Failure sucks. Yup. We’ve all been there, done that. You tried and failed miserably. But what did you do with that knowledge? Did you give up? Go on to make more improvements in your life? Change something about what you did and repeat it to achieve success? I know that I have failed trying to do a yoga pose and actually fell on my nose…I luckily didn’t break it as I saw the fall coming, but I knew that I had to get stronger or I was not going to be able to hold myself up.
And that my friends, is what failure does for me. It makes me want to get stronger. I remember hearing this once about Thomas Edison when asked by a reporter if he should give up on the lightbulb: “Why would I feel like a failure? And why would I ever give up? I now know definitely over 9,000 ways an electric lightbulb will not work. Success is almost in my grasp.”
As difficult as it is to remember this lesson, other approaches to what you are working on might work better. If you feel like you need a fresh set of eyes on something, ask a friend for some objective help. From personal experience, I know that I didn’t start off knowing how to play soccer. I had to be knocked down quite a bit in the beginning. And mountain biking. Whosh. I will never forget how ermmm it felt like I had ridden a horse for days in the saddle when I was done with a ride once. I was like oh. That’s why people wear padded pants. Note taken. And then the bruises and scrapes from falling, but I got back up.
3 lessons I learned from failure:
- You get back up and try again. Okay, so maybe your ego takes a beating. That does occasionally happen in life. My ego went to the backseat as I was wrestling with invisible diseases. Things that had once been easy for me, like eating, became very complicated. Walking tired me out, so I had to learn new ways to get exercise in. I came back to yoga and couldn’t do things that I once had a better grasp on. I knew that it was time for me to get serious about moving forward and that I was really going to experience set-backs, but that no matter what, I couldn’t give up on what I wanted to accomplish. I was going to complete yoga teacher training even if I soaked in a hot bath with salts every single night. Even if it hurt to move…because one day, it wouldn’t hurt as much.
- There is more than one way to do something. I started dissecting what was happening to me. Most of you know that I am fascinated with research and the holistic approach to healing. I knew that I had to think, act, and imagine the goal being accomplished. I had to immerse myself in the experience of what I wanted…and I also had to think backwards. I would take a yoga pose and go slowly. If my hip was tight, I would have to work on hips for a while. If I didn’t feel strong, I would have to work on my core again, which side note, ummm had been cut to save my baby (emergency c-section). I couldn’t compare my progress to anyone’s in the room. Comparison makes you feel like a failure. <<< Do not do that to yourself. You only have to better than you were the day before and that is the root of my progress. I was not looking at where others were going. I only looked to myself.
- Failure was teaching me how to set myself up for success. I knew that throughout history, people have failed. I didn’t own it like it was my shame to fail. I didn’t think that inventors had woken up one day and said “Hey Wilbur, I think we should build this and fly.” Poof. They flew. Nope. The crashing part sets you up for that awesome day when you really do learn to fly. So sticking my crow pose, in yoga this was my nemesis for a while, well, getting into that and holding it for longer than a second takes work. I am still working, trust me, but the day I did it, I knew that I was making progress in many areas. Not just the pose or the form, but the act of not giving up. The act of perseverance and sticking to my goal.
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Without breaking the confidence and trust of my very close friends, I want to tell you about something I coach women how to handle. The word is fear. Most often, when I do a client intake, fear of failure at trying something new is there in the beginning. One of the most important things for me is not to push people, but to get them moving in the right direction. Once I see that, I can step back and let them go.
This fear of failure needs to be explored. De-cluttered. Looked at under a microscope. And then released. Once we have done everything we needed to do with it, we let it go…kind of like catch and release. How do you propose I teach you to do that in one short blog post? Well, honestly, that’s where my 4 Weeks to Wellness program comes in and you take the bonus option, but I want you to start today so that you have these tools under your belt for later.
5 Tips on How to Face Your Fears:
- Name it. Yes, I know. This seems too simple. But what exactly are you afraid of and why? For some of my clients, it’s getting better and I know this fear only too well. What if…it starts off like that. Write out all of your “what ifs” and “but this could happen” until you narrow it down to the one that clicks. The final reason. The real McCoy. The one you look at on your list and you say “Well, shit. I didn’t know I was still dragging this around with me.”
- Examine the feelings. Journal it. You knew I was going to say that. How has this held you back? What would it be like if you could get over it? What changes can you see coming into your life for the better once this fear has been released? Now that it is named and out there, it’s kind of like Rumpelstiltskin…the one from the fairy tales. It has no power. You know its name.
- Ask yourself why now. Maybe it came up because it was related to something else someone else is going through and you are afraid that will happen to you. Stop those kinds of stories right now. Is it something from the past? Is it something you are afraid of in the future? What are you missing out on right now by not fully living?
- Come up with the absolute WORST thing that could happen. Will you look stupid? Will you die? <<< that scenario might be the worst thing that really could happen, and if that is a thought, then go to your next question. Can you stop it by worrying about it? Could you join a support group and help others on the same path as you and thus by helping them face this fear, help you realize you are not alone? Could you turn this fear into a leadership role? Could you learn something new from it? Could you, in fact, live in the present and celebrate the abundance you already have? Could you meditate or do yoga to continue to help release this fear?
- Make a plan to move forward. What would the opposite of this fear feel like? What are your dreams that it has blocked up until now? Step into your light, no really visualize the white light of protection from this fear and step into it. Your dreams are possible. Repeat that mantra. Life is an adventure and it’s your to take. See the sights you want to see, take from it what you need, but learn to release what no longer serves you.
What makes others succeed in business or even life, while others do not? Grit. Plain and simple. I really like this idea from http://www.ted.com/talks/angela_lee_duckworth_the_key_to_success_grit on how we need to teach our children that the brain grows and changes in response to challenge. When you don’t believe that failure is a permanent condition, you are more likely to persevere. Wow. Let’s think about that shall we. This relates to my last post as well. Don’t you wish that some of your friends had more “grit” than they currently have? Why? Because it would help them grow. We have to be willing to fail in order to succeed. How crazy is that thought??
As a teacher, I saw the students who had true grit accomplish many things. Perhaps I had it as well because there were many times my first year of teaching I wanted to quit. Many, many, many times. Teaching in a very difficult neighborhood, in an area known for poverty and police tape was scary. Seeing the kids you taught overcome obstacles in their lives, now that took grit on their part.
You can start over again with lessons learned. Just because it didn’t work out the way you thought it would the first time does NOT mean you are a failure. You have learned something new. So we need to teach our children the meaning of failure and pulling yourself back up again. So on this last week of school, if you are a teacher reading this, I want you to know we have all been there. Every single teacher I know has had a year he or she wanted to quit. Even if only for a second. It’s okay to think that way. As long as you know you are not alone and that next year is a brand new year to try again. Start over with new plans, new ideas, and new ways of doing things because let’s face, the curriculum changes almost every year anyway. So rest easy this summer, and make a plan for showing your students some true grit come fall. You’ll be ready.
Ultimately there is no such thing as failure. There are lessons learned in different ways.