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February 22, 2006

Which Process? Understanding the Purpose of Procedure

“Life is a process of becoming, a combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death.” ~ Anaïs Nin


Lots of people have lots of different opinions on what process is and means. For some, this notion is a philosophical key to life and for others a big wasted of time. Nin's notion seems to contrast another famous persona's concept of life and the game of process. Television's Oprah Winfrey once said . . .

. . . "I do not believe in failure. It is not failure if you enjoyed the process.” What do you think about this rather different take one the subject of "process."

In an earlier entry, we discussed the importance or necessity of procedure when writing or preparing assignments for class. But, in the wider picture, why are processes important in the first place and what is their purpose?

Life is a Process of Change.jpg

As a writing exercise that will, hopefully, get us around to thinking about the importance of process as a composition model, please consider the previously listed quotations, choose one and then think about the following questions.

1. Why did you choose this particular quotation?
2. How does this relate to your life? Your beliefs? Your experiences?
3. What does this quote make you think/remember/feel?

After you've collected your thoughts, please share your reactions in the comment box below. Before doing so, in your response, please include answers to the following thoughts:

4. What is the common thread between these two quotations?
5. What is the philosophical difference between these two ideas?
6. What aspects of life do the two women agree upon?
7. Where do their ideas begin to split? Any contradictions?
8. Think about the Robert Frost poem we wrote about, “The Road Not Taken.” How is the analogy of life as a series of crossroads or paths to choose different or alike from the idea that life is a process?

I look forward to reading your remarks!

Best wishes,


Posted by lhobbs at February 22, 2006 12:03 PM

Readers' Comments:


This assignment seems really hard! Your students are good to keep up with all this work.


Posted by: Georgia L. at February 22, 2006 05:23 PM

Professor Hobbs

I chose the quote by Oprah Winfrey because it is uplifting and positive. It makes me think that when attempting something, failure should not be feared. I think Oprah makes a good point. I can add that if you learn new things and find out what you are good during the process it can be a success, even if you fail completing the original goal. Goals can be changes while they are being perused. When I attempt something I try to focus on the end result. At the end I reflect on what I have accomplished, even if I have not accomplished everything I set out to. I take in the things I have learned the value of the process.

This quote reminds me of when I was a senior and I set a goal to get straight As. I had never gotten all As in high school. I did not accomplish my goal, but the result was that I got the best report card I had gotten in high school, which to me was good enough. In the process of trying to reach my goal I worked harder in and about of school.

Oprah’s quote is like the quote by Anaïs Nin in that they both speak about failure. They both think it should not be taken so literally. They are different because Oprah makes it out that there is no such thing as failure if you get something else out of it. Anaïs Nin explains how people feel after they have failed. Both quotes can be linked to the Robert Frost poem we discussed earlier in that the man in the poem did not feel to be a failure because he was not doing what was considered normal. Things do not always have to turn out the way they were originally meant to be.

