Paul Butzi |||

Going Too Far/Failure

There’s a fine line between perseverance and failure to accept reality.” — Tim Leatherman

Only those who will risk going too far can know how far one can go.” — T. S. Eliot

[^]“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” — Samuel Beckett

I understand the point Leatherman is trying to make, here, although I think he is expressing it the wrong way around.

I think there’s no distinct line between perseverance and failure to accept reality. I think there’s just this broad grey region.

When you’re in this grey region, it’s very hard to know if you just need to keep trying, or if you’re just failing to accept the reality that what you’re trying to do is permanently beyond your reach.

As Eliot suggests, you can’t know how far you can go without going deep into that zone of uncertainty. Some of the time, you’re out in this terra incognita and you fail. At that point the question is whether you failed because it’s beyond your reach, or if you failed because you were inadequately prepared in some way - you needed to learn something new, or you needed to train even harder, or longer.

This zone of uncertainty is weird. When you fail, the uncertainty doesn’t diminish, it intensifies. When you succeed, the zone gets smaller on the near side (you now know for certain that you can do whatever it was) but generally expands on the other side (new, previously obviously impossible’ things now fall in the zone of maybe I could pull this off’)

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