On Failure 

失敗是人生中不可避免的經驗。如何從失敗中汲取教訓,重新出發進而轉敗為勝,是大家共同的生命課題。以下三位不同領域的名人,分別在美國名校的畢業典禮上,分享自己的人生故事,談到如何從失敗中學習而後扭轉逆境,值得借鏡深思。

第一位是電視界名人歐普拉。她縱橫脫口秀節目二十餘年,收視長紅,另闢一個新節目觀眾卻不捧場。她在失敗後對哈佛大學畢業生講了以下這段話:

不管你多成功,如果你不斷鞭策自己要往上爬,到某個點你勢必跌倒。中庸法則早已預告會如此,希臘神話也如此明示。(伊卡魯斯(Icarus), 不聽父親戴德勒斯(Daedalus)的叮嚀,逃離迷宮後飛行要盡量緊貼海面。他越飛越高,翅膀無法承受太陽的高溫而融化,最後跌落大海淹死。)但記住這點: 沒有失敗這回事,失敗只是意味生命必須轉換方向而已。你可以給自己一點時間哀嘆因失敗而失去的東西,但重要的是,要從每一次錯誤中學習,它會教導你、逼迫你成為真正的自己,然後再去思索下一步該怎麼走。生命中要緊的是建立自我內在的道德及情緒定位系統,指引著自己該何去何從。畢業自名校哈佛的高材生,頂著榮耀的光環,未來在社會上勢必是舉足輕重的人物,不乏律師、參議員、執行長、物理學家、諾貝爾獎、普立茲獎得主之人才。但生命真正的挑戰不在於你的履歷有多風光,不在於你的頭銜地位是甚麼,而在於你想要成為甚麼樣的人,你的人生目的是甚麼。你的生命履歷表內,不僅是記載你成就了哪些豐功偉業,而是你為何而做?將來你失敗跌倒時,問問自己初衷何在?你當初的目的和使命是甚麼? 靠這個使命感你就能再站起來,走出困境。

(Oprah Winfrey in Harvard, 2013)

This is what I want to share. It doesn’t matter how far you might rise. At some point you are bound to stumble because if you’re constantly doing what we do, raising the bar. If you’re constantly pushing yourself higher, higher, the law of averages, not to mention the Myth of Icarus predicts that you will at some point fall. And when you do I want you to know this, remember this: there is no such thing as failure. Failure is just life trying to move us in another direction. Now when you’re down there in the hole, it looks like failure. So this past year I had to spoon feed those words to myself. And when you’re down in the hole, when that moment comes, it’s really okay to feel bad for a little while. Give yourself time to mourn what you think you may have lost but then here’s the key, learn from every mistake because every experience, encounter, and particularly your mistakes are there to teach you and force you into being more who you are.And then figure out what is the next right move. And the key to life is to develop an internal moral, emotional G.P.S. that can tell you which way to go. Because now and forever more when you Google yourself, your search results will read “Harvard, 2013″. And in a very competitive world that really is a calling card because I can tell you as one who employs a lot of people when I see “Harvard” I sit up a little straighter and say, “Where is he or she? Bring them in.” It’s an impressive calling card that can lead to even more impressive bullets in the years ahead: lawyer, senator, C.E.O., scientist, physicist, winners of Nobel and Pulitzer Prizes or late night talk show host. But the challenge of life I have found is to build a résumé that doesn’t simply tell a story about what you want to be but it’s a story about who you want to be. It’s a résumé that doesn’t just tell a story about what you want to accomplish but why. A story that’s not just a collection of titles and positions but a story that’s really about your purpose. Because when you inevitably stumble and find yourself stuck in a hole, that is the story that will get you out. What is your true calling? What is your dharma? What is your purpose? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GMWFieBGR7c(8:18~11:20)

 

羅琳在2008年對哈佛大學畢業生的演講中,也同樣提到失敗的經驗。失敗是福不是禍,因為它會過濾掉一切對你並不重要的東西,讓你全神貫注在最要緊的事物上。她假想若當時她有所成就,也許她就沒有決心去從事最感如魚得水的那份事業。她因失敗而得到解脫,最糟的狀況已經遇上,而自己有幸還能存活著,擁有可愛的女兒、一部舊打字機,和一個恢弘的構想。卑微的存在成為她重建人生的堅固磐石。哈佛大學的天之驕子可能不會遇到這樣的失敗經驗,但人生的道路上失敗無可避免,除非你小心翼翼到不曾真正的活著。但這樣也是一種失敗,你是逃避不參與的失敗者。失敗給予她內在的安定感,讓她重新發掘自己的堅毅性格和朋友的真誠情誼。經歷失敗後所成就的智慧和堅強可以讓自己有信心,將來無論處於何種劣勢都能活下去。唯有逆境才能認清自己以及和他人的關係。這種認知是最好的禮物,雖然得到的代價昂貴,卻是無價珍寶。 

J. K. Rowling in Harvard, 2008

So why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had been realised, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life. You might never fail on the scale I did, but some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default. Failure gave me an inner security that I had never attained by passing examinations. Failure taught me things about myself that I could have learned no other way. I discovered that I had a strong will, and more discipline than I had suspected; I also found out that I had friends whose value was truly above the price of rubies.

The knowledge that you have emerged wiser and stronger from setbacks means that you are, ever after, secure in your ability to survive. You will never truly know yourself, or the strength of your relationships, until both have been tested by adversity. Such knowledge is a true gift, for all that it is painfully won, and it has been worth more than any qualification I ever earned.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wHGqp8lz36c (8:45~10:40)

 

 2005年賈伯斯在史丹佛大學的畢業典禮中,談了三段人生故事。其中第二段是有關失去與獲得。他認為被自己創立的蘋果電腦開除,是他所經歷過最好的事情。成功的沉重被從頭來過的輕鬆所取代,每件事情都不那麼確定,讓他自由進入這輩子最有創意的年代。他勉勵年輕人,有時候生命會用磚頭打你的頭,但千萬不要喪失信心。支持你繼續走下去的唯一理由,就是你熱愛所做的事情。你得找出你的最愛,工作上是如此,人生伴侶也是如此。你的工作將佔掉你人生的一大部分,唯一真正獲得滿足的方法,就是相信自己做的是偉大的工作。而唯一做偉大工作的方法,就是愛你所做的事。如果你還沒找到這些事,繼續找,別停頓。當你真正找到了心靈所渴求的事物時,你會知道的。正如人與人之間的珍貴情誼,它會隨著時間愈來愈好。所以,繼續找,別停頓---------

Steve Jobs in Stanford, 2005

I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me — I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over. . . . I didn't see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life. . . . I'm pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn't been fired from Apple. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith. I'm convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You've got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking. Don't settle.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ip0hG7FXVgs&feature=player_embedded (7:01~8:59)

 結語

這三位具影響力的名人,都是從失敗中成長茁壯。成功讓我們安逸舒適,但失敗讓我們清醒。風箏要飛的高遠,還得靠放風箏者手中緊握的那條長線。歐普拉的內在GPS就是那條線,羅琳的恢弘想像、賈伯斯的無羈創意亦如是。失敗考驗信念,同時也強化了信念。失敗阻絕外界的雜音,讓我們聽見內心真誠的吶喊,認清自己後放手一搏。

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