If you try to fail and succeed, which have you done?

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dswain001 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

" If you try to fail and succeed, what have you done?"

This question is a bit vague. Have you succeeded in failing or have you succeeded in failing the task in which you wanted to fail? How does one go about attempting to fail? Do they just not attempt the task at all or do they sabotage themselves?

I guess it would be safe to assume that someone who attempts to be unsuccessful at something, but is successful in that task in spite of their efforts, have failed at their original task, which was to fail. For example, Johnny is running for Class President, but he is "trying to fail" so he doesn't campaign and shows up at the debate 30 minuets late. However, the day the results are announced, he has won the election. So, although he was successful in winning the election, Johnny has actually failed because he wanted to fail.

drmonica eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I actually like this question. There have been a few times when I have decided that I'd rather fail at something than succeed at it because I didn't have the choice just to opt out of doing it with no consequence. Sometimes the consequence is worth the failure.

For example, if you are stuck in a terrible job, if you fail at it the boss might go ahead and fire you. This failure actually forces you to take action to find a new, and perhaps better job. The boss also might offer you a severance package to get you to go ahead and resign. This is an even better outcome for your failure. Perhaps you didn't really fail, except in the eyes of the boss.

Susan Hurn eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Wow! Apparently the word "failure" is a hot button here! I like this question because it seems like a puzzle. My answer would be "both." Suppose you are taking a test. You try to fail the test. You do fail the test. So . . . You failed the test, AND you succeeded in your efforts to fail the test!

We can turn that scenario around, also. You are taking a test. You try to fail the test, but end up with a passing score. So . . . you succeeded in that you passed the test, AND you failed in your efforts to post a below-passing score.

I think I have a headache now, but that was fun!



lynn30k eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When I worked in research labs, there was an attitude on the part of some workers that you should not get too good at a procedure you didn't like doing. I guess that kind of goes along with what you are saying. The people never did, as far as I could tell, intentionally sabotage anything; they just were slow at things they didn't like, or bothered others with numerous questions. So while they weren't trying to fail, they were trying not to succeed too well.

Your question can be interpreted so many ways...do you mean that you succeed at failing, or you succeed at a task in spite of trying to fail??

Noelle Thompson eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I couldn't help smiling at this very philosophical, open-ended, and hypothetical question.  There is no "correct" answer to your question, for any answer (as long as it is supported with proof) would be acceptable.  I put your question under the same heading as I would the following:  "Which came first:  the chicken or the egg?"

However, if you pressed me for an answer, I would say this:  "You have done both, my friend.  Both."

cburr eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Your question doesn't really turn on your reason for wanting to fail -- such as wanting to avoid unwanted tasks, get attention or punish yourself.  If you want to fail, and miss that target by in fact succeeding, then you have failed in what you were trying to do even though you succeeded according to some objective or external standard.

linda-allen eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This question needs to be on the discussion board.

Why would you try to fail? What is the purpose of that? I suppose that if your goal was to do something very badly and you do end up doing it badly, then you have accomplished your goal. Isn't that success? What a question!

dbrooks22 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

If you try to fail and succeed, you are not really trying to fail at all. In fact, one would have to put forth the minimal requirements or do nothing at all, depending on what the goal was or wasn't. So personally, failing is just a lack of commitment and effort.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator
You will never succeed if you never fail. Usually it takes several failed attempts before you can actually be successful at something. If you never try, you'll never get better enough to be successful. Not giving up is what makes genius and good progress.
eljay | Student

If you try to fail and succeed, which have you done?


You succeeded to fail.

This is especially applicable when considering goals and activities. Attempting to accomplish a task that is counter-productive to your mission, is failure whether you succeed at it or not. In this topic, if you succeeded, you only succeeded at failing, and if you failed, you failed at failing. Either result is a failure because you set out to fail, which can produce only one of two results – fail or fail. This illustrates the importance of wisely choosing tasks when trying to achieve a goal.



swish | Student

if u try to fail but succeed then u surely succeeded in ur goal but if u try to fail and fail hen u succeeded

sfamiss | Student

This is a great question and even greater answers.  If I aim to fail and achieve that goal, should I not be proud that I reached my goal because it is not the result, but the effort and commitment exerted that would be praised ("as long as you do your best!").

If I aim to fail, and succeed at failing, then am I a successful failure?

Chicken or the egg!  Love this post!

unity | Student

I don't understand why you would plan to fail but ok. Umm maybe if you plan to fail but then you suceed then maybe thats saying your good at whatever you tried to fail

frizzyperm | Student

If you try to fail and succeed, what have you done?

We often try to fail in life. It is usually a borderline subconcious decision taken when we are too scared to try properly. If something is too daunting, for example an exam or a job or a relationship, then we just make a deliberate hash of it. Then we can tell ourselves that we didn't try properly so it 'doesn't count' as a proper fail.

Teenagers are especially good at totally failing something because it is too stressful and difficult for them to risk trying properly and still failing. They 'justify' their failure by convincing themselves they 'don't care' or that it's 'stupid'.

If you try to fail and succeed in failing, in reality, you have failed to try.


devanil | Student

Has anyone given a thought to the phrase '' When ignorance is bliss,why do we pursue knowledge and spend a great amount of time and money for that pursuit.

krishna-agrawala | Student

Trying to fail is like wearing a black coat of white colour. Aperson has succeeded when he or she achieves what was aimed to be achieved, and failed when that is not achieved. One can only fail. There is nothing like achieving failure. When you switch on a lamp, you generate light, but you do not generate darkness by switching off the lamp.

However one may want to fail in some specific way. Like a person may be happy to fail medical test for recruitment in army, if he does not really want to join the army. In such limited interpretation of failing we can say that a person has succeeded in achieving what he or she wanted to achieve, and therefore has succeeded.