Anyone who knows me well knows that my most ambitious and most spontaneous ideas come to me around 2 am – usually when I’m trying to catch up on much needed sleep. Today’s post is directly a result of that. Truthfully, I had no idea what I wanted to write about, but I made the fortunate mistake of watching a Russel Brand interview before attempting to sleep and I felt the need to write something.
Having just finished my midterm review for a design project I’ve been working on for the past month and a half, I felt I would frame this post in the after thoughts of my review. I’d like to focus specifically on the following words: FAILURE, REFLECTION, and MODERATION.
I spent the entire night before the review working on a model. Each piece I added made me feel accomplished, made me feel as though I had achieved something, and ultimately I was extremely excited and happy with the outcome. There is a level of attachment people feel when they produce something – rightfully so, and that’s exactly how I felt. Forty five minutes before the review my professor saw the model and said… “what is that?” Within 5 seconds my entire image of what I had created, what I had put my time and effort into, was shattered. In that moment an immediate sense of FAILURE transcended through me. The details of the conversation that followed I will spare you the pain of reading, but it was not pretty.
The reason I bring this up is because I increasingly see within my generation a phenomenon that occurs by the perception of failure. We take failure at face value. We don’t interrogate it, we don’t question it, and we don’t reflect on it. Rather, we freeze it and allow it to define the moment, and that is incredibly dangerous. In that moment I was blinded by the fact that other reviewers who were on the panel actually liked my project. It was the comment made forty five minutes earlier that stuck with me. We must see failure as a stepping stone. Something must fall for us to know that it has to stay up. We must learn to consider failure as a lesson. The stigma behind it kills creativity, and it is in our own hands to redefine it.
After reflecting on the review I realized that I learned a much broader lesson today. We constantly allow particular moments to define us. While this is only natural in the moment, what I have learned is that there is a much bigger conversation to be had about moments like this in the spectrum of our lives. But how do we identify this “bigger picture?” how do we allow the immediate impact of a comment or a moment not make us feel as though we have failed? The key here is REFLECTION. We all know what it is, we all know how to do it, we just don’t DO it. We don’t take a conscious moment to really think and reflect on the larger picture with regards to these particular moments and instances. When we reflect, we learn to connect the dots. In my review, I realized upon reflection that this was one review out of perhaps 15 I have had so far, and among 30 I will have before I graduate Architecture school. I am in school to learn, to be shown how to do things in a way I don’t already know. But without reflection, I could not possibly have realized that. The beauty of reflection is that it teaches us how to moderate our thoughts. It teaches us to rationalize our over dramatic responses to a particular moment in time.
MODERATION. I truly feel that in our ever changing world, moderation is the key to remaining human. We must learn how to balance, we must learn how to understand the scale of things relative to themselves, but also relative to other things. We must learn to moderate our experiences of the world in a way that allows us to better ourselves and make our lives well balanced. Failure must be balanced with the ambition to succeed. And in the same way, success must be balanced with our acceptance of failure. When these two ends of the spectrum are balanced, we can reach a point in our consciousness that allows for us to learn the most out of any situation. A way to critically think about our experiences, and apply our lessons to future experiences.
I welcome comments on this post as everyone will react to it differently. We must share these sorts of ideas, so that we can learn form one another, and also know that we are not alone. We are all our own, but we are also all part of something much larger. Our ability to balance this relationship is what really allows for incredible outcomes.