Day 38: 3 Reasons why failure is a gift. A post inspired by Markus Zusak’s TedxSydney talk

Have you ever failed before? If yes, did you say thank-you for your gift?  Tedx speaker  and author of The Book Thief Markus Zusak, gives a Tedx talk about success and how for him, it usually comes gift-wrapped in a box of failure. This post pinpoints the three top gifts  that we can receive from failure.

1. Failure makes you crave success

I love watching Ted talks given by novelists. Authors are a special breed. They just have this special storytelling quality that draws you into their world. It’s kind of special. Markus shared some childhood stories about his failures. One such story was from when he was eight years old and at a discus competition. He failed pretty badly. Three fouls. He was a mess. Balling his eyes out as his sister did the official sisterly sibling-love thing and yelled out ‘three fouls’ over and over again. Young Markus was shattered but not defeated.

Failure can motivate you to take the action that you need to succeed.  It’s the fuel running in your blood to make you do better.  It’s the little voice in your head that makes you push through the disappointment of failure when every fibre of your body wants to give up.  Looking back Markus sees the discus event as one of the biggest failures in his life.  It was definitely the most defining failure for him. The failure of three fouls in his discus competition motivated him to practise. The next year Markus recalls practising in the pouring rain, being drenched but still throwing that discuss over and over again until his dad told him he had practiced enough.  Markus effort’s paid off – he made regionals.

2. Failure makes you think of creative ways to solve problems

Markus is the author of The Book Thief – a book that was adapted into a successful motion picture.   The Book Thief   wasn’t always a success though.  Markus admits that you could fill a room with the number of failed pages that made up the The Book Thief.  Everything that he could fail on he did, but there was a silver lining.  All these problems with the novel that Markus had to work through made the book so much better than it would have been if things had of gone smoothly.  The failures that littered through the manuscript made him imagine creative and inventive ways to get around the problems.

3. Failure makes you appreciate your wins

Ever notice that people who seem to have everything always complain that it’s not enough.  When you have never been without you are not able to draw comparisons.  The same goes for failure.  A healthy dose of failure can really make you frame those wins so that you genuinely appreciate them.  Marcus says if there had been no problems with The Book Thief he  would have had a 200 page book that really meant something to him. However, all the failures that he had to find a way around mean that he had a 580 page book that meant everything to him.

Early on in his career after publishing his first book Markus was to give his first book reading at a local library. No one showed up. The librarian however, made him do the reading for her alone.  This was one of the greatest failures in his adult life  no doubt this failure made the success of The Book Thief all that much sweeter.



Today’s action step

Markus has really made me realise that the effect that failure has in our lives comes down to how we frame the event.  The next time I stumble upon failure I am going to peel away the gift wrap and find the gift inside.  Imagine how much better life would be if we approached all failure like that.

Vanessa Rose