The article draws upon the experiences of artists and other later life achievers who were considered failures at school and written off when they were young. The author makes a strong case for learning from failure and how failure can be a stepping stone to success later on in life. The thrust of the article is on how failing early can be a blessing in disguise for those who can raise themselves up from the ashes. To quote from the article, “We should hope, then, for exposure to failure, early and often. The sociologist Glen Elder proposed that there is a sensitive period for growth—late teens through early 30s—during which failures are most beneficial. Such a pattern seems to promote the trait sometimes called equanimity. We learn that trauma is survivable, so we dont plunge too deeply following setbacks. Nor, conversely, do we soar too high on our successes. Some businesses in Silicon Valley and on Wall Street make a point of hiring ex-pro athletes to their staffs. Its not just that their high profile draws business. Its because athletes are master compartmentalizers.” (Grierson, 2009).
What the above quote illustrates is that failures and the exposure to them can make for good personality building provided the individual learns the right lessons from the failure and does something about them. In no way is the author proposing that one should necessarily fail in the endeavors that one has chosen for himself or herself. On the contrary, what the author is stating is that exposure to failures can toughen up individuals and cause discernable and invisible changes in the psyche that can lead to success later on in life.
The point here is that when one fails during the “window” of late teens to early thirties that the author is talking about, it provides an occasion for rethinking one’s priorities and attitudes towards life. Once this introspection starts, the individual may well realize what is right and what is wrong with his or her life.