Embrace Failure

Cats don’t make mistakes. We are born perfect.

Most of us feel like beating ourselves up when we fail at something or make a mistake. Or get panic attacks like I used to. But hey, “Failure doesn’t mean the game is over, it means try again with experience” (L. Shlesinger).

Failure, and even more important, accepting and analyzing failure, is an indispensable part of learning, being successful and achieving greatness. At the moment, failure can be discouraging, but only if you let it.

Doctors make mistakes. An inspiring TED talk by emergency-room physician Brian Goldmann.

Excerpt: “… let’s begin with a bit of baseball… I’m going to focus on one stat that I hope a lot of you have heard of. It’s called batting average. So we talk about a 300, a batter who bats 300. That means that ballplayer batted safely, hit safely three times out of 10 at bats. That means hit the ball into the outfield, it dropped, it didn’t get caught, and whoever tried to throw it to first base didn’t get there in time and the runner was safe.Three times out of 10. Do you know what they call a 300 hitter in Major League Baseball? Good, really good, maybe an all-star. Do you know what they call a 400 baseball hitter? That’s somebody who hit, by the way, four times safely out of every 10.Legendary — as in Ted Williams legendary — the last Major League Baseball player to hit over 400 during a regular season. Now let’s take this back into my world of medicine where I’m a lot more comfortable, or perhaps a bit less comfortable after what I’m going to talk to you about. Suppose you have appendicitis and you’re referred to a surgeon who’s batting 400 on appendectomies.(Laughter) Somehow this isn’t working out, is it?Now suppose you live in a certain part of a certain remote place and you have a loved one who has blockages in two coronary arteries and your family doctor refers that loved one to a cardiologist who’s batting 200 on angioplasties. But, but, you know what? She’s doing a lot better this year. She’s on the comeback trail. And she’s hitting a 257.Somehow this isn’t working. But I’m going to ask you a question. What do you think a batting average for a cardiac surgeon or a nurse practitioner or an orthopedic surgeon, an OBGYN, a paramedic is supposed to be?  …”


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