There’s a sound that comes from the restroom at my office at odd times when I am sitting at my desk. I assumed it was due to someone on the other side of the wall in my commerce park using it.

But then my current assistant told me that the flush valve was bad, and that was why the toilet was flushing itself at odd times. (Note: We had not discussed the issue before he called it to my attention.)

Time passed, say a few weeks. Then I noticed it sounded like the water was running, again, when I had not been using the facilities! So I remembered to notify the landlord to check it out. My duty to save water and money, even though all the tenants split the bill.

Today, the landlord sent “Joe” to check it out. They determined that: 1) the noise only happens when the people on the other side of the wall use their facility and 2) the problem may be a broken fill hose in the neighbor’s tank.

So, my initial diagnosis of the failure being on the other side of wall was correct. However, the incorrect diagnosis of a problem with my toilet led to an investigation that will hopefully save money and water and help the planet. It goes to show that failures of judgement sometimes work out for the best! Failure isn’t always bad.

Here I will put in a plug to remind people that every time something breaks, it’s not necessarily a failure. Before we use the word failure, we are working toward clarity when we ask ourselves, “Specifically, what happened?” “Is this really a failure?” If it is, was it “the thing” that failed?

Learning to remember that there might be something useful that comes out of a failure is a step toward being able to take action to improve the situation.

I hate checking my blood pressure, but my doctor keeps hounding me. She’s trying all sorts of stuff to bring it down, but it’s not coming down as much as she’d like. It’s just depressing to see the numbers, so I check it as infrequently as possible. Maybe I’ll be able to take my own advice and program myself to see some benefit from high blood pressure that will work to overcome the negative mood that always comes after seeing the latest undesirable numbers.