“You haven’t even failed”

October 25, 2014 by Joshua
in Entrepreneurship, Nonjudgment

I stumbled onto a concept I suspect may become one of my important ones.

Science has a famous and useful phrase, “not even wrong,” that describes something not worth considering scientifically.

For example, science considers the idea that of Earth being at the center of the universe wrong. The evidence against that model is overwhelming, though for a long time it seemed plausible since the stars, sun, and moon seem to rotate around it. You can test the model to determine it.

Scientists like to say that astrology, on the other hand, isn’t even wrong. It doesn’t make any testable statements. People write horoscopes to sound right to anyone.

Supposedly the Nobel Prize winning physicist Wolfgang Pauli said the phrase first. He famously (among physicists) criticized theories he found lacking as “utterly wrong.” But even “utterly wrong” was a step above “not even wrong,” that you couldn’t even test or make sense of it. The phrase drips with contempt.

I’ve known people who have tried difficult things and failed. We respect those who picked themselves up from their failures and created new success. Some failed and never tried again. We all have in some areas. Sometimes when you get burned you stay away from what burned you forever. You have to pick your battles so sometimes you accept failure and move to other areas, intending to succeed there. We tend to have compassion for people who try and fail, especially those who tried their best.

Some people never try. I’ve written about fat people with diet books or wearing workout clothes they will never work out in. Some people work their whole careers saying they want to start a company but never do. Some people never ask out the person of their dreams. People stay at jobs they can’t stand their whole lives. They stay in relationships that make them miserable. I could go on, but you know what I mean.

Over the years I find myself filtering people like that from my life. I’m not saying they’re good or bad, just that I have more time for others, even the ones who fail.

Like a theory that isn’t even wrong, these people haven’t even failed.

I’m not sure, but I predict I’ll find this phrase—you haven’t even failed—useful.

What do you think? It’s a new idea to me, so I’m curious what others think.

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6 responses on ““You haven’t even failed”

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