Reflections on Failure, Part OneStumbling toward the doors of progress

This post first appeared on January 17, 2022 and is republished with permission from the author.

Disclaimer: The ideas below are my own and may not reflect those of OffSec.

A. Definitions of failure

The term ‘fail’ has all sorts of negative connotations in our culture. To make sure that we’re thinking through the same concept, we’ll start by choosing an operational definition of the thing we’re talking about. This definition isn’t meant to cover every possible use case of the term, but rather to give us some common ground to start communicating together.

We will define failure as an action for the purposes of this post. Specifically, it is an action that does not accomplish some predetermined goal – a goal that could have been fulfilled, had the outcome of the action been otherwise.


When the outcome of the action accomplishes the goal, we say that the action was successful. Similarly, when the outcome of the action does not accomplish the goal, we say that the action failed. Notice that in both cases, the goal and the action itself remain constant. The only change between the two scenarios is the outcome.

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