The Ponder Effect | What is my best failure–continued?
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What is my best failure–continued?

This is a Ponder first: to continue a question from one week to the next. But I wasn’t ready to close the Board on this question yet.

Sometimes I think I should close the Board altogether. That perhaps this whole notion of trying to get people to ponder—to actively reflect on life and make intentional choices about how to live it—and then to try to get people to be brave and vulnerable enough to share some of their experiences with others (albeit anonymously), that it’s just doomed to failure.

If that’s the case, then Ponder Effect itself may be my best failure. If success looks like hundreds of thousands of subscribers and a robust Ponder Board each week and cars all over the country with our question mark on the back bumper, then it is failure central. On the other hand, I always said that if it helps one person, maybe one person each week, then it’s worth it. To quit because it isn’t successful according to the first definition might be a worse failure. Ultimately, I return to the question, Isn’t everything a notch on the spectrum of learning?

That is exactly why I’m not quitting—at least not right now. Because I believe we need to be learning, and one way to learn is by pondering. Sure, it’s easier to turn on Game of Thrones than to think about your best failure. But you can think about your best failure while you’re driving or folding laundry or having dinner with a friend. These questions are meant to accompany you throughout the week, steering you back to meaningful thought and conversation over and over again.

To the person who, last week, shared about calling off her first wedding and the discoveries that came from failing Spanish, thank you. To the person who talked about failing as a mom, thank you. What that does for the rest of us is help us frame our own experiences with a wider perspective. That’s the potential here.

Would anyone else like to ponder their best failure and share? If so, this is your lucky day…the deadline has just been extended!


Share your thoughts [All posts are 100% anonymous]

11 Ponderings
  • Anonymous

    May 5, 2019 at 6:29 pm

    I failed graduate school…twice. Embarking on those journeys to achieve academic excellence in a field I loved was part of the dream I clung to in my youth. So much so that it became my very identity. The outcomes, each in their own gloriously painful way, taught me the necessity of remaining open to possibility…especially when your heart is broken.

  • Anonymous

    May 5, 2019 at 6:45 pm

    To my best failure, neglecting my partner and my own authenticity for about 10 years. I was so wrapped up in doing, accomplishing, and creating a persona of me that I nearly lost it all. The best part about this failure is I found some really powerful answers that have guided me to stillness, peace, joy, love.

  • Anonymous

    May 5, 2019 at 7:48 pm

    This is a hard question, because sometimes it’s difficult to tell the difference between a failure and a change in the wind, or something that I gave up for good reason or because whatever it was was only meant for a season. Either way, I think my best failure is failing to be ambitious.

    So often, this is the thorn in my side. If I were just a little more ambitious – about my career, my children’s futures, etc. etc. – life would look different. But it would also feel kind of … small? Too … pre-determined?

    As a kid, I was groomed to be ambitious, pushed and pushed and pushed. Failure was NOT an option. As a result, I thrived and won and excelled. But I don’t parent that way, and I no longer hold myself to that standard. On the other side of ambition is a life I’ve found to be far more creative. It’s filled with great relationships and interesting possibilities. I still have “ambitions,” I guess, but they look different and, more importantly, they FEEL different. I’m glad I failed at being so hard on myself, and I’m really glad for my kids that they don’t have a mom who’s hanging all her hopes on their shoulders.

  • Anonymous

    May 5, 2019 at 7:52 pm

    The first thing to come to my mind was failing to stand up for myself when I needed to and failing to take good care of myself.

    I am reading Present over Perfect by Shauna Niequist

    Please don’t quit the Ponder Board

  • Anonymous

    May 6, 2019 at 8:10 am

    Fearing failure. Is my best failure. There is nothing to fear…failure, or the perception of it, is our greatest, most transformative teacher. The pain, the missteps, the shifts — these are the soul’s work. These are the seeds of life.

  • Anonymous

    May 8, 2019 at 10:47 am

    I am glad to have a chance at this question again. I have been thinking about it for almost two weeks. I think I am getting hung up on the word “best” so I am just going to ignore it.
    The continuous failure that I have is being judgmental. Jumping to conclusions about people and measuring them by my perception and my yardstick. I often (always) fail to stop and think that I have no idea what is going on in their lives, making them do or be whatever it was that irritated me or making them choose a value different from what I consider important.
    A failure I think of often is that when my parents and in laws were older I had young children and didn’t carve out as much time as I could have for them. I certainly didn’t neglect them but looking back I could have been more present than I was. I don’t beat myself up over this as I do remember how hectic life was with three elementary school age children.
    With this week and a half of pondering I think my greatest failure is that my faith is not as rock solid, unshakeable, personal as many people I know and admire. I am working on it as best I can but I am just not there yet.

  • Anonymous

    May 9, 2019 at 6:35 am

    Actually there are 2 that stand out. One going thru life always thinking of the NEXT event , job, or how I could fill my time. The pace robbed me of savoring the moment I was in at the time. I long to have those moments back.
    The second failure was being too critical in my marriage. Taking things for granted, expectations from a wonderful partner that were not in his DNA, letting those expectations compromise the truly wonderful relationship that I had.
    It’s too late now. He died a few months ago. How easy it is to see clearly after the fact.

  • Anonymous

    May 10, 2019 at 8:32 am

    My best failure is an interesting commentary… for myself I think when I realized that I couldn’t be my all in all…that I needed a higher power to direct me. This became my starting point for a spiritual journey. God himself is my foundation that is the definition of infinite love, grace and joy… keeps me realizing that I am always going to fail, but its ok as long as my foundation is strong. God helps me to wake up everyday to try over and over because I am held in his grace not my own.

  • Anonymous

    May 10, 2019 at 9:37 pm

    Failure is an intimate thing. We experience it and carry it as individuals. Sharing and owning it runs counter to our need to proclaim victory and accomplishment. I have failed repeatedly in love, life, and work. The most common failures for me have been in the work column of the ledger. This makes sense since finding that individual to share life with and create life with always was the most important. I hope that i will not ever fail to remember that.

  • Anonymous

    May 11, 2019 at 7:12 pm

    Giving up classroom teaching—before I was eligible to receive retirement benefits—led me to being a Nanny, a career I love.

  • Anonymous

    May 15, 2019 at 10:15 pm

    Failure is my closest friend. We spend much time together. He is most intimately acquainted with my limits and my horizons. At the most inconvenient times, he comes speaking softly in my ear as the voice of Defeat. When I least want him around he appears and sits with me as the presence of Loss. “But failure!,” I say, “go away!” “My child”. he replies, “I will always be with you” assuringly. I used to push and push and push for him to go away and yet he prevailed. Now, I look for Failure expectantly. I welcome him, I leave the door open and when he arrives I bid him come in and stay a while, I show him hospitality and look forward, attentively, to his next visit.