All that work. I’m a failure. How useless am I? Why even try?
Wow, I read this from a friend of mine and thought that sounded familiar. Oh yeah. I said that. I jumped into my teaching/coaching mode and asked some questions to change the direction of his thinking and then formulated a plan of instruction to lead him to a better conclusion. Silly me. I should have done that on myself!!!
Why didn’t I? It’s harder to get perspective when you’re in the middle of the mess. When you’re stuck in a hole, all you can see is hole. You don’t see the birds and the clouds and the trees and the snow and the… see? All you see is the hole. Someone yells down the hole, “YOU SHOULD SEE THIS LOVELY SUNSET!” And of course you’re thinking, “What’s a sunset? I’m in a hole.” Someone else yells down, “I JUST HEARD THE MOST BEAUTIFUL BIRDSONG!” I’m hearing dripping noises. “YOU SHOULD TRY THIS MARVELOUS DINNER!” I’m in a hole–there’s no food down here. The people outside of the hole think that motivating you will get you out of the hole. Send someone down with a rope!
Failing at something is a normal process. If you were good at something from the beginning, you wouldn’t grow, you wouldn’t add to your knowledge or wisdom, you wouldn’t get stronger or more flexible. A failure is not someone that tries and goofs up. A failure is someone that doesn’t try anything new. Too much psychology spends time in labeling people and situations. All those silly tests and quizzes on Facebook tend to help you explore your giftedness and then slap a label on you. Which villain are you? Which Celtic myth are you? Which Harry Potter professor are you? Why do we do these quizzes? How do you feel when you discover that you’re too wimpy and kind-hearted to be a villain? Are you disappointed? What if you find out your not Celtic? What if you turn out to be the janitor in Harry Potter? Does that make you feel bad? I took a Hymn quiz and got 100%. This meant I was the elite of Catholics. I took the same test that said I was in the top 1% of Lutherans. Wait… It was the exact same questions! So what does that mean?
We have been led to believe that we must fit into a category or a description. We belong to this group or that group. We succeed or we fail. But that is not the case. In order to succeed, you have to fail. It is not the million dollars you’ve saved, it is the person you had to become to save it. It is not the marathon you finished in record time, it was the hours and hours of trying and failing that allowed you to run the marathon. It is not the straight A’s, but the student you have to become to get them. Each journey will have failures in it. You have to fall short in order to grow enough to succeed.
I failed in my diet yesterday. Yes, it was mostly protein–cheese, summer sausage,ham and cheese ball with Triscuits. Then I had homemade eggnog. Wow! I love that stuff! But I am not a failure. I will eat well today. I will do my PT exercises.
Failure is not a character trait, it is just a measure against a goal you set that tells you how far you need to go. Have you reached it? “Not yet.”
And if you know someone in a hole, get in there with them and work things out together. Happy New Year.