Failures as the Building Blocks of Success

Breakdown is a Breakthrough

In the Eye of the Storm

An individual response to the Global Crisis

ISSN 1939-3407

April 24, 2020

Ashok Bedi, M.D., Jungian Psychoanalyst

Robert BJ Jakala PH.D., Jungian Psychotherapist

In a storm, the safest place is in the eye of the storm. My colleague BJ and I will share our daily reflections on this centering process from an Analytical perspective, sharing from the repertoire of our personal and professional experience. BJ is a psychologist and a photographer and will pick an image of the day that catches him in this collective crisis. I will amplify it from a Jungian Analytical perspective. We hope that this may offer you a baby step on the path to your own unique response to this chaos.

Hence, I regard the loss of balance as purposive, since it replaces a defective consciousness by the automatic and instinctive activity of the unconscious. Which is aiming all the time at the creation of a new balance and will moreover achieve this aim. Provided that the conscious mind is capable of assimilating the contents produced by the unconscious, i.e., of understanding an digesting them. (Jung, 1956, p. 162)

The rock sculptures on the shoreline astound me. How did someone find and place the right rock for each layer? I wonder how they chose a rock and how many attempts were made to get it to stay in place. They organized random objects into an upright whimsical statement.

I do not know the defective elements that were set aside or not chosen. I only see the result. It leads me to think about how many times I have reconstructed my life. There were a lot of things left behind as well as carried forward. It is valuable for me to step back every now and again to see if I am in balance.

Whenever our attempts at building or balancing something falls apart, we may see it as a failure of our effort. While this falling apart or toppling down is disappointing to our Ego Consciousness, but in the bigger picture, it is a clear guidance from our Unconscious that it was necessary for this attempt to fail to avoid a much larger catastrophe if we doggedly pursued it further. The Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster on Tuesday, January 28, 1986 is an example of this phenomenon. The Rogers Commission found NASA’s organizational culture and decision-making processes had been key contributing factors to the accident,[3] with the agency violating its own safety rules. NASA managers had known since 1977 that contractor Morton-Thiokol’s design of the SRBs contained a potentially catastrophic flaw in the O-rings, but they had failed to address this problem properly. NASA managers also disregarded warnings from engineers about the dangers of launching posed by the low temperatures of that morning, and failed to adequately report these technical concerns to their superiors. Had the launch been delayed till the weather had improved or technical flaws addressed, we might have averted the disaster. It may have been seen as a failure of punctual launch protocol in the short run.

We have a similar problem presently. Some of us are keen to return to launch daily life and business, while others are heeding the caution by the Medical and other experts. Are we trying to launch prematurely? Is there enough dialogue by all the protagonists in this decision?

Similarly, in our individual lives, when things fall apart, or they don’t balance out, rather than seeing it as a failure, might we consider the possibility that we need to go back to the drawing board and re-calibrate the dynamics? Sometimes, the breakdown of a transient solution is a breakthrough of a fundamental and profound resolution of our dilemma. Instead of just putting the fire out, we may also focus on sealing the gas leaks in our system.

Every failure is a building block of a spectacular success. But this paradigm of failures as the building blocks of success is only possible if we reflect on the meaning and the message from our Soul embedded in these preliminary failures. The Wright Brothers learned from each of their attempts to launch their air planes and now we travel to the Moon, Mars and the Stars.

Some Points to Ponder:

  1. How do you define balance in your life?
  2. What maintains and/or challenges your balance?
  3. How do you establish priorities?
  4. Gravity is a constant force. What holds you together?
  5. When you lose your balance, how to you regain it?
  6. Reflect on instances in your life, when things fell apart in the short run. What was the outcome of this problem in the long term?
  7. When your plans fall apart how do you react?
  8. Do you try hard to fit a square peg in a round hole or do you try to go back to the drawing board for a more comprehensive review and resolution of the problem?

Photo taken on Oahu, Hawaii.

Jung, C. G. (1956). Two essays on analytical psychology: Meridian Books.

© Ashok Bedi, M.D. and Robert BJ Jakala, PH.D.