A few hundred retweets on twitter is hardly reputation making! 

So, please do, go ahead and brand me the failure guy. I’ll embrace it, even while doing my best to make it ironic.


  1. Failure is a great starting point. It means you tried something ambitious and fell short. Or it means you did something prosaic and either ran into bad luck or you didn't anticipate all possibilities. But in any case, failure means you moved beyond passivity to actually try to do something. Using the knowledge gained from your failure, adjust your approach, and move on! Try again, try something different, or recognize that it may not be the right time. But it is also important to remember an important lesson in the fictional words of the equally fictional Jean-Luc Picard: "Sometimes, you can do everything right, and still fail. That is called life." And when that happens, you pick yourself up and you move on.

    1. Failure is only failure if you stop at that point. Keep on trying: that's success, whatever else happens.

    2. That's exactly the mind set required for me to get stuff done!

  2. I believe your "Zen of Failure" post is such a success because of the wisdom contained within it. Accepting failure, having the tenacity to work through it, the intelligence to learn from it and the belief to keep going is, perhaps, the only difference between success and failure.

    Besides, how many writers become successful overnight? Even Stephen King and J.K. Rowling accumulated a fistful of rejection slips before they were eventually picked up. They didn't throw in the towel after the first couple.

    Every writer will have to learn to deal with rejection at some point in their career. The belief in oneself to keep going, that we're all just one rejection slip away from success, is what I got from your "Zen of Failure" post.

    I'd wager I'm not the only one.

    Thank you for writing it.


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