WHAT DID YOU FAIL AT THIS WEEK? by Art Smukler, author & psychiatrist

I wish someone had asked me this question when I was a kid, and I had done the same for my children.

This is now third-hand, but who cares? Good information should be passed along.

Fareed Zakaria, a brilliant educator and commentator, shared some details of an interview with Sara Blakely, the self-made billionaire developer of Spanx, a must-have underwear for women.

Ms. Blakely attributed her success to her father. Once a week he would ask, “What did you fail at this week?”

“Daddy, why do you keep asking that? I didn’t fail at anything!” Sara said, a puzzled expression on her face.

“I want you to live up to your full potential. If you only try safe things and are afraid to fail, how can you grow and improve?”

So one day, Sara told her father about something that she tried and how miserably she failed. Her father beamed with pleasure, raised his hand and hi-fived his lovely daughter. “I’m so proud of you!” he said. “So very, very proud.”

This lesson applies to all of us, no matter how old, or how jaded we’ve become. Trying new things and risking failure to follow a dream is sure to entail periods of anguish.

Writers are especially vulnerable. Sitting alone staring at your Apple screen, as wisps of ideas make their way from the darkened recesses of your pre-conscious mind, is a unique task and leaves one vulnerable and disquieted. There are no cheerleaders or decibel-shattering student sections to urge you on when you find the right word or idea. You are a cheering section of one.

The chances of success may at times seem dim and foolish, but four times a month you get to ask yourself the question, “What have I failed at this week?” No agent. No publisher. No signing deal. Buck up fellow writers. Next week is another chance to fail!

If you enjoyed reading, Inside the Mind of a Psychiatrist, you might also enjoy Dr. Smukler’s novels, Chasing Backwards, a psychological murder mystery, Skin Dance, a mystery, and The Man with a Microphone in his Ear. All are available as paperbacks and eBooks.