How to Fail

How To Fail


The modern world demands one thing above all else: that we succeed. The stories we tell ourselves are around striving, overcoming huge odds and eventually winning, normally in some important sector of the economy. Society has a particularly harsh word reserved for those who don’t make it. They are – society says - ‘losers’.

However, the greatest likelihood is that we’re going to fail in some area of our lives or another, especially in the professional sphere (the focus of this class is particularly on failure in relation to work).

Our society knows so much about preparing for success; and yet it pays recklessly little attention to the far more likely and urgent matter: how we can handle failure with dignity, understanding, wisdom – and perhaps a touch of humour.

This class looks at the topic across philosophy, psychology, art and religion, as well as probing into our own emotions and backgrounds. We consider:

  • The perfectionist drive in the modern world, where it comes from and how best to respond to it.

  • Our parents: what they wanted and how we fear disappointing them.

  • What lies at the heart of the dread of failing, especially as it relates to a loss of status and dignity.

  • What it means to fail ‘well’ – accepting our limitations without becoming bitter.

  • The real statistics of success; and how good we are at denying them.

  • The Ancient Greek idea of noble failure and the Zen Buddhist notion of good imperfection.

  • And the media’s influence on our understanding of failure and success.

This class seeks to equip us with the tools to handle failure on our own terms – which is a success of its own. We leave with a grown-up understanding of what we are up against and a consoling impression of the universality of reversal, imperfection and a degree of melancholy. No life is free of failure, and so we realise that failing well is an art all of its own – one of the most necessary we could ever learn.



Studying at The School of Life

Class Information

Time: 2018 / 07 / 26 (THU.) 19:00 - 21:30

Location: The School of Life Taipei

Language: English

Attendee: 30


Class Leader 


John Murn

Born and raised in a small town in Wisconsin, John's career has taken him to New York, California, Thailand, Malaysia, and Taiwan. With more than a decade of experience working in advertising, digital content strategy, and e-commerce, John loves living in the emerging tech hub that is Taipei. In addition to facilitating sessions at The School of Life, John is an active university guest lecturer and gives frequent speaking engagements related to his day job in mobile advertising technology.

John has lived in Taiwan a few different times, having first arrived in 2007.


How to Fail

NTD 950/Early Bird Ticket NTD 880

How To Class
When and where:
  • 2018年07月26日週四 19:00 - 21:30