Raise your hand if you love to fail!
(ok me either)
Seriously, no one ever gets out of bed and says, "Today's a great day to fail!"
When I think about my biggest failures in life, I still remember the pain. I think that's something that stays with us for a very long time.
But when I fast forward to the result of those “failures?” Without exception, every single one of them led me to a better place within my life or within myself (or both!)
I was an irrationally fearful child. Sure, I would talk to anyone, even people who weren’t interested in what I had to say, but I was terrified of getting hurt or of someone breaking into the house or the world ending. The list of things I feared was endless.
When the teenage years hit, it got so bad that I actually began sleeping on the floor in my mom’s room at night.
It got a little better in college, but what began as a fear of injury or victimization morphed into a fear of failure.
You see, I had always found school easy. Straight A’s were my jam. Even in college, I came through with only two B’s in 5 years (yes, 5). But here’s part of why:
When a class got hard, I dropped it. Not because I was afraid of working hard, but because I was afraid of NOT getting an A. So I set myself up in a safe little bubble, thinking I had found a way to never fail. Thus, I would always succeed.
Can you see the huge flashing warning lights going off?
Safe is no way to live.
Because by staying inside the lines of the one thing I knew I was good at, I stunted my own growth. I became good at one thing and one thing only – getting straight A’s.
It wasn’t until my first marriage failed, when I was 28, that I was forced to face the fact that I couldn’t stay in my safe little world of mediocrity and self-managed “success.”
When my marriage ended, it crushed me. I had never even considered the possibility that I would be divorced, let alone in my 20’s. I went into a kind of autopilot mode, and feeling like I had nothing to lose, I packed up my car and drove to Colorado. I didn’t know a soul there, but I was so numb from the pain of the failed marriage that I didn’t feel fear. I remember watching myself as if I was having an out of body experience, wondering where all this fearlessness was coming from. It was so foreign to feel that way. But during those first months, fear didn’t even register.
And that was a blessing.
As a result, I stepped so far outside of my fearful comfort zone that there was no turning back. Ever.
I discovered so much about myself by starting over in Colorado. I like to say I grew up there, even though I was close to 30 when I moved there. I won’t go into all of that now, but my point is this –
Had I not experienced the biggest failure of my life, I wouldn’t have found my soul.
I would have continued my life of mediocrity, never daring to push my limits. Never seeing what was outside of that safe bubble.
And what did I find outside?
So was it a failure? Or was it a necessary kick in the butt to move me forward when all I knew how to do was hide in my safe little bubble?
The answer is so clear to me now.
I am grateful for that failure. It changed my life, and it changed ME. Both for the better.
And while we can understand all of this intellectually, it doesn't make it hurt any less when we’re going through it.
But I have a question - If you knew beyond a shadow of a doubt, that at some point, days or even years later, that failure would lead you to the biggest success of your life, would you risk the pain?
I think if our dream is something we’re crazy passionate about, the risk of failure is worth it. Because passion can overpower fear.
As the poet Mark Anthony said -
“…one day she discovered that she was fierce, and strong, and full of fire, and that not even she could hold herself back because her passion burned brighter than her fears.”
Brave people aren't brave because they don't fear failure, they are brave because they push forward in spite of that fear.
Failure isn’t something to be feared, as uncomfortable as it might be while we’re experiencing it. It’s a necessary step in the journey to our dreams.
So let’s go out there and fail like we mean it!
Because the only way to never fail is to never try.