I do things with a high probability of failure built into them just for the learning experience.
So, let’s talk about failure. I fail—all the time, in fact. I’m constantly daring, risking, and there’s a certain amount of failure that comes with that. I don’t like it, mind you. It’s painful. Monetary loss can hurt, personal pride hits are hard, but interpersonal costs are the worst. Opening up and being vulnerable and taking risks there? SUPER HARD. But also where I stand to gain the most.
(Yesterday, I dared opening up to my teen and having a really vulnerable conversation with him. The point was not to guilt him or Mom him or motivate a certain behavior. It was to model in front of his face what being vulnerable in a relationship looks like and to repair a rift between us—one caused by a failure on my part. That vulnerability was risky—I could have messed that up too—but the reward was potentially high. In a sense, there was no way to fail that one—I would have been modeling the way I think we both should live, regardless.)
I always ask WHY when I fail—I want to look it full in the face and see it for what it is, so I can learn my full measure from my mistakes. But to do that, I have to be non-judgmental. I didn’t fail because I’m a bad person or a bad parent or have some giant moral flaw. I’m enough just as I am, while also seeking to do better in my life (in many areas). “Striving” and “being enough” seem like opposites—that’s a tension I’m still figuring out how to resolve. Often the answer comes in finding the root cause for a failure, rather than focusing on the symptoms. That requires a clear-eyed, non-judgmental evaluation—I have to be the forensic pathologist for my own failures in order to learn.
I’m not EAGER for failure, but I don’t shy away from it either. If it’s “success” you’re after, I can guarantee that’s the fastest way there. But for me, it’s the only way to know I’m as fully alive as I can be, right here, today.