Successful Failure

My training for the Leaf Peeper Half Marathon in Waterbury, VT has moved from its foundation stage to running measured mileage. Each week I have four runs of different distances, the final run being the longest. Last week my final run went well for the most part — I would call it a successful failure.

What is a successful failure? Definitions may vary somewhat, but I would submit that it is an event where a goal was reached or mostly reached, albeit not in the way it was planned or expected. For example, my long run last week was a successful failure because I accomplished the mileage but had to twice walk a short distance instead of running the whole thing.

Apollo 13 was considered a “successful failure” because the astronauts returned safely but did not land on the Moon.

Parkinson’s is of course full of ups and downs. Things are tried and don’t work, treatments have to be altered in response to its progression and there are times of deep emotional trial for both caregivers and those with the disease. The question for all of us, affected by Parkinson’s or not, is one of perspective (something I’m still learning!).

The questions can go along these lines: Did I accomplish the goal? If accomplished, was it by the original plan? If not accomplished, what can I learn from it? What caused the goal not to be accomplished or, if the goal was accomplished via something other than the original plan, what needs to be changed?

I think it is generally the case that we learn more from something that doesn’t work than when something does. My hope for all of us is that our perspective allows us to learn from failure rather than become mired in the failure itself. It is certainly something I have to keep mindful of. This is one place where being supportive of each other can mean all the difference.

Be well…Jesse