It is rare for two or more people to have exactly the same defining idea of what something is or is not. The term operational definition was developed in the field of psychology as a means of acknowledging and addressing this problem, specifically in research study papers. When scientific researchers write papers they explain to the research paper’s consumers – readers, audience if you will – what specific terms mean.

Stating the operational definition in such papers clarifies what is being explained in terms of meaning between the author and the audience so that both have a shared understanding of intent. It minimizes misunderstandings; one person may understand hope for instance, in a very different way than another person. However, if a person says “this is what I mean when I say the word hope“, the other person knows to interpret hope in the intended context rather than their own.

When one examines failure as a topic, at least the kind of failure that deals with human beings, and the nature of the examination has to do with coping with or surviving failure, certain words tend to make repeat appearances. Hope is one such word, so is resilience, grit, tenacity, and perseverance.

These words come up a lot when people succeed after a lengthy period of failures and the success warrants other people asking “how did you do it?” Inevitably the responses involve things like “well, I didn’t give up. I adapted my strategies, I kept on trying, I didn’t quit.” Subsequently, they have been the subject of scientific research studies to determine why some people eventually succeed and some don’t.

According to, hope is the feeling of trust or expectancy that something that is wanted will be gained or that an event that is desired could happen. According to Oxford dictionary, resilience means the ability to recover from something; to bounce back from hardship or adversity. Grit has a few meanings but in this context, it refers to courage, determination, and strength of character.

According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, Perseverance means continuation of something despite obstacles, resistance, or failure. Tenacity is similar in meaning, it means continuing to persist and refers to determination in much the same way as grit. Hope, resilience, grit, perseverance, and tenacity are all factors in why when the topic is failing and failure the standard advice involves keep trying.

There can be no success in anything if effort is not made; don’t give up, keep going, keep trying to achieve; keep moving forward. Or at least take something of value from the experience if it does become necessary to quit. Sometimes the best thing that can come out of failure is learning something we never would have learned if we had succeeded. In every case of failure there is always the potential for lessons learned.