Failure is a moment of beauty.
The crash into the abandoned car revealed itself to me in slow motion. A fraction of a second is all it took from the moment I realized I was about to crash and my car’s front right corner bending into the back of the other. Then my car swept in a half circle into the middle of the highway. I remember not knowing exactly what to do. I remember flooring the clutch and releasing the gear; letting go of the brake pedal until I felt the car just coasting backwards; gently braking to a stand-still; applying the handbrake; assessing what is happening on the highway.
Then the sense of failure washed over me.
But there wasn’t much time to stay in that moment. People who saw me crashing rushed from their cars to my help. Apart from my left hand that hurt slightly, nothing had happened to me. I stepped out of my car with a guy guiding me to the side of the road. I asked him if he could bring my bag that was still on the passenger seat. In it were my wallet and some documents. Someone called for an ambulance. It was around 3 am.
My concern was to manage getting back home on time to walk my dog. Hardly anything happened to me really. I was alive and ready to continue my day. As soon as I was released from hospital, the sense of a new life swept my senses.
It was a beautiful day.
I expect people to be interested in what they are doing. Whatever others expect is different for each and every one of us. The process we go through starts as soon as we meet. Exploring expectations sets the tone of the process. There might not be any promise of success – and failure is never an aim. The reality of working in groups is one of expectations.
I was working in a landscape architecture office. My experience as an industrial designer allowed me to integrate into the workflow in a way that was both challenging and satisfying. Many projects passed beside me without being involved in them personally. I was partially intrigued, partially appalled to notice how often the dysfunctional communications of the team nurtured frustrations that could have been avoided.
It was an intense learning process for me. I tried to learn from my mistakes too. The sense of failure was always in the air. However, some of the failures were painfully simple to avoid.
Thanks to my unintentional position of the outsider I could see other possibilities. I couldn’t say these possibilities would have necessarily worked. But I saw the possibilities, where others accepted failure as a reality to live with.
The moment of failure has a very short lifespan in me. My mind quickly switches to simple questions: what have I learned from this? What can I do next?
Failure, as much as it can be painful, presents us with opportunity.
In opportunity, I’m sure, you too can see beauty.
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