Genius, pt. XVIII

Aside from Mozart and Vienna’s other musical geniuses, Eric Weiner also researched about Sigmund Freud and other geniuses of Vienna’s second golden age. While looking into Freud’s research on cocaine, the author, once again, came across failure and how it affects genius.

He wrote about how it is true that geniuses “embrace failure,” but “it is also true that failures embrace failure. If anything, they embrace it more tightly. So, what is the difference between failure that leads to innovation and failure that leads to…more failure? The answer, researchers now believe, lies not in the failure itself but how we recall it or, more precisely, how we store it. Successful failures are those people who remember exactly where and how they failed, so when they encounter the same problem again, even if in a different guise, they are able to retrieve these ‘failure indices’ quickly and efficiently.”

I think this idea of failure and how people can either get better or worse depending on how they deal with it is also true when it comes to learning a language. I think I’ve written about it already before, but I have had different kinds of students and, as I said in one of our meetings in the cram school, it is the students’ attitude – their way of dealing with disappointments and mistakes and “slow” improvement – that separates the who give up and don’t get better from the ones who keep getting better and better.