Thursday, June 07, 2012

The Other "F Word"

That's what a friend of mine calls failure.  "I hate it," she says.  I don't blame her.  My fear of failure is a giant, grotesque monster that keeps me huddled under the covers rather than out doing stuff and enjoying life.  More specifically, in terms of this month's mission, fear of failure makes it almost impossible to relax.

Which means, of course, that it must be banished!

Two neat things fell into my lap recently to help me slay this dragon.

The first was an article cut from the Business Life section of the Financial Times called "Setbacks can set you on the path to success." It fell out of a library book I was reading. It talked about having a healthy appreciation for failure: "Obsessing about past errors is not wise but to imagine that [life] is an unbroken series of victories is to court disappointment," it said.  It pointed out--in the way that only a British publication can--that "We can all expect our fair share of cock-ups in the future."  (There you have it!)  It went on to say that failure is rarely as devastating as we anticipate.

As someone with extensive experience with failure across almost every sphere of life, I can attest that this is true.  More good has come of my failures than of many of my successes.  Weird, right?  It sometimes takes awhile--years, even--but it's never not happened.  (Which is why I can still read the passage in the Bible that says, And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose without collapsing in hysterics.)

The second thing came yesterday, in a blog post by an entrepreneur  (I can't find it this morning but I'll be back w/a link when I do) She shared how growing up, their family dinner conversation often started with her father asking them, "What did you fail at today?"  This wasn't to make the kids feel like losers, she assured us, but rather to make them consider whether they'd stretched far enough in the things they'd tried that day to bump into failure.  He didn't want his children to grow up playing it safe.  

I LOVE this!

I don't fail often enough these days.  But I suspect that making that "bump" -- the place where my plan collides with the outer reaches of my ability -- a goal rather than a fear will change things, allowing me head out into each day planning to stretch, reach, and try, rather than hedge my bets.

Hedging produces tension...have you noticed?  Reaching and stretching is (counter-intuitively) a more relaxed way to live.

So (for this month, at least) I'm into it.  We'll see how it goes :)

1 comment:

LB said...

Two silly but relevant quotes I've seen recently:

"Failure always comes before Success in the dictionary."

"The only mistake is the fear of making one."