Life is change. If we’re adventurous we meet the changes that alter and sometimes upend our lives with a mixture of courage and curiosity, courage because sometimes the experiences life throws our way are formidable, and curiosity because, when change sweeps through our lives, it serves us well to take a minute at least to not know what to do. I call this minute “getting lost.” It’s the minute before we marshal our resources or even know what they are. The minute before the answers come.
I’ve never been comfortable getting lost just as I’ve never been comfortable failing. Yet, both have their place. The Samuel Beckett quote (above), “Fail, Fail Again, Fail Better,” just about writes the whole book on failure. It suggests that failure is a necessary ingredient for success, much as Malcolm Gladwell does in Outliers, where he argues, quite convincingly, that it takes 10,000 hours to master anything. Rack up 10,000 hours and you can bet that, somewhere along the way, you will have failed and failed again and failed better, like Thomas Edison, who failed more than 10,000 times on his way to inventing the lightbulb. You will have failed until finally failure perfected you. And by perfect, I mean perfect like a rose — with thorns, uneven petals, and all.
That is the virtue of failure. It perfects you. But what of failure’s sibling “getting lost?” What benefits does it confer? Consider Columbus. He set sail for India, got lost, and found North America instead, which only proves the point that sometime you have to get lost so that you can find the thing that you didn’t know you were looking for.