Teaspoon of Happy I Ain’t Too Proud To Fail Sarah May Bates

It’s a measure of great confidence and strength. It’s when your personal best happens. It’s when you decide to run as fast as you can and then you realize you actually can fly. Putting yourself out there and going for something that’s outside of your abilities-comfort-zone is hard to do because naturally, we don’t want to do things unless we’re good at them. But getting over that fear will give you more growth and strength and access to undiscovered talent than you could imagine. Push yourself to do things that scare you. Not in an irresponsible, “I might do something reckless,” kind of way, but in an, “I don’t know if I’ll do that well,” kind of way.

Failure provides the most fruitful kind of life-lesson, because it demands that you overcome fear and challenge yourself to be better. It also shows you where work/practice is needed. You can do anything you decide to do, you just have to want it. And then take one step at a time toward realizing that goal. Anything. Start small. And don’t give up.

If you’re venturing into an area that requires you have experience or special knowledge, go through the motions as if you do, and you’ll soon find that you’ve learned everything you need to in the process. Hence the term, “fake it ‘til you make it.” (Anything that might threaten anyone’s safety is of course not included in this group.) Many people might hold up false barriers to intimidate you from trying things. They might use big terms or fancy insider language to keep others out. If someone tends toward this it’s most likely because they feel insecure and threatened. It’s a defense mechanism and it’s full of air. Don’t be intimidated by it and never be afraid of asking questions. If it makes you feel better, call it out as you ask things, “This might be a dumb question, but—” 99% of the time that question will be in someone else’s mind at the exact same time. What you do by saying things like that is show people that you’re comfortable with yourself and your own intelligence.

If you feel that you have failed or not done a great job at something new, use those experiences as tools to learn more about yourself and grow stronger because of it. There is nothing wasted in a learning experience. It’s your job to see that and to use it to your full advantage. Take notes on what you would change, how you would change it, and retain those in your toolbox for the next time. Don’t wallow in self-pity or waste energy on negative thoughts. That would be the real failure. Make a strong effort to forgive yourself and stop the self-punishing. Keep looking ahead. Know that you will benefit from this experience down the road. When a negative thought enters your mind, stop, redirect. Look forward. Nothing is lost.

To have “failed” or “messed up” means you have learned something that you hope to not repeat. It simply means you tried your hardest with the conditions you were in, and things didn’t come out the way you wanted. Keep your expectations around results, realistic. If you are expecting something super-human or perfect every time, you are setting yourself up for disappointment. On the other hand, when you try something new and succeed, own it. Be proud of yourself. Don’t feel bad about savoring that feeling. There aren’t many times like this in life. You deserve to enjoy it. This is only the beginning.

When you try new things and go through the motions of acting out something previously beyond your reach, you will quickly realize that that thing is so much more doable than you previously assumed. You’ll also find that practicing that kind of bravery will become more natural to you. You’ll find that you are more comfortable outside of your comfort zone. When you present a willingness and desire to try to do something that you might not have a whole lot of experience with, and you’re honest about that, people will help you. They’ll coach and support you. And as long as you try, you’ll come out the end with positive results that you need for future success.

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  1. Thank you so so much for this awesome article. I also needed it.

    Yesterday, at work, a coworker scolded me telling me that I wasn’t doing anything (I had a meeting minutes before, then I went to the restrooms [it lasted longer than usual] and I still hadn’t turned my computer on).
    It really upset me and it made me want to cry. It lasted the entire morning and my colleagues asked me what had happened. I said I was fine but they saw that I wasn’t. However, before going to lunch, another colleague told me that I looked angry. I said I was and I explained to her what had happened. She then found the words to make me feel better and told me I was doing my best and that I shouldn’t pay attention to that kind of remarks.

    So yes, I’m feared of failing, or not working enough. I hope these doubts disappear as time goes by…

  2. I feel this! I just opened an online business, an Etsy shop selling handmade jewelry that also financially benefits abused women in my community. A piece of my heart & soul goes into every necklace or blog post I create. Each time I fail, whether it’s a business relationship gone sour or a week with no sales, it personally hurts. I put myself on the line every day!

    But these experiences teach me patience, that I’m not invincible, and it’s okay to ask for help. I even learned more about how I want to run my business by working with a company that didn’t treat me well. I can choose whom I work with and how I view my life.

    Failure isn’t the end, it’s the beginning of an even better chapter of our stories, if we’re brave enough to learn from it. Thanks for the encouragement and let’s keep getting back on the horse!

    -Megan
    http://newevejewelry.etsy.com

  3. All the previous posts echo what I wanted to share with you; your piece couldn’t have come at a better time. My past 2 years have been very….horrible. The past 6 years have been so very difficult. Where you write to not to waste energy on negative thoughts, to stop, redirect, and look forward is somewhat ironic in that I work w dogs and behavior issues. I teach them that philosophy and yet I am a professional self punisher, even though my work with dogs is all low stress, positive reinforcement. :-) Perhaps having a copy of your piece in all my areas would be of great benefit. Thank you for your wisdom! Namaste.

  4. This article could not have come at a better time. I have been in such a rough place with this kind of stuff and your article really cheered me up. Thank you so much you have helped me more than you know :)

  5. Thank you, you made my monday morning! Right now, this article fits perfect :) one of my most favourite quotes of a movie just came into my mind as I read this: Think about the one thing you like to the most and imagine you can’t failure. And then, do it! :))

  6. I’ll keep this article in my back pocket. Thanks!

  7. THANK YOU! I just graduated from college and I think I’ve been afraid to start applying for jobs because I feel like nobody will hire me, so instead I’ve been bumming around my parents’ house feeling crappy about being so lazy. I’ll be keeping this article in mind and writing some cover letters.

    • That’s awesome Rachel!!!! I firmly believe that the universe will guide you to the proper place for you. Good luck and thank you for the kind words. xoxo

    • Between this awesome post and then you’re awesome comment, I really feel encouraged. I’ve been in your shows and it’s discouraging trying to apply when you’re so afraid no one will hire you when you just finished college. I totally understand. I wish you the best on your job search and I hope I find a job soon too!

  8. The exactly words I needed, thank you!

  9. This is perfect for me, too, Sarah, thank you so much! Have a great week! x

  10. This is very inspiring for me and my friend. We are about to take an exam (board exam). Actually, its my first time and my friend’s 2nd. I haven’t taken the actual exam yet and, I am really afraid of failing. I love everything that is written here! Thank you!