Do think failure is awful? Yeah, me too. As a perfectionist, my whole life is focused on avoiding failure. This year, however, I’m trying an experiment. I’m purposely putting myself in positions to fail and fail BIG. I’m learning that failure has lots of hidden benefits and in this episode, I share what I’ve learned from failing and why you may want to purposely fail, too.
Below is the podcast version of this article. The podcast explains things so much better than a blog post. I invite you to listen and also hear some examples and enjoy some laughs! Subscribe to the Podcast by opening your favorite podcast app and typing “Balanced Working Moms” into the search or click here for a link to the podcast on iTunes.
At the beginning of this year, I joined two coaching programs. They’re completely different. One’s about business and the others about general life topics.
But both have something in common.
Both coaches encouraged me to take risks and probably fail. BIG TIME.
I don’t like to fail. I see myself as a success. Why would I fail?
I have a theory in life that when you hear something multiple times from unrelated sources, the universe is sending you a message.
And the message I got for this year is that failure is a good thing.
I wasn’t expecting this message. It’s got nothing to do with my word-of-the-year.
I wasn’t expecting this to be the year of the FAIL for me.
But when I got the message, I accepted it, starting in January. I decided that failure was my path for the year and I would embrace it and see where it took me.
I decided to take risks and possibly fail MASSIVELY and not get upset and do it again and again and again until I had the results I wanted.
It was Hard
I’m not going to lie to you. My first fail was so hard.
I used to have depression as a teen and wow. After I failed big the first time, I was depressed for a day or two. It was scary to be that down. I prayed that my old depression was NOT resurfacing.
But I had set out knowing I may fail so by the next day or so, I was okay.
It’s all about intention.
And I thought…okay. Let’s do this again.
I tried something big. I failed. What big thing can I try next? And possibly fail. It’s become a game.
Can I tell you about one of my fails? This way you’ll understand what I mean.
This is personal and it’s a little hard to share. It’s easier to be general but you won’t get what I’m talking about unless I give you an example.
So here goes.
I decided to apply for a Fellowship program. I’ve never applied for anything like this.
I never even CONSIDERED it because I thought the program was for “leaders” and I’m not a leader.
I’m good with people. I’m an amazing coach. But a leader?
Isn’t that hysterical?
I must have an old, outdated image in my mind of a leader.
I’ve had over 35,000 downloads on this podcast. I send my message of balance to thousands monthly.
Not a week goes by that I don’t get a DM or email that I’ve changed someone’s life. And my clients also tell me this just about every session.
If that’s not Leadership, I don’t know what is.
So I thought — let’s do this! I filled out the application and I thought I had a great chance.
But I didn’t even get a chance to apply.
I was told that I couldn’t apply at this time since I was needed in other capacities. I have knowledge about a certain topic and I was told this knowledge is critical and I was needed elsewhere.
I had to get approval to apply for the fellowship and the answer was a resounding “not at this time.”
The program is only offered every two years.
I have to confess, I was so sad at not even getting the chance to apply.
I’d been excited at the thought of getting out of my comfort zone.
And I didn’t get approval to even apply. Ouch.
See, this isn’t really a fail, is it?
This is why I wanted to give you an example.
It was an example of me doing something that could have been enriching, life-changing, fun.
And I tried and I was told “not for now.” This doesn’t mean I failed, does it?
Technically, yes, but I choose not to see it that way.
Instead, I see it as something new I tried. And I’m proud of myself. And who knows, maybe I’ll do something different, even better. Or maybe I’ll do the fellowship in a few years?
Trying is How you Learn
I was thinking about another period in my life where I kept trying and stumbling, getting up and trying again.
Can you guess when that was?
If you’ve been listening to my podcast from episode #1, you may know the answer.
This, my friend, is how I learned to become a balanced working mom.
I didn’t learn by reading a book. Or listening to a podcast (I wish I’d had my own podcast to listen to.)
I learned by trying, falling on my butt, and dusting off and not getting upset, and repeating this process over and over and over again.
I’ll give you an example. At the time, one bit of common advice for working Moms (and still is) was to delegate.
People are always saying….do less. Don’t clean your own house.
So I tried it.
And for me, it was the worst thing ever.
I was so stressed out getting ready for the cleaners. If we left things out, they’d clean around it and nothing would get really clean.
They didn’t do a good job.
They’d talk on the phone the whole time and it was so loud in the house.
There were a lot more issues but you get the idea. It was causing me MORE stress to get help.
But everyone said working moms had to have this.
I tried. It didn’t work. I didn’t beat myself up.
Instead, I came up with ways to clean my own house that worked for me and my schedule.
See, this is a very positive post.
Because what I want to encourage you to do is to try new things.
And when they don’t work out, as many inevitably won’t, don’t beat yourself up.
Instead, applaud yourself for trying.
And then go try something else.
Because eventually, you’ll find what works for you.
I want to leave you with a beautiful quote.
The co-founder of twitter, Biz Stone said
“My success is built on a mountain of failures,” said Biz.
Biz said that he attributed 99% of his success to failures and 1% to luck. He looked at failure as a method of experimentation. Failure tells you what doesn’t work, and allows you to move on to a different approach and find an answer.
So my friend, go forth. Try things. And remember that your success will be built on a mountain of failures, and the more quickly you create those failures, the quicker you’ll get to your success.
What are you going to fail out this year?