Spokane Community College



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The Benefits of Failure

Sarah Mann

English 101

Spokane Community College



People often ask me how I learned to cook. I could tell them I come by it naturally; my grandmother and mother were both wonderful cooks. I could say it's a talent, a gift from the universe to make my loved ones happy. Maybe it's a little of both, but the truth is much more than that. I've learned through failure. I've heard an African phrase describing a good cook as "she who has broken many pots." If you've spent enough time in the kitchen to have broken a lot of pots, or plates in my case, you probably know a fair amount about cooking. Spend much time with a group of chefs, and you will see them comparing knife wounds and burn scars. They know how much credibility their failures gave them. Still, most people would consider success and failure as opposites, but they are actually both products of the same process.

Wow! You can write!
Woody Allen once said, “If you're not failing every now and again, it's a sign you're not doing anything very innovative.” Success is boring. Success is proving that you can do something that you already know you can do, or doing something correctly the first time, which can often be a problematic victory. First-time success is usually a fluke. First-time failure, by contrast, is expected; it is the natural order of things. When learning to cook, I made many mistakes. Dishes were burned, eyebrows raised, and take-out was ordered. In the process, though, I learned what not to do, how to rescue a meal, and what flavors will work each other. I'm still learning, and I still make mistakes, but I have the confidence that comes from failure.
Oprah Winfrey wrote, “Think like a queen. A queen is not afraid to fail. Failure is another steppingstone to greatness.” By learning to embrace our failures, we become better people, capable of greater things. There are many stories of people who failed again and again, only to find success in the end. Oprah Winfrey is one of the most famous examples. After being fired from her first television job for being “unfit for TV”, she pressed on, never giving up. Her public failures with weight loss and her school for girls in South Africa have further emboldened her to press on. And all this from a woman who's own book is entitled, I Don't Believe in Failure. She used her failure as momentum to press her on to greatness, and while we all can't be Oprah, we can learn from both her successes and her failures.
As my hero, Julia Child, puts it, “The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you've got to have a what-the-hell attitude.” As a whole, our society seems terrified to fail. It shows how human we are, how very imperfect. What is so fascinating is, without failure we would never really succeed. They are two sides of the same coin. We can not learn without being taught, and failure is our greatest teacher. Whether it's cooking, writing, or even being a student, we will make many mistakes. The more we accept them, laugh, and learn what we can, the more we will succeed at whatever we put our mind to.
Sarah, from you opening sentence, I, as your reader, felt in comfortable, confident hands. This essay ROCKS for several reasons: first you have a rare-these-days musical sense of how your words will sound in your reader’s mind. I am not sure this can be taught, other than one teaching herself by having been an avid reader (
If you cook half as well as you write, you should open a restaurant!
I would like your permission to use this essay in this class and in other classes as a student example. I can keep it completely anonymous if you wish, and please feel free to decline if you are uncomfortable about it.

Jim
Grade 100+++++++++++++++++++/100

ESSAY PLANNING SHEET FORM

Sarah Mann
Name of Essay: The Benefits of Failure
Essay's Thesis Sentence: Most people consider success and failure as opposites, but they are actually both products of the same process.

Topic sentence of First Body Paragraph: “If you're not failing every now and again, it's a sign you're not doing anything very innovative.” Woody Allen


Topic sentence of Second Body Paragraph: “Think like a queen. A queen is not afraid to fail. Failure is another steppingstone to greatness.” Oprah Winfrey
Topic sentence of Third Body Paragraph: “The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you've got to have a what-the-hell attitude.” Julia Child

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