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On Failure

To fail “better” requires patience, with yourself and with the world that insists on telling you success is around the corner. Firestein says that failure can be an end in itself, in that it forces us to live with the unknown—the place where true creativity often resides.

“There’s that wonderful phrase coined by Keats: ‘negative capability,” Firestein says. “He defines it as a state of mystery and uncertainty, with no ‘irritable reaching’ [for a goal] involved. When you are uncertain, when you have mystery on your hands, when you can’t get to the bottom of it, that’s when the most interesting thinking happens.”

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