Updated: Nov 29, 2021
I have come to learn that failure is never really failure if we allow ourselves to learn the lessons in it. That truth brought so much peace and comfort into my life.
What I didn’t realize was that I had spent most of my life avoiding “failure” to the point I never had the opportunity to learn this lesson. I insulated myself, played it safe, and built up enough protection that “failure” was not even an option.
I avoided it so much that I over architected my plans and my life. I forced things to happen, I ignored the glaring signs pointing me in a different direction, I missed opportunities and open doors that would have made me even happier and more successful…because I was so focused on following through with my plan, and avoiding “failure.”
Trying to control everything left me stressed out, burned out, overwhelmed, and irritated. There wasn’t much enjoyment left in my life and I felt pretty empty inside, even though on the outside it appeared I was winning and successful.
I see this happening all around me at an individual and collective level. We miss opportunities to reach our full potential because we are in self-protection mode and have a negative relationship with failure. We stifle the ability for ourselves, our families, our communities, and our organizations to be their best because we don’t know how to embrace “failure.”
In 2020 I fully lived out my One Word for the year, “surrender,” and as a result, 2020 became the year I learned the most. “Failures” or as I like to call them, course corrections, became my greatest teacher. I still made plans and set goals, but instead of mapping out the entire plan from front to back, I embraced knowing only the next right thing to do. Taking a step, then reflecting, thinking, learning, and taking another step.
In doing that, my business, my relationships, and my life unfolded in even more beautiful ways than any plan I could have made. Instead of being frustrated by “failure,” I sat with it and soaked in the lessons, and got back up to try again. I learned the millions of reasons that things don’t work out or cause things to fail. Timing, other circumstances, and a myriad of other things that can cause people to give up or quit, but wouldn’t if they really embraced the lessons.
You have to learn to trust your intuition (in my case the voice of the Holy Spirit) to keep going, and listen for when you might need to adjust course. You can only do this by trying and “failing.” This was the greatest, life-changing gift I could’ve received in 2020.
We don’t have to know it all. We don’t have to have a plan from A to Z. We can have a vision, we can understand some of the steps, and we can partner with God and the world around us to continue to bring our dreams into reality. We can embrace Divine timing and Divine plans on the path to get there.
We are so focused on arriving at our goal that we miss all the lessons and enjoyment along the way. But what if the purpose is to never arrive? This is simply a journey to learn. What a beautiful and comforting way to go about life. With all the uncertainty in the world, embrace this as a time to experiment, explore, and experience everything in life. Learn to fail: Do the best you can. Learn all the lessons. Enjoy every moment.