“What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?”
Someone gave me a pewter paperweight with that question engraved on it when I was 17, and it’s never left my mind*. It’s been on my mind more and more recently, as I come to understand the power of what those words hold in store for me, and more importantly, for you.
Look, I’ll be humbly honest with you: I am happy to say that I love my life, I love myself, and am proud of each of the scary things I’ve tried and faced along the way that brought me here. I had three kids in two years (including twins), navigated a divorce from a 14-year relationship with a peaceful and positive state of mind, coped with the loss of my little sister (and then a miscarriage), confronted all kinds childhood demons, taught myself to rewire virtually all my thinking patterns to believe in the good in me and others, started a creative agency, reinvented my career a few times over, bought my own house, entered a karaoke competition (and came second), drove the Pacific Coast Highway in a convertible, told off an Italian sailboat captain – in French – when he was violating my safety on board, and lived to tell all of the tales even stronger than I was before.
I understand what it means to face adversity, on an intimate level. And still, I feel the fear of failure.
No matter how many things I say yes to, no matter how many times I find myself on the other side of challenge, no matter how often I heave the sigh of “Oh my gosh, I DID it!” relief, I still have residual fears of failing.
And to be honest, I’m cool with it.
Our fears always serve a purpose; they are designed to warn us of danger to our immediate environment, and that’s a really good thing. When we stop and listen to that fear, and that fear alone, however, we are holding ourselves back from so many good things that we might not even know we are capable of having or experiencing. The truth is yes, when you try something new, you might fail. Heck, when you try something old you might fail – and that sucks. The immediate feeling of failure just plain sucks.
But you know what? The flip side is, you might succeed.
If you strip away emotion, judgment, shame, and fear of being vulnerable, you are left with a literal 50 / 50 chance: you might fail, and you might succeed. And when you have the courage and the self-love to go through the stripping away process, you can see super rationally that if it’s a dead split between the two options, oh honey, err on the side of possibility.
I want you to get into a place of thinking that “this might just work,” and “this might just be easy” and kick “I can’t. I might lose. I might get hurt” to the curb. Because you might not be able to. You might lose. And it might hurt…but you are worth too much, and have too much life in you to waste worrying about that. This life is for the living, and truly living is about pursuing joy, chasing passion and pleasure, trying and learning, over and over again.
The outcome never matters as much as the lesson you learn along the way. Each person, each experience, each situation is an opportunity to give and receive, moving you one step further along on this wind-y road of life.
So go ahead and love. Go ahead and be vulnerable. Go ahead and do the thing. Do it scared, and do it anyway. It’s the only way to give your fear of failure the finger, and come out better, and more you, on the other side.
PS – if you want some help getting to that place, I know a great coach who can guide you! Click here to book your free intro coaching call with me : )
*The paperweight itself, to be fair, is long gone, after I used it as a hammer throughout most of my university career.