Maybe one of the most intimidating things about trying new things is the fear that we will fall flat on our faces. It’s as if we are back in middle school, standing in front of speech class, paper wrinkled and trembling in our sweaty hands, praying that at the end of fumbling through our thoughts on Abraham Lincoln we won’t get laughed out of the classroom.
Why are we so scared to put ourselves out there?
Is it that the sweaty middle-schooler inside our heads is afraid of getting laughed at? Are we all just perpetually 13 years old, waiting for some jerk to raise his hand to let the entire class know your fly is down? Not that that ever happened to me….
At some point, if you ever want to learn from your mistakes, you are going to have to make some. It’s time to put your big girl (or boy) pants on and just get over it. Who cares if you get laughed at? My guess is that the same people who are laughing are the ones who are too afraid to put themselves out there, be vulnerable, take risks,
WE MUST EMBRACE FAILURE IN ORDER TO LEARN FROM IT.
Think about the first time you rode your bike without training wheels. Did you fall? Did you scrape your knees? Did you cry? (I totally didn’t…) Assuming that you are not a superhuman freak who mastered the art of bike riding in your first attempt, I think it’s safe to say that you failed. However, the important question is, did you learn? Maybe you gave up and still ride your bike with training wheels, I’m not here to judge. But for the other 99% of us, we got back up and tried again. We corrected our errors, straightened our handlebars, peddled a little harder and zeroed in on the goal at the end of the sidewalk.
What happens to us between the age of 10 and adulthood that so damages our psyche that we forget how to fail well?
The creative sphere can be a scary place because you are putting your heart, sweat and tears out there for the world to see, analyze and critique. However, creativity is in and of itself, a place where failure is a matter of perspective. Thank goodness we are not heart surgeons.
One example of the power of failure is a found in a young lady from Britain who had a dream of becoming a writer. After many failures and securing her place as a starving artist, she was ready to give up. In her commencement speech to the Harvard graduating class of 2008, she made the following statement about failure:
“IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO LIVE WITHOUT FAILING AT SOMETHING. UNLESS YOU LIVE SO CAUTIOUSLY THAT YOU MIGHT AS WELL NOT HAVE LIVED AT ALL, IN WHICH CASE YOU FAILED BY DEFAULT.”
It was from that place of failure that she found the freedom to be creative and imagine new possibilities. If J.K. Rowling had given up in the face of adversity, she would never have learned what it would take to succeed. Not to mention Harry would never have known his true identity, and who can live with the thought of that?
Every story, every song, every dream realized and success attained, has come on the heels of failure. If we allow fear hold us hostage, the world will miss out on all the creativity, imagination and innovation that is waiting to be released inside of us. So what's stopping you?
Because failure is just one step closer to success.
“Imagination is not only the uniquely human capacity to envision that which is not, and therefore, the fount of all invention and innovation, it is the power which enables us to empathise with humans whose experiences we have never shared.” – J.K Rowling