Analysis of Books about Failure

“To Err is Wrong” by Roger Von Oech


In “To Err is Wrong” Roger Von Oech argues that failure is critical to the “creative process.

” Oech points out that from an early age; the education system influences people to believe that “right is good and wrong is bad.” Oech argues that success and failure are both outcomes of the same task. He continues to support his claims by explaining how learning to not make mistakes may lead to a timid thought pattern in which there is little stimulation for new and original ideas.

Oech recalls several conversations he has had with people in a variety of professions to back up his claim. Many of them mentioned how they embrace failure and how it can be a good indicator for their progression as a company. These accounts indicate a perspective in which failure is fairly common when thinking up new original ideas and help guide us to be innovative in the “creative process.”


I agree with Roger Von Oech’s perspective and arguments because many of the examples he provides are similar to the situations of other people I have observed. An example would be Elon Musk who is a well-known innovator of today with many multiple companies. Although, people mostly focus on his success, there are many chapters in his life that could be considered failures. When he was young, he applied to an internet company called Netscape in 1995 and was rejected. Because he could not get hired, he decided to make his own internet company.

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This is only one failure out of many in his life. As he ventured through life he has been through many ups and downs such as getting kicked out of his own companies zip2 and PayPal. He eventually decided that he wanted to make his company named SpaceX in hopes of making space exploration commercially available to the world. The company had a rocky start as people refused to sell him rockets because he was too young and blew up three rockets consecutively in 2006, 2007, 2008 putting him at the brink of bankruptcy. Despite the failures and people doubting him; Elon has preserved and continues to try and make space exploration commercial.

“In Praise of the F Word” by Mary Sherry


In the article “In Praise of the F Word,” Mary Sherry argues that the threat of failure can be used as a catalyst to work hard and achieve success. To back up her claim Sherry shares her perspective and observations from being a teacher for an adult literacy program, and a mother. From her role as a teacher she has read many writings of her students whom have persevered through various hardships of life, but still strive to be better. She realizes that they are afraid of failure to an extent that is not harmful. This fear is motivational to them more than it is intimidating. She also calls upon a story in which her son’s teacher was going to fail her son because he was slacking off. After she relayed the message that he was going to flunk he improved his grades very quickly. These examples support her claim by showing how the threat of failure have lit a fire of determination in her students and son.


I agree with Mary Sherry’s view on introducing failure as encouragement because most people do not take failure lightly. It is obvious that people do not want to fail because sometimes a failure might cause a person to lose a privilege or something of value. In a similar case to Sherry’s son; a high school friend of mine in our junior year of high school began to neglect school work to prioritize parties. He was then at risk of flunking and being moved to another campus of the school known for its reputation of having students who were troublemakers. He also knew that this would mean separation from his closest friends in a most crucial year of high school, which is senior year. He began to study hard and ended up passing because he did not want to be left behind.

“Zero” by Paul Logan


In the article “Zero” by Paul Logan argues that although failure can be an unpleasant experience it does not have to be a conclusion to a person’s success. He shows that it can give new perspective and flip the switch in a person. To support his claim Paul Logan uses a story of his own experiences from high school and college. In his experience, he had been bullied which caused his priorities to change. He began to focus on being popular and abandon his study habits and go with the flow of his classmates just to get by. Because his priorities drastically changed, he failed his first semester of college and had to work at a warehouse store where he had to collect carts; which lead to him coincidentally running into his old friends. The embarrassment that made him seem inferior made him realize that he could and needed do better. Therefore, he went back to college, regained his study habits, and then passed with a 4.0 GPA.


I agree with Paul Logan’s argument that failure does not mean you have to give up and that it teaches you a lesson to make you stronger. Many times, failure can lead a person to depression and the agonizing pain of failure can even push people into giving up. I can relate to Paul Logan’s story because when I was in my senior year of high school, I began to focus on school less but still managed to get decent grades and went with the flow and got accepted into college but was unsure of what major to go into. I ended up choosing Computer science just because people told me it had a good outlook for jobs.

Unfortunately, I ended up failing two classes, therefore my GPA was not high enough to be in the major, so I ended up being undeclared. This was a traumatic experience for me because this was the first time, I had failed in school. My failure caused me to hate myself, but I kept going to school anyway and began to explore my options and found that Geography appealed to me the most, so I brought up my grades and decided to strive for degree in Geography.

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