Thursday, May 11, 2017

I Fail

I fail.  I fail often in-fact.  Some of my failures are bigger than others.  Some affect only myself while others may have a lasting impact on those around me.  Sometimes past failures keep me up at night and potential future failures keep me from doing my best work in the present.  Failure can be all and it can be nothing.  It can keep us from reaching our potential or it can propel us towards it.  It has the ability to tear us down or help us to be great.  Like so many other aspects of life, the nuances of failure are often lost. They've been lost to me numerous times throughout life and it was only until the past few years that I really began to appreciate the teacher that failure can be.  None of this is to say that failure can't suck.  That it doesn't hurt. That it doesn't leave an indelible mark on one physically, emotionally, spiritually, psychologically.  We know better than that.  But it's a shame that the positive aspects of failure are often lost because within can lie unfounded greatness waiting to be revealed.

The other evening I mentioned to my wife that I'm awful at living in the moment and she agreed.  It was a revelation to me because I hadn't thought of it in that manner before but now that I have, it's maintained a considerable presence within my thoughts.  I have trouble enjoying things because I'm often thinking about what's to come after.  How is the house, the dog, her health, Caden's upcoming practice and game schedule, the travel to and from events and appointments, the future, the this, the that, the "how the hell does one actually live in the God damn moment and forget all the other shit for fucking 5 minutes."  Yes, thinking about not thinking, as evidenced by this post, is even an issue.  I absolutely, 100%, fail at enjoying almost everything because I can't focus and I can't settle my brain. And this is one of those failures that really hurts because it affects the time I spend with my loved ones.  It's not their fault and it truly bothers me that I can't seem to settle myself enough to be fully locked into those moments.  Lifting, working in the woods, and coaching seem to be the three more prominent times when I can shut everything out but given that not being fully aware for two of those could lead to serious injury or death, it would clearly be beneficial to find other, less stress inducing, times when I can remain in the present because clearly I'm making myself a candidate for a damn heart attack.

It's a bummer to think I couldn't relax here..
All that said, as I mentioned in the beginning, failure does present opportunities.  Being aware of what's happening allows me to take steps to try and combat it.  And if I'm successful I can look to build upon the successes, which in turn will both make life better and give me more to write about! That's certainly a win-win.  And it's not just with this example either.  With my current fasting experiment there has been some and will likely be more, failures that I'll have the opportunity to learn from. Shawna and I are working on a family budget (using actual technology this time!) and I have no doubt there will be some failures as we begin instituting it.  Hell, we've done this before and here we are beginning again so clearly failure has been part of the process already.  Whether or not we succeed in the manner we're pursuing cannot be known but as we begin the process, I feel confident the previous pitfalls can be avoided because we know what to look for.  And that's an area where prior failure can really shine; knowledge.

So, what's a person to do with all this failure?  My best advice is to first acknowledge and then utilize its lessons as we push forward.  I know that some of my failures are what have led me to success in the same way that some of them have simply led me to failure and no further.  Failing still scares me more often than I feel it should and at times I use avoidance to keep myself from positions where it's possible. Honestly, those times are more frustrating than if I'd just made an unsuccessful attempt but you only learn that through experience.  That's the shoulda, coulda, woulda feeling we all have at one time or another; the regret that comes from not even trying.  Is that feeling worse than failing?  I guess that's up to the individual but for me, the answer is a resounding yes.  I'm far more haunted by the regrets from not attempting experiences than I've ever been from trying and failing.  And yet, I still find myself from time to time falling into that habit.  Frustrating to say the least.

The reality is is that failure happens to us all.  No one is immune.  But it seems the ability to handle failure is a key component in what separates the successful from the unsuccessful.  The successful see opportunities within the attempts even if the task objectives are not met. They succeed because they learn and impart the wisdom from each effort not only onto that specific task but onto other tasks that may present similar challenges.  They both acknowledge and understand that failure isn't just a possibility but is at times, a necessary part of the process.  Sure, there are definite failures you'd prefer to avoid (See: Exxon Valdez, 08' Economic Collapse, Prohibition, ect) but it's hoped that even from those unmitigated disasters something good can arise (in the case of prohibition, not so much clearly).  And I guess that's what I'm trying to leave you with today.  The feeling that failure itself isn't required to define us.  Our response to it may but how many people talk about the shots that Michael Jordan missed at the end of games?  Or how many times Derek Jeter didn't come through in the clutch?  Or how many publishers turned down J.K Rowling before she achieved success?  Except for discussing them in the context of perseverance, not many.  Each of them not only used their failures as motivation, they used them as learning experiences because they knew they'd be faced with similar circumstances again eventually.  And that's something we can all strive for.  I fail, and because I do, I will also succeed.



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