C. Robinson

Posted by: Cathy at February 22, 2006 06:01 PM

Professor Hobbs,

“I do not believe in failure” It is not failure if you enjoy the process.- Oprah Winfrey. Why I chose this quote instead of “Life is a process of becoming, a combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death.” ~ Anaïs Nin is because, this one stuck out at me. There is so much truth into the the statement I chose. This statement gave me a change to sit back and really think about what failure means to the world and what failure means in my eyes. We all see failure differently. Do you really fail even if you give it your all? Thats what came to my mind when I read that comment and that's exactly why I chose this quotation to be discussing. How this relates to me in life, is that there is no doubt about ti everyone fails at least once in there lifetime. The thing is did they truly fail? In my eyes you only fail if you don't put anything into it. If you put all your heart and soul into it and you still don' pass, I don't consider that failing. I consider that giving it your all but you couldn't quite get there. I don't look down on those people. My belief is if you tried and gave it your all passes in my eyes even if you fail. “You try, try again until you pass.” There is no such thing as failing if you actually try. I have experienced this a lot throughout my nineteen years on earth. This quote makes me think a lot about what the world today sees as a failure and what they see as passing. Everyone's views on failure is different some are similar but theres a lot of differences I see out there. This quote makes me feel like someone sees where I am coming from that failure isn't failure if you learn something from it in the long run. The common trend between these two quotations are that they are talking about failure. But, they are not viewing failure in the same way. They are viewing it in there own personal ways. Oprah is view that failure is ok and acceptable if you learn from your mistakes, but Anais Nin is saying in the second quote that we fail in life and that failing affects our state of mind. Anais Nin does not accept failure. But, Nin does say that failure is all around us in the world. The aspect of life that these two women agreed on was discussing about failure and that there is failure in the world but they didn't agree on if it is acceptable or not. These two ideas began to split on there acceptance of failure. Oprah agrees that failure is in the world but it is ok to fail if you learned from your mistakes. Nin agreed that failure is in the world but it is not acceptable that you do not learn anything from failing and you have to pay the consequences for failing. How this is similar to Robert Frost poem the road not taken is that these two woman have two different ideas about the concept of failure. There are two roads this argument makes you can only choose one of the roads you can't agree with both the woman. What ever way you go has consequences. You have to choose the road wisely because what ever way you choose your going to have people saying the opposite way. Stick up for what you believe and don't ever let anyone influence you on your opinion.

Jennifer Giuliani

Posted by: Jennifer G at February 23, 2006 02:12 PM

Professor Hobbs,

I chose the quotation "Life is a process of becoming, a combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death." , by Anais Nin. This quote related to me more in the way that I view failure. I have been in many situations where I was really down and came back from it because I knew it was only a little part of my life. I would not let myself be held down by one mistake or little failure.

This quote makes me believe that I can always make it if I just believe and keep trying. I feel that this quote is an inspiration for people down to look at it as only a state and not a life style. This also reminds me of my friends that was close to in my early teens that I strayed away from. They were always negative about things and seemed down. I could not be around that kind of environment because it brought me down too. I hate to see my friends down and not do anything about it.

The common thread between the two quotes is that failure is a process. One quote says that failure is a state in which you elect to be in and can be over come. The other quote says that it is not failure if you enjoy the process meaning you gained something from it. They both agree that failure is apart of life. There ideas begin to split when Oprah's quote says that it is not failure if you enjoy it. I think this is contradicting because you still fail even if you do enjoy it. For example if you lose a game but had fun you still lose the game. I believe the poem and the quotes go together. The road less traveled is the one where people will run into trouble and failure. When you travel that road you will feel alot better about yourself because you made it through everything.

Thoryn S.

Posted by: Thoryn S. at February 23, 2006 03:42 PM

Professor Hobbs,

I chose the quote by Opra Winfrey saying this, “I do not believe in failure. It is not failure if you enjoyed the process.” I chose this quote because I felt it was an interesting outlook. I guess she has gone through some hard times and even though it was rough she is glad of where they brought her.

I can understand that looking back she is glad of where the hard times brought her, but I don’t think I could say I enjoyed the process. I’ve gone through some hard times as well and I hated every second of the process, but I am glad where it brought me and what I’ve learned from it. I do believe I failed, but I have a second chance to start over. I wouldn’t say that I didn’t fail or that I don’t believe in it because everyone fails.

Both quotes talked about failure and they both centered around this same theme. The main difference between the two quotes is that the first one says you should keep trying even when you fail. The second one says if you keep trying when you fail, you will eventually win. They both agree that there is a time in everyone’s life that they will fail and they both agree that you shouldn’t give up. Their ideas begin to spilt when Opra makes it seem like you will win eventually and she says that she enjoys the process. If you relate this to Frost’s poem you can see how we take paths and they don’t always get us where we want to go, but that doesn’t always mean we should not try another path because we can learn from the paths that didn’t work out.

Sam H.

