05 August 2008

Ways of Thinking

My husband is a very smart man. No, not just because of his multiple degrees in physics and engineering. And not just because he reads for fun books that consist of little but numbers and equations and symbols I've never seen before.

No, my husband is a very smart man because in just a short conversation he gives me a new perspective on things and better insight into myself.

Case in point, my most recent blog entry. After he read it, he came downstairs with a thought-provoking comment about the final section.
I am enjoying this process. It's satisfying to watch the pile of completed pieces rise each day. And even if I can't really say whether my work is improving, I can say that my mind is. I'm feeling more relaxed and willing to try different things, even if they don't work.

Could it be that I am becoming comfortable with the idea of failure? That would be a very welcome development.
He reminded me of the story of Thomas Edison's invention of the carbon filament for electric light bulbs. Edison tried hundreds of different ideas until he found the one that worked. Edison said,
"I have not failed 700 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 700 ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that do not work, I will find the way that will work."
Kevin suggested that perhaps I should only think of each piece in terms of whether it works or does not, rather than label a piece a failure. He reminded me that I'm doing this to try new things and that I should focus more on the process and less on the final product.

I thought I was thinking about it that way, but that critical word failure had slipped in anyway. His pointing it out reminded me that I need to be aware of the words I use to talk about my work and make sure that they are constructive and supportive rather than critical and destructive.

Like I said, he's a very smart man.

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