Failing Forward

Now my character can navigate with his eyes closed.

All of these things that seemed impossible, through failure, have become not only possible, but easy.

Up until that point I had never really considered failure to be a worthwhile option.

I would beat myself up for failing.

Instead of reflecting on everything I did, I would beat myself up for everything I didn’t do.

It was pure hindsight.

I was so afraid of failure that I found myself simply refusing to even try.

After all, losers fail.

But if I don’t fail, then I can’t possibly be a loser!Unrelated album cover.

I recently had a technical interview for a company I’m incredibly interested in.

I spent hours preparing for it—studying technical interview questions, doing problems at home, speaking with other employees.

The day of the interview I felt ready.

Nervous, but ready.

Five minutes in, I realized I was done for.

The interviewer laid out their first question, and I felt like they might as well have asked me to perform brain surgery.

I was in over my head.

None of my studying had prepared me for this!Old me would’ve shut down.

Old me would’ve curled into a fetal position and eaten a box of Oreos in shame.

But I’m not old me.

I’m current me, and when the anxiety that so often precedes failure felt like it was beginning to creep into my psyche, a thought popped into my head: “I am not at all prepared for this, so I’m going to spend the next hour learning everything I can.

”I did exactly that.

I started asking the interviewer all sorts of questions, and by changing the context of that hour from “an interview” to “a learning experience,” I could feel all of the anxiety welling up inside me fade away.

I felt confident asking the interviewer for clarification and additional info.

I didn’t stop pressing him until I felt like I understood what he was asking of me.

From there I started coding as best I could, taking his advice along the way without feeling like I was messing everything up.

Eventually, I managed to get through the first part of his question.

The second part came, and I was completely unequipped to answer it.

No worries, my anxiety was gone.

I wasn’t even thinking about the interview at this point.

It was almost a tutoring session, a free one-hour class.

In that hour I think I learned more about recursion, complex problem solving, problem framing, and ternary operators than I did in the past few weeks of study and practice.

I thanked my interviewer graciously and earnestly.

When the phone call ended, I couldn’t help but laugh.

I was so out of my element, and it didn’t even matter!Just like my character in Armageddon, I learned a little bit from that failure.

Maybe that alone won’t be enough to bring me great success, but perhaps the next failure, or the next, next failure will.

These ultimately small failures are all adding up to something in the end.

I like to think Armageddon put that little spark into me, and over time that spark became a philosophy that has shaped me into the person I am today.

Someone who can confidently say, “I fail sometimes, and that’s great!”.

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