Failure, Continued

Finals week is over, and we’re winding down on a few papers that, for some reason, have been extended beyond the duration of the actual course. Whatever. My confidence is high, and with luck, my grades will match.

Now, my failure post about two weeks ago was by far my most viewed thus far, which is great. I have enjoyed practicing writing about plans and ideas, working through some negotiations about what how to best tackle them, and then setting out for accomplishment.

FAILURE  We can't spell failure with U.

Now, the idea of failure may still be a little vague, so before I continue I’d like to explain this a little more.

First, I don’t believe failure is a good thing, and I did not set out with my last post with a plan to fail. I do, however, believe failure is natural and that anyone who has failed can make better use of their time and abilities by working through and learning from those failures, rather than sulking and complaining. This brings me to my next point, which has been a large part of my mindset over the past few weeks: set out with better (read: more realistic) expectations about failure, and practice getting back up on my feet.

Ever since I asked this initial question, a number of failure scenarios have opened up; however, the one that stuck out the most was responsibility. Responsibility is a big word, both in idea and character count, that I and everyone else fail at.

Responsibility is a careful balance, but not between having too much and too little. The goal of responsibility should be to have a lot; in fact, I want as much responsibility as I can handle. The balancing act comes from the dissertation between beneficial and extraneous responsibility.

Side note: sometimes I like to use big words to sound important. It’s common for people with blogs.

Beneficial responsibility comes in many flavors, often categorized by the area of existance. We have work responsibilities, family responsibilities, and friendship responsibilities – I don’t have to list any of these, because I’m sure you have a good idea of each already. And yes, we fail at these, but it’s not the end of the world.

Extraneous responsibilities grow from ideas and comments that are put in our head that distort our perspective of expectation for ourselves and others in the world. When I wanted to pick up an exercise routine, I set a Saturday aside with no plans becuase I believed that it would be better for me to practice devotion to a good cause; however, this set my mind into a state where working out all day was my responsibility, and the natural tiring of my body avalanched into feelings of failure. Despite my high ambitions and motivated approach, most trainers and health coaches will agree that beginning slowly is the best way to start a new exercise routine, such as this post from

The dissapointment from failing to meet these extraneous responsibilities can be extremely difficult to bear, which makes the process of learning from and moving on almost impossible.

My extraneous responsibility is being a role model for my friends. While thinking about outcomes that would lead me to be a good role model whenever I make a decision affecting multiple people is necessary, the idea of other people relying on me to not fail is unrealistic and stupid.

For example, my cousin is the closest thing I have to a brother, and when he started having issues with some friends, I made it my goal to spend more time with him and be, well, a role model. In my clear mindset, I know that he doesn’t expect this from me because I’ve been screwing things up his whole life and he sees me as a normal friend. However, when school kicked back in and I was unable to spend enough time to keep him away from the same old issues, I failed in my extraneous responsibility.

This failure is key because of two effects it had:

  1. I was unable to devote the proper time to other beneficial responsibilities (such as finishing my work on time) because I was so focused on the failing.
  2. All of my thoughts and feelings moved from him to myself, which made me selfish and stupid.

I’ll keep focusing on conquering responsibility failure over the winter break, but first I plan on writing a short list of beneficial and extraneous responsibilities that I face regularly. In the meantime, what responsibilities have you failed at personally? Which of them (if any) are extraneous? Which are beneficial? Feel free to email me at with any thoughts.


~ by MichaelStaudenmeir on December 14, 2010.

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