Making Friends with Failure
I am in the middle of a fabulous failure.
Don't look at me like that. I have not suddenly lost my mind. And I am quite well aware that fabulous and failure don't usually go together like wine and cheese.
But let me ask you this: which thing sounds more enticing - a fabulous failure, or a dismal, disappointing one? Which one would you be more likely to risk?
I believe (when I'm not caught up in feeling sorry for myself) that failure and success are flip sides of the same coin and all about perception. What is success to one person might be failure to another. What is failure to you might mean success to me.
I'll admit that this morning I wasn't quite so philosophical about the whole thing. My internal critic was ranting from a soapbox, and I was serving as a very receptive audience.
"See?" it said. "I told you this would never work. Why can't you be contented to just work a day job? Why do you persist in writing books that might not sell, and creating businesses that might not ever make money? And why on earth did you think anybody would want to pay money to come to a class that you are offering?"
The emphasis here was clearly that if anybody else had been offering this identical class, people would have been lining up around the block to attend it, whereas my confirmed class attendance right now is pretty close to zero.
My internal critic means well, but it is not particularly polite.
Fortunately, I happened to be chatting with my friend Sara Sadie, who is also a KMCC coach and who immediately asked me all the right questions and reminded me of what I already know.
I want to share those things with you, because I'm guessing that maybe you also stumble into failure every now and then.
Five things I know about failure:
1. If you fail at something, it means you've succeeded at trying. (Yes, this sounds like a cliche, but it's true anyway)
2. Every failure comes with an opportunity to learn something new or grow in a different direction.
3. Successful people fail more than other people, because they are always pushing the envelope. (Edison failed A LOT. So did Einstein. And a whole bunch of other really famous people whose names I can't think of right now)
4. Failure is relative. Sometimes success is as simple as readjusting your expectations.
5. Failure clears the decks to start over or try something new.
So tonight I will be at my office, ready to teach a class that will likely have no attendees. I might be disappointed about that, which is understandable. I've worked hard to make something happen that didn't happen.
But you know what? Life is like that. Disappointment never killed anybody. None of the time and energy I've spent was wasted. I've learned things. I had fun. I've grown in new and unexpected directions.
So whatever happens, I'm calling it a success and moving on to the next adventure.
What about you? Is there a failure you've experienced recently that you can reframe as a success? I'd love to hear about it.
On another note, I'd love to extend the following invitation:
An Invitation to Clarity and Mindful Awareness...
I'm offering a fun, interactive two hour online class with my friend and collaborator Sarah Sadie. We'll teach you some fun tools to help you adjust your focus so you can tune out the static and pay attention to the things that matter to you. I'd love to have you join us!
WHEN: Saturday, January 13, 11 am to 1 pm pst
WHERE: Online zoom classroom (free download)
WHY: Mindful Attention helps you make positive progress on creative projects, improve your relationships, and adjust your trajectory in your career or any other part of your life.