Failure Is Not An Option (A Geeklet Story)

My oldest has been distraught lately over her first C on a significant exam, and we’ve been discussing daily whether getting all A’s is the most important thing in the world.  She seems to think I enjoy watching her get bad grades because it shows that she’s finally working hard enough, but she feels that if those bad grades cause her to not get into college then what’s the point.

“If I FAIL….” she starts.

“We fail?” I interjected, predictably.  “Screw your courage to the sticking place and we’ll…not….fail!”

Blank stare. Open mouthed, speechless daughter.

“Lady Macbeth,” I explain.

“That’s not what I thought you were going to say,” she countered.

“Also Beauty and the Beast,” I said. “Gaston.”

“That’s what I thought you were going to say.”

One thought on “Failure Is Not An Option (A Geeklet Story)

  1. Getting all A's is not only not the most important thing, it may not even be a good thing. Thirty years ago my brother told me about a fellow computer programmer at a high-tech firm. Back then you could get a job in computers, as I did, without even taking a course in it, demand was so huge: all it took was brains and willingness to learn on the job.

    Anyway, this guy was mommy's perfect little boy, with nothing but A's (not even an A-) on his report card from kindergarten through 12th grade, valedictorian of his high school back when high schools only had one. He went off to MIT or Caltech (one of those), where half the freshman class was valedictorians, got his first B, and couldn't handle it. He dropped out, took to drink (maybe not in that order), and ten years later was a bitter alcoholic making a third as much money in computers as he would have made if he had gotten a BSCS at his state university.

    I teach at a school for the gifted and often have occasion to tell this story to my students. The punch line is "Ambition is good. Perfectionism is good, as long as you keep it under control. Don't be that guy."

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