Posted by: Sam H. at February 23, 2006 03:52 PM

Professor Hobbs,

Through life people go through all different phrases and changes. We all have to go through each of them because we have to and that is how we live life. Some people wish to stay where they are at. They seemed to be comfortable where they are at, but then they realize they are stuck in that one point of time. Some are lucky to get out. Others stay in it like it’s their death.

I chose this quote because it explains life and the challenges we face. I have gone through phases, where I was stuck and I did not know how to get out. I was lucky that I was able to get out. This quote makes me feel that you have a chose on whether in life you survive or just let yourself die.

Both quotes refer to how you do not have to let yourself fail. The first quote says that failure is death, while the second quote states that there is no failure. You have a chose to enjoy life. The two quotes do have some differences. Their ideas split when they talk about failure.

With referring to the Robert Frost poem, the cross roads we come across are like the phases that we face.

Posted by: Kelly J at February 23, 2006 05:27 PM

Professor Hobbs,

Oprah Winfrey’s comment, “I do not believe in failure. It is not failure if you enjoyed the process,” is very interesting one. When I first read this quote, I was amazed, because I feel similar to Oprah. I also do not believe in failure, just as long as you gain knowledge from the experience. If one keeps this idea in mind, success in life is sure to come. I believe that this is a reason why Oprah is wealthy. Reading this quote makes me feel inspiration. It makes me want to go out and try everything I haven’t yet. I know that by trying something, the most important thing to remember is what I gained from the situation.
Oprah’s quote is similar and different in many ways to that of Anais Nin. Nin stated that, “Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it.” Both women agree that failure is real and both acknowledge it. They also both agree that life is a process. Where the two women disagree is in the fact that failure is good or bad. Anais leans toward the side of failure being bad when she says, “This is a kind of death.” She obviously feels that failure is bad, while Oprah says, “It is not failure if you enjoyed the process.” Oprah feels that failure is acceptable if one enjoyed the process. I think that the two women apparently have different views about failure, but I think that they both agree that failure is a part of life.
When I read these quotes, I instantly thought of Robert Frost’s poem, “Road Not Taken.” The quotes can be related to Frost’s poem, because they all mention life. Oprah’s quote is similar to Frost’s in the way that she describes a process. I think that Frost’s poem relates to a process too, because going down a road leads to other things. Once the road is chosen, it just does not end, it leads to something else. Nin’s quote also relates to Frost’s because she says that those who stay in one state fail. “Road Not Taken” is similar to this, because Frost is faced with a decision and can not sit there. He knows that he has to choose one in order to proceed. Where they differ is in the fact that Frost’s poem does not mention failure while the other two do.
I agree that life is a process, and that decisions need to be made in order to succeed. I agree with Oprah because failure is not bad just as long as you gain something from it. I agree with Nin, because those who do not try are failures. Life has a series of steps that differ depending on the person and the situation.

Kashiff M.

Posted by: Kashiff M. at February 23, 2006 06:57 PM

Professor Hobbs,

I picked the Anais Nin quotation because I feel as if she is trying to explain life. She states that throughout life, a person is always changing, as is the people, places, and situations they encounter. She also says that there are some people who try to remain in the same place and time, or "state," but it never really works how they want it to. They fail at being able to avoid change.

I relate to this quote due to the fact that there have been times in my life in which I did not want to leave. I knew that going on my life and leaving that situation was inevitable, but that did not stop me from wanting to stay in that exact moment.

Ali L.

Posted by: Ali L. at February 23, 2006 11:31 PM


Everything in life is a process. A process can be compared to a type of journey that one undergoes in order to learn, grow, and achieve possible goals. If at a time, doubt, over what can or cannot be accomplished is present in the minds of others, then it becomes another obstacle to overcome in order to continue on the journey. There are also times when life seems satisfactory and change doesn't appear to be needed. It is then that people choose to stop having goals for themselves and that in itself is failure. Life and the world are meant to be evolutionary. Without change there is no meaning in life. I believe that that is what Anaïs Nin meant by her quote.

