From His Persective: Failure

The next installment from my hubby- whom is becoming more popular than me.  I might have to slap him.

It is time to fail.

As most of you have read recently, Erin has been personally having a rather tough couple of months. No small part of her trials have been her perfectionist tendencies butting up against not enough time in the day. I would wager that even for those of us who don’t think everything has to be perfect, we can all relate in some way to the feeling that failure or mistakes are not an option.

I have been blessed/cursed to have failed many times in some very major ways and have made more than my fair share of both large and small mistakes. Early on it was terrifying. At 15 I was kicked out of boarding school 3 months into my tenure. I am not sure if this was actually my first huge failure, but certainly one of my most memorable. I won’t go into the details surrounding it, but suffice it to say that I was wronged, actually in an attempt to do the right thing. Didn’t matter. I was still kicked out. The first one in a long line of cousins who went to a New England prep school to be kicked out. Guilty or not, the stigma was still there (even if Amanda Knox is completely innocent, will anyone ever look at her the same?).

Compound that situation with going back to North Carolina where my family was, entering mid-year into 10th grade at a school where I didn’t know many people because it was a rival to where I went to Junior High, so I was a pretty angry kid. Kudos to my parents for not making it worse and completely supporting and believing me (when my dad flew up to collect me, he flew me back first class…looking back that was an incredible thing to do).

I continued to fail/make mistakes. Whether it was leaving college early, trying to run a North Carolina restaurant from Boston, getting married to the wrong person (Erin is my second and far and away best wife), or any number of things, I have failed, made mistakes and lived to tell the tale.

One might think that I would be deathly afraid to fail or make mistakes today. Not true. I am a better, stronger, more confident person because of them. Not being afraid to fail frees you to up to truly succeed. One cannot live life afraid or under a rock. Once you accept a failure or a mistake you can begin to realize that they are not in fact life threatening. Mistakes can be fixed, failures are not permanent. Not trying or indecision is the real threat to life. As I said in my first post, I don’t want to look back on life wondering what if.

Accepting mistakes as human nature, common and natural and not as a sign of weakness or ineptitude is easier said than done, but still doable. Failing and bouncing back is even harder. But who ever said life was easy or fair? Someone said what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. It is true. I am not suggesting wake up tomorrow with the intent to make a big mistake so you can learn, but simply to not be afraid to do so. It is kind of like jumping off the high dive. At first it is really scary…and then once you are in the pool, you jump out and run up the ladder to do it again. It is in fact not nearly as scary as it was in your head before you did it.


  1. I think you should institute “deep thoughts- by andrew gates” days! Like once a week.!!!

    Great post!

  2. ‘”Not trying or indecision is the Real threat to life” I love that.Thanks for your profound words.

  3. andrew: swoon.

    you are so blessed to have his strength, wisdom and groundedness. and he is so blessed by your intensity, passion and aliveness. cherish.

  4. Andrew, I don’t think you and Erin failed over the last few months…..I think you both WON BIG!! A quick recap, You did not over-extend yourselves when the bidding war went too high on a home that, in all likelihood, will be worth less next spring…WIN! Erin’s dad was able to be a detective and find black mold in a home you were considering, and then passed on…HUGE WIN!! You both realized that you don’t need to live in the city, maybe the burbs will work for you….MORE WIN!! Your glass was never half-empty…it is 3/4 full

  5. I started visiting your blog for the design, I stayed for the wisdom.

    For someone who no longer tries because of past failures, maybe I should rethink things….

  6. you forgot to say that your little sister jumped off the high dive before you – just kidding. Your post makes me so proud of you. The fact you learned from your mistakes makes you a much more interesting and wise person. Keep up the good work, you and Erin are just hitting your stride. Love – Mom

  7. As a perfectionist with a deep-seated fear of failure, I think Andrew just became my personal guru. :)
    Love it – great design with words of wisdom on the side like a delightfully unexpected splash of color.

  8. to quote-ish Michael Jordan (or his Nike ad), because I fail, I succeed. also, your boarding school story sounds School Ties-eque!

  9. Great post from Andrew, as always! It’s great to have a semi-regular kick in the butt from your hubby on EOS, amidst all the beautiful wonderfulness that your blog is!

  10. I love what your mom in law said,…”you’re just hitting your stride.”. Some serious awesomeness & love oozing from your in-laws.

  11. I really love your posts, thank you so much for sharing. It is so refreshing to have articulate, poignant writing in the blogosphere. I relate to your wife, and had to give myself the new belief “there is no such thing as failure, only feedback”. Thanks again.

  12. I’m going through a tough time right now due to my own fault but it’s a lesson well learnt. Thanks for the words of wisdom. I would also like to know where I can get a copy of the poster. And yes, Andrew does need a weekly column….lol

  13. As a person who suffers from the “perfectionist” syndrome” I completly understand the sickness and the fear. My dad carried a slide rule is his pocket and quoted geometric + & – tolerances when building. There was no option for a large margin of error that I grew up in. I”m not in fear of failure exacty but the potential rejection from others of my work.

    Andrew I hear the wisdom is in your soulfelt words for Erin and for others so they do not fall upon deaf ears. You have meet your demons and conquered them, but for some of us it is a little harder. Keep writing, keep quoting, and don’t give up on us …….and hopefully someday we will all be where you are today. Thanks for a great post……

  14. Another great post Andrew! Erin, sounds like you have an angel on earth to hold you when feel weak. Keep smil’n have many strengths and talents. Hope you both have a beautiful weekend

Comments are closed.