HoooOOoookay. Today I want to talk to you about failure.
I’m intimately acquainted with the act and the concept of failure. Seeing as I set myself a rather high bar in most things (except housework… obviously ‘rollseyes’) in life, I am quite familiar with the sting of falling short on expectations.
Truth is, I have felt like a failure most of my life.
Perhaps this feeling has a bit to do with the fact I had identified the concept of white middle class privilege (which is a concept that makes me deeply sad and annoyed as an adult) more or less as a pre-pubescent. When I was about 7 years old I boldly announced to my Granny: “We are actually upper middle class because we have a big house and can afford to travel.”
The weight of this realization meant that in my mind, I had all the ingredients to fast-track myself to a life of fame and fortune. I would even practice my Grammy acceptance speeches in the mirror, talking into a brush in my large pink room adorned with a cute little canopy bed and matching comforter.
So the whole time I was formulating a plan for total global domination through talent, kindness and superior intelligence, the main motivation was to give something back. I wanted to adopt all the lonely babies, feed all the hungry people, hug all the sad and lost souls. As an adult I want people to be judged on their characters, skills, and merit, not their gender, or appearance. And I’d like everyone to work together to clean up the mighty big mess we in the “developed” world have made on the planet.
Where was I going with this?
Needless to say, as a grown up I have not accomplished many of lofty goals I had set myself as a child.
My multi-platinum selling album of show-tune covers has yet to be released. The Dianna Goertz (that was my maiden name) home for sad puppies, lonely kittens and people who need hugs has yet to be built.
I’ve also had some pretty amazing wins though, and that’s due, in no small part, to my impressive catalogue of hard knocks and failures, and the resilience to keep going.
Now I have children. Four of them.
I adore them, and they are all very different. They blow my mind with their talents and how much better they are at things than I ever was.
I am also impressed with their ability to shake off failure and keep going. Well, a lot of the time. Sometimes they are defeatist little whiners, but that’s to be expected.
So I’ll tell you a quick story about Daniel as I am already over half-way through the word count l like to observe in these blogs.
Camp is next week. Three whole days in a cabin with his cohorts up at Shakespeare regional park. He is pretty excited. We got a letter saying he needs to stay back and get some extra tuition in swimming. Was he mad? Nope. Was he sad? Nope. Is he looking forward to the opportunity to improve his technique? Absolutely. He did not see this as a personal attack, he did not see this as a failure on his part. The kid LOVES to swim. We think he is pretty good at it. Not as good as he is at science or creative writing or video games or rock climbing, but he’s very confident in the water. He also recognizes that he is not even close to being the most popular kid at school. He’s been through bouts of bullying, he’s had no one to play with on the odd occasion. And you know what he says when he has a truly terrible day socially? “That’s okay mum, I don’t want to peak to early. You guys were nerds and look how you turned out.”
Could. Not. Be. Prouder.
So, today, as I try and squeeze out a blog to share after weeks of writers block and a back-catalogue of copy that has been sitting unwritten, I am reminded that a little bit of fail is part of the formula to a full and happy life.
This does not mean I am entitled to sit back and do nothing.
How do you deal with failure? Do you focus on it? Do you use it to gain insight? Do you beat yourself up? Do you make excuses? Do you lay blame? Do you deny it? Do you embrace it and try again?
I don’t have much in this life that I am truly proud of, but the fact I am helping to raise well adjusted little people with empathy, manners and self-esteem is fuel to keep going through these 80-90 hour work weeks recently.
So, if you’ve had a fail lately, be it big or little, keep going. Don’t lay blame or beat yourself up. Learn. Go get some extra training or tuition like Daniel has done with swimming. If there’s something you want to brush up on, don’t be ashamed to ask for help. If it is a project or report that is giving you grief, it is not unheard of to rip it up and start again.
Good luck with whatever you are currently up to, and thanks from the bottom of my heart for bearing with me through my creative drought lately. This too shall pass. XXOO