"Promise me you'll always remember: You're braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think." A.A. Milne

Sunday, December 19, 2010

What If Failure is No Longer an Option?

The presents are bought and wrapped. The few events I have schedule for the family are on the calender. The food I need for upcoming events is being bought as we speak. We are ready to go for Christmas. With those taks accomplished, my mind is moving to the New Year. I don't make resolutions. I don't keep them and then they are over. I do, however, set goals to work on. These have evolved to have a theme. The theme this year is "Overcoming My Fear of Failure". It is a biggie for me. Even talking about it stirs up the butterflies in my stomach. It is going to be good, scary but good.

This has me thinking about our culture of winning and how that attitude has affected all of us but especially me. Recently, I was involved in a rather heated Facebook argument about winning being the most important thing. I said it wasn't. I was lambasted by a man that didn't know me. He told me I had a horrible attitude and my attitude was going to ruin my children (that he didn't know if I had or not) and I was going to make them....weak! He was really serious about his position.

After much thought I have decided that for myself, growing up with a winning is everything cultural mentality is what really contributed to my weakness. Don't misunderstand me, I am not promoting the extreme opposite idea that you can't ever let your kids fail or lose becasue it will damage their self esteem and that would be horrible. That is just as bad. But here is my admission, my desire to win to suceed was so strong it created a debilitating fear of failure within me to the point I would no longer even try something if I could not guarantee extreme success. I simply would not even try. Then I had no possibilty of failure.

This attitude has robbed me of so much. Truth be told, I have a sneaking suspicion I am far from the only one. I believe this theft has happend on a mass social scale. It robbed me of experiences, growth, lessons to be learned, humility, overall it robbed me of the journey. The journey, I am quickly learning, is what it really is about. The end event or product is a small, small part of the whole if you think about it.

It also takes away from your personal relationships. These are far more important than winning in my estimation. The winning is everything mentality quickly produces a winning at all costs life. The ends justify the means. Run over and trash that person you refer to as friend because otherwise, they might beat you. That may snatch that victory for you. Don't stop to help someone on their own journey because that humilty and compassion is really just weakness. Winning doesn't have room for that.

Well, winning may not have room for that but my heart and my life has room to spare for it.

Let's talk about failure. Seriously, what if failure was no longer an option because your focus turned to the process of achieving the goal and the lessons you learned? What if you change your perspective to see the achievement is truly giving a goal the best you have? What if the best you have was less than your all because you desired to maintain balance in your life? These things are what I am thinking about with this coming year just around the corner.

A couple of practical things I am planning on doing is running a half marathon in April and studying aerial silk arts this summer. Both are scary to me because there is a possibility I may not be able to achieve the goals to the perfection I normally would demand. I can finish the half but will I have the grace for myself needed if I can't run the whole thing? Aerial silk arts is that cool thing you see on Cirque de Soleil, two long pieces of fabric hung 20ft plus in the air and the perfomer climbs and winds the material about her body and then turns every which way. Come on! I am almost forty years old! Will I be strong enough? Limber enough? Will I fall on my head in front of nubile 20 year olds? Will I have the humility and strength of character to laugh with joy when I do? Will I find beauty in the movement no matter how clumsy or unskilled? I truly hope so. I hope I learn these lessons.

So, I am embracing this journey. I am embracing the possibility of failure. I intend to explore my perceptions, my inhibitions, and my heart and discover the greater lessons contained beneath the surface of winning and losing. This year, I hope to grow more than ever before. Want to join me?

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