Oprah's quote was more modern and fit today's life style. We are stuck in a world made for competitiors. The winners are accepted as worthy people in society and does who attempt, but lose, are forgotten. without any drive to keep trying and continue the process of life, there is failure.Oprah suggests that people forget about the forever present notion to win, and focus on the process it self and how enjoyable it can be.

I intially chose Oprah's quote, as the quote that applied most to me. I chose it because I am at a stage in my life where learning is becoming very difficult. Before college, one learns practical things that evolve and get more complicated overtime but once in college subjects that are entirely new are introduced to the curriculum and it becomes very difficult to learn something new in just a matter of a few weeks. It is tempting to just give up and face the fact that you'll never be the best in that field of study or be as smart as everyone else. However, this idea of enjoying the process of learning, even if you fail miserably at it, seems a lot more practical.

-Emily S.

Posted by: Emily S. at February 24, 2006 09:50 AM

Dear Hobbs,

I really like this quote because it is so relevant in my life. Just yesterday I looked back on my life and realized the low points are all times when I setteled into a certain state of mind and felt comfortable. I compare this to bad habits in my life.

I have a friend that everyday I point out a bad habit and they say, "I'm used to it, I'm oklay with it now." The point of me commenting on it is that I fear if they remain in that state of mind the are failing in a sense, or as said in the poem a "kind of death."

Posted by: P.Beckles at February 24, 2006 11:44 AM

“I do not believe in failure. It’s not failure if you enjoyed the process.”
-Oprah Winfrey

I chose this quote because when I heard it, I felt that it applied to my life. Many times, I have set out to accomplish goals in my life, and many people may have said it was failure to not execute the goal exactly as planned. However, I see it differently, I think that it’s fine to change your mind and your goals as you go along in life. Sometimes these changes make others believe that we have failed, but I believe that as a person is on the path of completing a goal, they learn and become wiser and can see that the goal they originally had can be improved upon and so make it a better goal for themselves. Not everything ends the way we intended it to, however, many times things change for the better.

Posted by: Kelsey L. at February 24, 2006 12:17 PM

Professor Hobbs

“I do not believe in failure. It is not failure if you enjoyed the process.” (Oprah Winfrey) I decided to choose this quote because it seems to be a genuine statement from Oprah Winfrey. Then I thought about it; what has she ever failed at. She lives the American dream: starting from nothing and climbing to a multibillionaire position. Of course she enjoys the process, she has nothing to loose.

Besides that fact, I still relate to this quote because I have experienced failure. It wasn’t a good feeling, but I did enjoy the moments building up to failure. If I should fail at college, I know that these are the best times of my life. I believe in living the moments to the fullest, you never know how long they’ll last.

When I think about this quote I think of the Olympic contenders. They have worked so hard to get to the Olympics, and whether they get the gold or not, I think they’ll still be having the time of their lives.

After reading the quote from Anais Nin and Oprah Winfrey, you could see a similarities between them. They both are talking about failure. Both women indicate that failure is a state, but its up to you to decide if you want it. Nin acknowledges that failure is an option, while Winfrey negates it. Nin sees failure as an option, but allowing it to be viewed negatively. Winfrey conveys failure positively. In the Robert Frost poem the speaker chose a path that was less traveled. The speaker would not know if he failed the path or not if he didn’t try. Whether he fails of succeeds, at least he tried. The quotes also depict failure as something you should try, at least for the process.

Samantha V.

p.s.:Georgia, I know we are good keeping up with this. These assignments are insightful, but difficult. Luckily, we write most of it in class.

Posted by: Samantha V. at February 24, 2006 12:33 PM

Professor Hobbs,

I chose Oprah’s quite because it is very blatant, yet it has a multitude of meanings. Throughout my life there have been a lot of ups and downs, but thankfully they have only made me stronger. I believe that a person should never have regrets because at the time, it was what you wanted. There have been times when I did not get the “best” grade on an exam, but I knew I studied hard and tried my best. I never let it get me down. The quote makes me realize that as long as someone tries their hardest, stays happy, and has fun with whatever they’re involved in, they are living their life to its fullest aspects.

