People always say you learn from your mistakes, but as a society that is so geared towards unsustainable perfection, we’ve become too sheltered to actually create opportunities for those mistakes. We’ve become hypersensitive to the word failure to a point where it is no longer synonymous with learning. We don’t allow ourselves to realize that striving for perfection is the main cause of failure in the first place because the world isn’t perfect.
Listen – it’s ok to fail. It means you’ve tried.
Failure has become a word with such a negative connotation surrounding it. You failed a math test that you tried really hard for. You failed at the race because you didn’t place. You failed at life because you don’t have your shit in order. You punish yourself in this thinking. You get in your head about a single failure and don’t step back to look at the bigger picture. As a result, instead of sizing up the potential learnings from a failure, and answering to those who have faith in you, you settle for little successes. You stunt your growth so failure isn’t an option. You play it safe. Small.
It becomes a never-ending cycle. Instead of feeling like we’ve failed, we focus on what can result in perfection. We seek out the kind of goals that are easily achieved. It’s important to ensure that the version of success you’re pushing for is a goal that is actually something you need to strive to achieve, to work to achieve. Sometimes that scares you, something that challenges you. If you fail, that is amazing. If you don’t, you’re still cradled within your comfort zone. You must break out of it.
Pick up an instrument and mess up the chord progression over and over again until you can master that song that makes you feel alive. Find a climbing wall and fall, fall, and fall again until you can conquer the climb. Pick out a new recipe, screw up the proportions and ruin the intended flavor, only to try it a week later and practice the wrongs to make them right. Find a friend and keep throwing a football back and forth until you can get that beautiful spiral.
Create a safe space in your life for little failures. Get comfortable with failure. You’ll become more open to the idea that it’s completely normal and totally ok. In every one of those situations of failure, you’ve learned from it and grown – how else did you get the spiral on lock? When it comes to something a little bit bigger than a bouldering wall or football, when the stakes are a little bit higher and failure is creeping up in the back of your mind, you’ll grow to recognize that it’s ok if it happens, and that is something that can no longer hold you back.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. Your playing small does not serve the world; there’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We were all meant to shine as children do. It’s not just in some of us, it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same, as we are liberated from our own fear. Our presence automatically liberates others.”
It took me a few reads to recognize that that’s what the quote is saying. “Other people” can refer to just that, or yourself – it all depends on who your demon is.
When was the last time you failed?