Friday, May 6, 2011

Ambition is the last refuge of Failure

When Oscar Wilde wrote that 'ambition is the last refuge of failure' people applauded at yet another insightful phrase from this perceptive wordsmith.
Once the clapping had died down they then argued about what was meant by it.
This in turn ironically played the phrase out as ambitious scholars had to accept that their own interpretations were possibly flawed.
My own take on this is that 'Ambition' is a positive attribute, a driving force, a will to succeed.
Where could 'failure' possibly find a refuge in such a state of mind?


I believe that Wilde probably perceived that with ambition there comes 'challenges'. A desire to do something 'out of your comfort zone' or 'out of reach' .


With such new ventures there is always a greater possibility of failure because of the unknown. Life often requires practice, a succession of dress rehearsals. How many times do you get things right the first time?


Last Saturday Simon and I took part in the Pocklington Pedal Challenge 100 mile sportive. A traditional type sportive with challenges provided through frequent arduous climbs, zig-zagging between the Vale of York and the East Yorkshire Wolds. It included two trips into Thixendale an idyllic village only accessible to riders who have put in their winter training. Somewhere you would be as happy to leave as you would to arrive. To visit twice by different routes was as imaginative as it was sadistic. I can just imagine the organisers having a jolly good laugh as they thought up that one !!!!


On arriving at the start I was overcome with a great sense of unease as I walked to the signing on area. The gale force blustery winds were tugging at my clothes and caused me to tilt forwards in order to make progress. As we lined up for the start I surveyed the depleted entrants knowing that the remainder had sensibly silenced alarms and pulled the covers back over there helmetless heads. It was one moment in time that I was actually grateful for my additional poundage as some of the stickmen would surely be blown from hill tops. We were set off in two minute intervals and Simon and I took up the rear, with an almost immediate call of nature by Simon we were soon adrift. The first hill soon arrived the 400 feet, 16% gradient, and 35 mph headwind was a difficult equasion but =3.8mph of progress. It also required the skill of a high wire performer required to remain on two wheels. After 35 miles we started overtaking folk.........some who were forced to walk up some of the hills due to the wind/gradient conspiracy.


After 75 miles we were as close to the finish as we had been all day. Simon was suffering the psychological affects of having me glued to his wheel all day. Sensibly it was a position I was eager not to relinquish without a significant reduction in speed. He questioned the satisfaction and pleasure that the day had brought and suggested that we call it a day. I agreed.


So is this failure Mr Wilde?.........No way. Surely in these circumstances the lack of achievement is never 'failure' but merely a lack of success.
As I complete this blogpost I am following the weather for tomorrows sportive in Lincolnshire.

High winds and torrential rain.......................Although I intend to start there may be some further 'lack of success'.......... and ample supplies of water.

1 comment:

Trevor Woodford said...

Great post Philip...!
You make some interesting points.

Sometimes the success is in the ability to make the right decision- and sometimes that decision is to stop....

-Trevor