Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Redemption of Noble Failure

Hi, new readers!  If you’re late to my blog, earlier in the year, I made a New Year’s resolution to myself to post once a week.  This week is the 2nd time I have almost not made that deadline.  Should I miss a week, the following week I am to post 2 posts.  

It’s a constant struggle to write a post each week because coming up with new tips, a personal story, or something fun or interesting is hard.  I was reading a book and an ad exec went to a museum every Sunday without fail for inspiration.  It had paid off in many ways having a ritual.  Happiness studies will tell you learning, challenging, engagement, and growing are needed.

This week I mulled about what to write.  Between that I spent many hours reading about Kevin Smith, Steve Jobs, articles on LinkedIn, and watching MTV’s True Life.  Between the last 2 sources a theme began to emerge and a term I knew about, but never phrased as such - noble failure.  

Noble failure is defined as pursuing a goal, failing, but succeeding because you gave it an honest effort, took that first step, and can die without wondering what if.  In our society dominated by early achievements, money, and fame, noble failure is not celebrated enough or even acknowledged.  When it is daunting enough to even TRY, most people would rather just not start and silently carry their secret ambitions.  

An earlier post of mine was called the $1000 Job Interview where I chronicled my failure.  You can read that post here:  

This can be considered a noble failure.  And it was much easier to attempt that goal because failure or success would be known pretty quickly.  The struggle becomes pursuing dreams that can take a lifetime to achieve.  

What I learned during my noble failure was this:  It is up to a person to figure out what works best for them.  Maybe it’s 3 years, 5, 10, or even a lifetime.  Things will never be easy and the question will always come up:  Is it worth it?  At what expense?  Are you managing all aspects of your life at least “okay?”  Juggling a new goal should fit into your current life so you don’t fall behind and drop the ball - with finances, taking care of family, and creating a better future.  If you want it bad enough, you will make it work.  

Never being able to achieve the goal is not a failure.  Admitting on your deathbed you didn’t try your best is.  The redemption of noble failure is peace of mind. I’ll leave you with a Theodore Roosevelt quote:

"It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.

***New “rule” - when you ask me a question for anonymous advice and I answer it, could you write an anonymous comment so I know you read the post? You can just write “Thx!” or something! :) As always, I usually tweet any new posts I have. And anyone can email me questions and I respond only via this blog, not to your personal address. It usually takes me 3-4 days to answer. I also write over at under Hollywood Executive Assistant. 


  1. I love the quote by Roosevelt...and you are sooo right about peace of mind b/c after my most recent push to go for a bigger opportunity, I do have peace of mind that I pursued it as much as I could and am left with nothing but moving on to see if my request for the greater will be met with a yes :) And even if not and I officially nobley fail... I am already celebratory Thanks for this!!!

    1. The Muser at Musings of a High Level Executive AsstNovember 13, 2013 at 12:47 PM

      Jane - So glad you liked the post and could identify with it! :) Thank you for the comment!