AfterwordThe Paradox of Failure

Every moment instructs, and every object: for wisdom is infused into every form.

—Ralph Waldo Emerson

Win Some, Lose Some, Learn Some

So…you set your goal, did your homework, got the support you needed, planned, and executed. And you failed. You didn't influence the other person after all that. Your daughter still went off to Europe alone. The boss wouldn't approve your project. The recalcitrant committee members gave a minority report. How do you deal with it?

First, sit down and have a nice cup of tea. Call a friend. Rant and rave. Or, if you prefer, read a trashy novel, or watch an old movie with a lot of car crashes in it. Get used to it, though, because once you start being conscious about influencing, you will notice that you fail a lot. Of course, this is because you are paying attention rather than doing the blindfolded drive-by influencing you used to prefer. You are failing because you're taking risks—and it is the nature of risk to be associated with failure as much as with success.

But after you get past the first twenty minutes or so of teeth gnashing, you will acknowledge that you have, after all, had partial successes, and here and there a really glorious moment. And you'll probably notice also that you have learned a lot from the things that didn't work, and that you feel more in charge of your own life than you used to. Being the persistent person you are, you will continue to try to shape the events that make your world. You will ...

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