Although both of the quotes relate in that they deal with failure, I believe that they are more different. I feel that the first quote related to more of a process of trial and error, where as Oprah’s clearly stated that there is no such thing as failure.
Angela H.

Posted by: angela h. at February 24, 2006 01:51 PM

I chose Anais Nin’s quote because she is absolutely correct. By staying in one state of mind is a kind of death. A person has to experience more than one state of mind while going through all the different challenges that life throws at you. This relate to my experiences by me thinking one certain way about a particular situation. I cannot just keep thinking the same way or it will eventually affect me in some way later on. This quote made me realize that I need to move on from this particular situation before things end up badly.

Posted by: Liz Larry at February 26, 2006 01:21 AM

Dear Mr Hobbs,

I chose Oprah's quote because I also feel the same way. I feel if you try you best and enjoy yourself doing it, you didn't really fail at all. It reminds me of when I play sports. I don't always win every game or match, but I have so much fun participating that I feel I still won something.

Both the quotes are talking about process and failing. I think the first one deals with trying something new. It is saying, if you stay in a world that is always the same, you might as well be dead. You must try at life and learn new experiences.

The second quote is dealing with enjoying yourself, even though you fail. If you tried and didn't succeed,its ok.

Have a nice day,
Brendan L.

Posted by: Brendan L at February 27, 2006 12:08 PM

Professor Hobbs,

“Life is a process of becoming, a combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death.”

I choose this particular quotation because I believe that it relates to everyone in some way and at some point in their life. Life is a process and consists of different steps and corners that are necessary and needed in order for your life to take form. Being stuck in a particular moment, situation, lifestyle etc, whether it is good or bad can be detrimental. I believe that life demands change as a way to gain experience and learn lessons.

There are many examples in life where you experience something and ironically whether it is good or bad we are afraid to get out of it. For instance, when we are going through a break up with a girlfriend or boyfriend we sometimes enter into a depressed state and instead of rising above it, we remain in it. Or, we might have landed that perfect job and instead of working harder to get a promotion, we settle for the minimum. These two examples are very different but can have the same negative affects in the long run. It’s always good to accept change and learn from it. Doing this will make everyone one 10 times stronger and avoid “a kind of death”.

Adrianne E

Posted by: Adrianne E. at February 27, 2006 11:19 PM

Professor Hobbs,

The quotation that i chose is "i do not believe on failure if you enjoyed the process,"by oprah winfrey.

i chose this quotation because i beleieve in passing. the reason i believe in passing is that if you pass you will succeed. Passing is like winning and failure is losing.

The commonn thread is failure, they both believe that failure is a process.Oprah believes failure isnt total failure if u dont learn something from the process.

In the road not taken, he came along alot of hard work and failures

Posted by: Robert Bell-Sheppard at February 28, 2006 05:05 PM

From Failure to Success

There is some point in a person’s life when they have to face adversity. If they stand up to it they succeed. If they let it get them down and remain down then they fail. Failure is a process of life that people go through and have to overcome because it can cause a lot of distress and heartache depending on the seriousness of the situation. There are two quotes that go along with this very topic and have a lot of meaning for those that perceive failure to be the end with no way out. The true character of a person is revealed when faced with the challenge of failure by either finding good in their failure or remaining in that failed state of being.

The quote by Oprah Winfrey, “I do not believe in failure. It is not failure if you enjoyed the process,” is the first quote that goes along with the topic of failure. This quote is very simple but so inspirational for any person that has failed or is afraid to fail. The quote is saying no matter what happens if you learned or gained anything from the experience of failure it is not truly a failure.

From reading this quote, one would have no fear of failure because through a process they would gain experience and realize some of their better qualities. In some ways, this quote is a little contradiction to itself. The contradiction being that even if a person fails an attempt at something and gains knowledge or experience, they still failed the initial goal they set for themselves. Some of the goals initially set never do get fulfilled but other goals may be achieved along the way. This is where the second quote comes in to describe what failure really is.

