A letter about failure
This a letter about failure
Some weeks I have no idea what I am going to write about, and funnily enough, I worry that I will be letting people down if I don't write this letter. It is funny because there was a time when I doubted that I should even start to write this. My fear was that I would spend all this time writing and no one would read it. But the truth is that 70-80% of the people on my mailing list do read it and many also write back to tell me what my words meant to them. Which is so special it keeps me writing each week. It is also beyond anything I could have imagined. Now I know, even if I were to reach just one person, that would be enough for me.
My point is, fear of failure almost prevented me from starting.
The subject that I do end up writing about is always hidden in my week somewhere. This week listening to this podcast reminded me of what the little clue hidden in my week was.
It was a great podcast, I think Modern Wisdom is among my most listened-to podcasts and I love Lewes Howes too, it is always a treat when two of your favourite podcasters create together., I highly recommend you give it a listen.
A friend posted in our WhatsApp group that she had an epiphany about her fear of failure. She realised that she was so afraid of failing in life that it had prevented her from doing something and that that in itself is a failure. To which another friend in the group replied: “Failing is fun, it’s how you grow, you can’t get better if you don’t fail first!! In fact, the more you fail at stuff the better you become!”. You can see why this friend is one of my go-to people when I need help regulating my nervous system. Another friend shared the Hafiz quote at the top of this letter.
Sometimes failing is the point. In the gym, if we are trying to build muscle we are told to work to failure. And if a child learning to walk gave up at the first fall none of us would have mastered it walking.
Some of our greatest lessons come from our greatest failures. One of the most difficult things I had to go through in my life was the failure of my marriage. The failure to uphold my marriage vows and keep my family together. Now, out the other side of that, I can reflect on the last three or four years and see that it has also been the biggest period of growth in my life. I have learned so much about myself as I worked through this transition, that I feel like a totally different person from the young woman who took those vows. I see things from a totally different perspective now. I can give others more grace, I can trust myself more, and I am more self-centred, in a good way. What I mean by that is that I am more ‘of myself’. This means I am more able to give to others; my family, my friends, my colleagues, and my clients. I give from what ‘runneth over’ my cup, rather than from a cup that has been completely drained.
There is a difference in the sentences ‘I have failed at this’ and ‘I am a failure’ and this distancing from things and your ‘self’ is such a useful tool in any situation—especially a highly stressful one. I recently encountered this when someone was shouting at me. I managed to step back from myself and observe the situation. Instead of being engulfed by the emotions that came up, I did my best to become extremely present and then step back to become the observer. This can be used in moments of anxiety, fear, or stress. Can you divorce yourself from the emotion for a moment and become the observer? Can you remind yourself that you are not your thoughts? You are the thinker of the thought.
Some questions for self-reflection this week:
Is there something you would love to do but haven't started yet due to self-doubt?
What would you do if you couldn't fail?
What have you failed at in the past and what did it teach you?
Remember, you haven't failed, you have learned what doesn't work, and moved one more step closer to what does.
So what do you dare start this week?
One step at a time…