How Many Times Do You Have To Fail To Succeed?

“The Master has failed more than the beginner has tried.”

– Chinese Proverb

There are some things in life that have been so easy to master because I was so dedicated to the act of doing them. It wasn’t just about producing a product, but just being in love with the art itself – writing fiction was like this for me, and I hit my 10,000 hours rather quickly. 

Writing non-fiction (hmm, like blogposts) took quite a bit longer – not in hours spent, of course, but in days that went by, and the level of happiness involved. I wasn’t as dedicated to the art itself, but for my entire professional life I’ve been inundated with non-fiction writing, and you know, it just eventually happened. It’s happened with other things, as well – if you just spend enough time doing something and putting in an effort to improve while you do it, you’ll gain mastery eventually.

And yet, so many of those 10,000 hours were agonizing because they contained more failures than successes, more bombs than butterflies, and of course there are many things I tried that I never could stick with enough to gain mastery – and that’s okay with me, because the things I have mastery of I’m utterly satisfied with, and the things I’ve dropped don’t bring me joy.

But it is worth pointing out that the things I have mastery of didn’t always bring me joy, particularly when I was actively failing, failing, and failing again. But still trying.

The rough draft, for example, doesn’t have to be good to be a success. It just has to exist to be a success. (And it took me a long time to learn that.)

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