The second quote in comparison to Oprah Winfrey’s is “Life is a process of becoming, a combination of states that we have to go through. Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death.”, by Anais Nin. This quote by Nin is more deep in the way she talks about the process of failure and life. She describes the actual process in steps of life as becoming the characteristics of the person. These characteristics come from everyday life and going through many processes physically and mentally through each day. She says that there are a “combination of states that we go through,” meaning the different states of good times and the bad times. She says that, “where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it,” meaning through the good times and the bad times people may choose to stay down in the bad times. When people get down it can be very hazardous to their health and in their daily works. No matter how far down and depressed someone is they can always come back to their normal self if they try.

This quote is very deep in that it shows that failure is a process that comes along with life’s process. It also says that failure is only a state of being and not a concrete thing. Failure can change and it is up to the person and their character to change the failure process. This quote gives hope to those who are always down and depressed. It shows them that their failure can be overcome and they do not have to stay in the same position that they are.

In some ways this quote could be about some people’s addiction to things, a “drug“. When a person is always needing or wanting a drug or just that little extra high, it is a state they “elect to remain in”. These bad habits leave the person feeling helpless making them more dependent to what ever “drug” in life it is they need. This coincides with the part of the quote where Nin says, “This is a kind of death”. The person who elects to be in a state is not really dead but failing to the point where they do not think it is possible to ever be up and successful again.

In conclusion, these two quotes show two sides of the topic of failure. In Oprah Winfrey’s quote, she is trying to say that there is no reason to ever fear failure. As long as people give it their all when trying to accomplish something they can never fail. They will always get something out of failure whether it be a learning process or just more experience in the subject. Through failure people are able to find their strengths and weaknesses and build from there. In the quote from Anais Nin, she is saying that failure is only a state of being in the process of life that can be overcome if people do not wish to be unsuccessful.

Both of these quotes are inspirational and both agree that failure is only a process of life. In a way both quotes are saying that people learn from their mistakes and this only makes a person’s character more strong. The main idea is that the true character of a person is revealed when faced with the challenge of failure by either finding good in their failure or remaining in that failed state of being.

~Thoryn S.

Posted by: Thoryn S. at April 19, 2006 09:44 AM

Professor Hobbs,

I compared Anais Nin's philosphical quotation to one by Willa Cather at the address linked HERE.

Thought you might be interested to see this idea taken into a different direction.

~Paul B.

Posted by: Paul B. at April 19, 2006 09:50 AM

Professor Hobbs:

I decided to critque the quote of Oprah Winfrey. I chose this quotation, because I agree with it. I believe that it is true and that I can relate to it. This relates to me, because I know that when I am doing something, and it did not come out correctly or suffcessful, I know that I didn't fail. If i had tried my best and would try to attempt it again, that I know that it wasn't failure. This quote motivates me, because when I am not doing well in a class, I know that I can always try again to do better. There are things such as second chances, or at least I believe so, so that I can achieve my goal. I think that if there were no second chances, then people would just give up all hope and we would not have many of the technology or developments that we have today.

Linda M.

Posted by: Linda M. at April 23, 2006 10:45 PM

Dear Prof. Hobbs,

I critqued Oprah Winfrey's quote, "I do not believe in failure, it is not failure if you enjoyed the process." If you enjoyed something that means it is worthwhile or that you got something out of it. When I read this quote I was reminded of when I was a small child in a competition and I didn't win first prize. The experience wasn't a bad one even though I didn't "win", but I found the process up to the end and even the declaration of the winner to be beneficial to my learning. This is true even with my faith. In the Bible, God shows us (Christians) that there are things to learn from falls and mistakes that you make. So it isn't to count as a failure, it is a process and thus you will be perfected because of it.

Posted by: Holden B. Jones at May 6, 2006 03:02 PM

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