Heads up – you know my little rambles about my own life are merely the prompt for you to reflect on your own life?
And so to failure:
I threw two fistfuls of dog nuts on the grass to entertain the dogs this morning; they found one or two and then ran back in to the kitchen looking up at me as if to say “more please”; that is quitting in my book!
Spoilt much-loved doggies 🙂
If life keeps handing you everything on a plate then it is too easy to ever need to stretch yourself to be/ learn/ do more. We need challenge or at least some element of difficulty to encourage persistence. And with persistence comes skills and success (failure and resilience).
What has this got to do with failure? Well sorta kinda.. and I am getting there. My two doggies didn’t even get to the point of failure as we know it because they quit before they tried. They could make the excuse that they were only looking for one dog nut each rather than admit that they would rather have found the twenty or so nuts that I chucked in the garden (which trust me the crows will find later!).
Failure is something that people fear; like they will be found out as the impostor that cannot do something 100% perfect every time; in other words that you are being judged and that judgement is that you ARE NOT GOOD ENOUGH. Fear of failure leads to people not trying, self sabotaging, and making epic excuses.
I am sorry to say but people just don’t want to hear your lame excuses; we want to hear how you got back up and made each failure count. Did you remain strong, did you try again, did you get back up, did you persist until you succeeded? Then based on the above you aren’t a failure (but may have failed the first, second…. one hundredth time).
Every successful person has failed, over and over and over, and guess what they got back up over and over and over, and that successful person was invisible for a long time until they took every failure and made it a part of who they are and integrated it into the journey to how they became seen as successful. Their success was nothing without failure; it is just that we often don’t tend to hear about it. We (want to?) see perfect and the reality is that perfect is built on many building blocks called “I failed once or twice or a gazillion times”.
If you ask me, the stories about their failures and how they made these into success is what makes people fascinating. The perfect people are rather boring; they often don’t take chances OR they are too scared to show us their imperfect side.
Having a good old rumble around with your failure is where you learn the lessons to succeed.
Failure breeds humility, gratitude, and a fire to try again.
I set a goal last year to compete and compete well at Ironman 70.3 World Championships 2018 on September 1st in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.
I failed; I am not going to even make it to the race start through no fault of my own. But I still have failed on the goal I set. Feck me have you any idea how that feels? Trust me I had some feeling sorry for myself moments – I am not perfect! I also tried my best to not wallow in it all for too long; nothing happens in the victim space only staying stuck.
This week I read comments from a lady who set off a massive social media frenzy when in July she said that she WILL race 50 ironman distance events in 50 days to raise money for charity. She withdrew; less than a week in. She posed the question did she fail? If she achieves one of these two goals has she failed? And does this make her a failure. Well sorry to say, but yes you did fail because you did not meet one of the goals that you claimed you would achieve. So this is a FAIL, but it does not make her a FAILURE? Nope. I don’t understand why it is so hard to admit failing on one of the goals she set and perhaps to admit that the goal may well have been beyond her and to graciously accept this. That is ok; most of us don’t like to fail; especially not in public.
Setting big goals increases the risk of failure but never diminishes how far we may grow in the process. To fail at something doesn’t mean that we are a failure. I would consider not trying a failure.
When we try we risk failing…
So, me? Well I failed on my goal. I worked my ass off all year, I stuck to the plan, I committed, and in the past two months I got sick and I am currently seeking answers. Where I am in my health is not related to the process I committed to, and cannot be my excuse. I guess all I can say is that it is what it is and that feels tough.
And somewhere in all of this there are some great lessons to be learnt so I am head first in to get answers so that I am back to 100% as fast as possible and given that this is ironically the realm that I work in, to apply these lessons to my clients. I guess you could say that getting better has a lot of meaning. I just cannot believe that I am back doing the tango with weird health issues again…. that is OK. The theme for me seems to be learning through me for others. So, perhaps there are a few more jigsaw pieces for me to add to how I support others.
One big lesson in this is that healing is very difficult when you hold fear and anxiety; I see now more than ever that what I do in my clinic matters: creating a safe space, giving people support to be themselves and a sanctuary to share their story and fears, combining science, complementary therapies, diagnostics and energy healing all together. Every piece matters.
Goals are important – the more the better!
I often write about goal setting, and knowing your why. I sit down every few weeks and write my goals for the coming weeks. Last year I opened up these two journals every week or so and would write in the pink one my training progress, strengths and weakness and goals for the coming block, and in the paperblanks journal I would document my goals and intentions for life and self growth – the real journey.
Writing multiple goals down is probably setting myself up for several failures! But I don’t believe this, because it is actually amazing to see just how many goals you do achieve once you write them down and set the intention.
Beautiful alchemical reaction between your heart’s desires, your subconscious, your soul, and the universe makes goals and dreams happen if they are supposed to….. but first you must ask.
