Fail Early, Fail Often, Fail Forward

Almost all of us are afraid of failure. So afraid of failing, that we are afraid to even try. Many of us even take it a step further and are afraid of not doing things perfectly, which is impossible, of course but we hold ourselves to standards we would never hold others to.

This type of thinking is about not allowing ourselves or others to see our humanness or our vulnerability. It is about trying not to allow ourselves to be hurt. Where does this come from? Usually from being hurt very deeply and not understanding how another person could act so horribly, then fearing that it will happen again and that we won’t be able to do anything to prevent it or to make ourselves feel better. It is because we feel helpless but we are not. If you are an empath or a sensitive person, you may feel this hurt to a point where it feels unbearable but if you think about it realistically, you have felt hurt, sadness, shame, fear and a host of other emotions more times than you can remember and you are still here. You have survived.

I think that part of the problem lies in the perception of the word “failure”. Making one mistake can be construed by some as failing and so can coming in second in a field of 100 other competitors. I don’t agree with either assessment. We aren’t born knowing everything we need or want to know or with every skill we will ever acquire. The only way to gain these skills is by trying and learning, little by little. When I used to teach watercolor painting to adults, I often faced a room full of intimidated people. I started each class by asking them if they could ride a skateboard. Most of them said no. When I told them that they were obviously inadequate human beings, they were quite confused. Then I explained that if they didn’t expect themselves to be born knowing how to ride a skateboard, why were they expecting themselves to be expert watercolor painters without any training? The skills required are just as difficult and they needed to give themselves a break.

Never failing means never trying and never taking risks. I have often heard that the most successful people have failed the most, which makes sense and makes me feel good. Like any other human, especially one raised in a family where it wasn’t okay to expose your imperfections, much less admit them, I have my battles with being afraid to fail but I have learned that everything works out fine in the end and I have learned to face my fears. What is the worst thing that can happen? If the answer is failure, I have done that before, survived and I’m still here, stronger and more resilient than ever. I bet, if you think about it, you can say the same.

Check out this short video by Will Smith Fail Early, Fail Often, Fail Forward

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