Friday, November 12, 2010

Happy Spectacular Failure Day

Via Orson Scott Card:

On this day in 1912, the frozen bodies of Robert Scott and the four remaining men of his failed polar expedition were found on the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica. Not only did they die, but they did so after learning that Roald Amundsen's Norwegian expedition had already succeeded and reached the pole before them.

It is not coincidence that in this double failure, Scott became a national hero in Great Britain, with statues raised to him all over the country. One wonders how he would have been honored if he had actually succeeded – i.e., if he had made it to the South Pole first and managed to return alive.

This is a day to think back on your most spectacular failures (assuming that they lie behind you rather than ahead) and think positive thoughts, such as, "At least I didn't die on the way home, the way Robert Scott did." If this is not enough to cheer you up, then list all the things you learned from your worst failure – even if it was only how to blame other people for it.

1 comment:

Mike said...

The question I'd rather ask is, "What if he'd made it back but was still second to Amundsen?" I've heard that the big controversy was that Amundsen ate his dogs -- as the supplies were used, the sleds got lighter, fewer dogs were needed, ergo, why carry so much food? Scott used ponies and refused to eat them, which was very noble but we see the outcome. Had he succeeded, could he have achieved fame as "First Man To The South Pole Without Eating His Pack Animals"?

Seems a bit of a stretch, doesn't it?