The time line may not always be as planned and this is to teach us that we cannot always control every detail in the process. It is the intention and how this aligns with your being that I feel really matters.
I had many goals for this year – I only failed on one, I probably succeeded in 90% and some are still unfolding; this helps me mentally process the whole thing to be honest although I will admit that not being able to race is a major disappointment and there have been tears on more than one occasion. I am learning that sometimes there are deeper lessons to learn and that we cannot control everything.
To fail on a goal, sucks! But to acknowledge the growth in every step of the process is where I must focus. There is nothing more I could have done, nothing that I could have changed, and I have gained in every way as a result of the months of hard work invested.
I have gained strength, friends, experiences and many many beautiful, insightful and inspiring runs with my heart connecting to the energy of our amazing planet.
It will all count for something because I will make it so.
However, I still failed and there is no excuse that can sugar coat this.
Does this make me a failure?
This process has given me a thousand times more respect for the process, the athletes and the people who succeed at the set goal not only one time, but multiple times. It often seems that the Gods must be in alignment to support what they achieve time and time again. Yet behind the scenes I am sure there is someone human, that feels like they fail day after day and the difference is THAT THEY KEEP GETTING UP and THEY DON’T QUIT, THEY DON’T MAKE EXCUSES and they RADIATE SELF-BELIEF…. I guess this makes them leaders when they never even set out to lead; their ACTIONS speak volumes and is what INSPIRES us to take action. And then some day your actions INSPIRE OTHERS.
Why do we struggle to admit failure?
If you struggle with being open about failure have a look at your self-esteem and how you view your worth. How do you measure yourself and is this possible to achieve? We are probably aiming for a mix of impossible and sometimes possible; too easy doesn’t seem fair on our capabilities either!
A strong person can easily take the knocks of failure; it is only when our self-esteem is low that we struggle so much with failure.
Build who you are, build self-belief, practice getting up every day and giving your goals and dreams a shot…. it is the process that defines who you are.
Keep showing up!
Keep accepting that failure is a part of the process and you will become increasingly resilient and stop giving a shit about what others think and invest your time and energy in your passions rather than feeling a need to defend yourself and pretend that you are perfect. NO ONE IS PERFECT. The most interesting people we know are the ones that take risks, and embrace the mistakes.
So, what will I do?
- Learn the lessons – my pen is burning a hole in my journals of late as I process the lessons. There are a lot; I will make damn sure that this counts for something.
- Sort out my health – this is far smarter than pushing through and making things worse. I fought on for a few weeks when my health started to fail (because it didn’t make sense to me) and it made me a miserable anxious basket case. Multiple recovery weeks were not enough so I had to pay attention to the fact that something more was going on and it was not related to training. When you body is unwell at first she nudges, then she complains, and after this my next level is that she screams. To push past this is simply daft; I want to have many more days of failure (success). I see patient after patient completely train crash their health by pushing beyond, when they should be seeking support and advice. I am in a position where I must be an example; and so I will.
Without health we have diddly squat energy for chasing dreams and dancing the dance of life…
- Embrace the moment – this creates peace. Sometimes the plan has to change. When you accept this and that sometimes there are uncontrollable forces at play this stops the raging conflict within.
- Stop caring what others think – people will always talk. Is this going to stop me? Do the right thing, come back stronger and give them something even better to talk about!
- Perspective – seriously! Sometimes we place far more importance on that one thing while failing to recognize what truly is important. I will be 100% throwing all my love and energy out there in support of all my friends and loved ones racing WC 70.3 on Sept 1 and 2. OK, I fib, a larger chunk will be going out to my love Garron and to my super woman coach Annchen and the rest is going to everyone else!
- Don’t fight the process – there is only so much that we can control.
- Be honest with myself and admit how I feel about it all, it sucks that I didn’t realise my goal. I wanted to do this for me. I’ve always been told that I am the academic one in the family and this race was for me to see myself as achieving something significant in sport. Perhaps it runs deeper and I must see myself as good enough. I have always participated in sport and so must continue the journey of believing in myself and that I am good enough. The real work in progress! What I have learnt is that I work hard and consistently and have developed great mental strength.
- There is a time to fight and there is a time to gracefully step back and allow the body to work at her own speed. I have fought for many races and healed at break neck speed using strategies I share with my clients. If it felt right to force a fight right now I would; it doesn’t and I must accept this.
- Love and support is everything; we all need to feel safe and loved when the shit hits the fan. All it takes is one person. Thank you Garron. There are also times when we walk tough paths alone; remember that this one person is often ourselves. Self love is all the difference.
- Be productive – failing one goal doesn’t mean that I stop making the others happen; that would be insane! A lot of my journey was about applying the strengths and skills I am learning from this whole year to my work. I now have more time on my hands to invest in my health and also my work. My office has already had a make-over.
So, now is a new phase, with a new journal; and wow its pretty
PS Don’t you dare feel sorry for me; this fighter isn’t done.