Definition of Failure – to fall short of success or achievement in something expected, attempted, desired, or approved: to receive less than the passing grade or mark in an examination, class, or course of study: to be or become deficient or lacking; be insufficient or absent; fall short: to dwindle, pass, or die away: to lose strength or vigor; become weak
Definition of Honor – to hold in honor or high respect; revere
In the world of personal development, we might hear bumper sticker statements such as, “honor yourself”, “honor your feelings”, “honor your shame and vulnerability” or “love yourself”. Never have I heard “honor failure”. Most of us live in fear of failing and therefore we never start putting ourselves in the game – the game called life.
What if failure was a road sign along the way to realizing our authentic vision? What if failure was a way in which the Universe informed us to pivot our efforts or to work harder? After all, when a failure occurs it is not that we are failures. Failing is something that we are doing that just is not working. Unfortunately most of us collapse failure into making it about ourselves.
Personally, I am often paralyzed by both the fear of failing and the actual act of failing! Usually it is my thoughts and considerations and subsequent feelings about myself that occur in both experiences that can be just as terrible as one another. I can see how this plays itself out in my work as a coach and speaker as I can stop putting myself out there with blogs, presenting opportunities etc. when I am afraid of “failing” at it. I can also see this in being a loving and present Mom and wife where I can ‘get in my head’ dealing with the logistics of the roles and don’t get present to the experiences of Mom and Wife, moment to moment. All of this means that I often live life conceptually and don’t take the inspired actions necessary to fulfilling on my greater purpose and mission that through intuitive results coaching, I empower soulful women in “breaking-through” any barriers to loving wholeheartedly so that we SHINE with purpose, presence, love, abundance, joy & wonder TOGETHER!
Nevertheless when I sat down to write this blog I was faced with the fear of failure instantly. “What will people think of what I am writing?”, “Am I sharing too personally?”, “Can I even write?”. These are all thoughts that rear their ugly heads in the face of living my vision and intending to contribute through my work as a coach.
Brene Brown said in her Tedtalk (which has had over 20 million on-line views) that “we live in a vulnerable world. And one of the ways we deal with it is we numb vulnerability…”. I am going to say you cannot have access to vulnerability being afraid of failure and you can’t fail without being vulnerable. It is the skinny edge of the branch of what our lives are about and we “numb” ourselves to it. I will add on that being in touch with and living from your purpose means mastering the state of vulnerability because it is where you have to be comfortable living in order to create the actions necessary to live from your purpose.
As most of us know by now, often we handle lack of vulnerability by numbing ourselves, and numbing can show up in a plethora of ways. Numbing can be developing extreme or mild addictions to food, alcohol, drugs, money, sex etc. to obsessions with negative self talk (as a habit) to constant states of distraction. This includes not being present to exactly how life is and exactly how it is not by distracting ourselves with texts, emails, TV, gossip, complaining etc.
I am going to add something on to the numbing list here. I say that another way we numb is by not dreaming about the vision we have for our lives or going for want we really want for ourselves and others (also called resignation) in order to avoid the possibility of “failing”. The numbing we do around not getting clear about our dreams and visions, finding and living from our mission and purposes, is probably the most insidious of all mechanisms. Not being in touch with our visions and dreams means then we get to tune out and not be responsible for who we are and can be in the world. The opportunity of getting clear about our visions and purpose on the planet can clear much of the need to numb away. It’s like there is no time for distraction or negative addictions when we are in the kind of FLOW connected to who we really are – living from our divine purposes.
A dear friend forwarded me this amazing video that speaks to how athletes have become arrogant and egocentric in their pursuit of winning, and have stopped working hard building excellence in their pursuit of “the win”. The video refers to “failing hard”, to putting everything into the pursuit of winning. The journey is about the vulnerability that is necessary to work hard towards accomplishing something you are passionate about; not about proving how we can win with the least amount of work. It’s about being vulnerable enough to work at your vision and mission and fail along the way.
I love when Michael Jordan said, “I failed over and over in my life and that is why I succeed”. He was never afraid of going the distance in the pursuit of dedicating himself to what he loved, which was the game of basketball.
What is your game? What do you love? What are you willing to fail at over and over again? What are you willing to give your vulnerability and passion to? That is the question.
Potentially the technology industry has some of “honoring failure” figured out. Chery Yeoh says in her article called Failure as a Badge of Honor that “In fact, failing is viewed as a badge of honor in the startup realm. Investors actually prefer to invest and even double down on entrepreneurs who are able to pick themselves up and go at it the second time as it exhibits qualities of resilience, resourcefulness, and passion. Ideally, these entrepreneurs would then apply learning’s to the second venture, so they avoid the same pitfalls. According to a Harvard Business School paper, Performance Persistence in Entrepreneurship, first-time entrepreneurs have only an 18% chance of succeeding in their first startup. A first-time entrepreneur, who has failed, will have a 20% chance of success in their next startup. Finally, all else equal, a successful venture-backed entrepreneur has a 30% chance of succeeding in their subsequent venture. Strange but true, entrepreneurs who have failed are more likely to get funding (from the same VC firm) than their successful counterparts.”
So there you have it. What if we were rewarded for taking risks towards accomplishing our visions? What if you failed miserably each time you went out to practice towards accomplishing your vision, your purpose, your mission? Would you stop or know that part of the game called life is honoring each and every time we fail as part of the journey? Most importantly what if we looked at failure just as road signs along that journey? Failures could be the Universes way of orienting us towards the true accomplishment of living in alignment to our visions and purposes.
“Failure is the opportunity to begin, again. Only more intelligently” ~Henry Ford