Author: Reid Kimball
Editor: OE Communications
This opinion piece was approved by the OE Communications committee by receiving the minimum number of at least 6 votes needed for publication.
When I was a young boy skating during ice hockey practice I pushed myself beyond my limits to skate as fast as I could. I ended up falling down and crashing into the boards of the ice rink.
I wasn’t hurt in the slightest bit, but it was embarrassing. I knew my coach would be upset that I had failed to skate correctly. After I finished the drill behind the others, he skated over to everyone and looked at me straight in the eyes.
“Did you all see what Reid did back there?”
I knew it. I’m toast.
“He fell down, but he didn’t care. He got back up immediately and finished strong.”
“You can’t be afraid to fall. Every chance you have on the ice, you push yourself harder and if you fall, you get back up and try again.”
I was smiling.
He finished, “If you aren’t falling, you aren’t trying hard enough.”
This last statement has stuck with me ever since and I think it applies to Occupy Eugene in spades, because within OE we have a problem with accepting failure.
Many of us are young and inexperienced; I am one of them. I have made lots of mistakes, some small, some rather large. I see lots of my brothers and sisters also making mistakes. It’s not because we are unorganized, don’t care, or agent provocateurs. It’s because we are trying and working our asses off. When we do this, we push the boundaries of what we are capable of and undoubtedly, we sometimes fall.
If we aren’t falling, we aren’t trying hard enough.
Despite our efforts, instead of helping each other when some of us fall, I see many within OE verbally attack one another. These attacks do nothing but demoralize and humiliate hardworking, well-meaning individuals from working towards creating the world we all want to see.
Is this what we need? To make everyone fear the opportunity that exists within each failure?
Some see Occupy Eugene as failing. Ignoring the debate of what equals a failure; in my opinion any failure is OK and is necessary. Without failure, we remain stagnant, quickly becoming old, and ineffective.
Within my professional career of video game development we have the philosophy, “fail fast, learn faster”. This is because video games are very complex to create and it is not easy to plan ahead what the end game experience will look like.
Instead of spending two years and millions of dollars on one core idea, we crudely implement many ideas as fast as possible, fully expecting that most of those ideas will be utter failures. But each one will help us get closer to our end goal of creating the best game we can.
Those who embrace failure, welcoming it with excitement, tend to grow the fastest.
It is said that Thomas Edison was interviewed by a reporter who asked him if he felt like a failure for having created thousands of light bulb prototypes that did not work. Edison answered, “Young man, why would I feel like a failure? And why would I ever give up? I now know definitively over 9,000 ways that an electric light bulb will not work. Success is almost in my grasp.” And he was right, because after surpassing 10,000 attempts, Edison invented the light bulb and our world has never been the same since.
With each failure we grow stronger. We learn something new about ourselves, our community, the Eugene police, the city council, and more.
But we won’t be able to grow unless we can accept failure, and we won’t be able to do that if we continue to attack each other for our well intentioned efforts.
The story of our hopefully future triumph will include all the obstacles and adversity we faced along the way, each failure will enrich the tapestry of our collective experience. Let’s not knock people who have fallen down, but help them to their feet when in need. Their failure should be seen as a success to be celebrated.
If we all knock each other down, who will be left standing to help us up when we fall?