Saturday, January 1, 2011

Let's Hear It For Failure

I hope I'm ready to greet the dawn of a new year like these birds on the shore of Sanibel Is., FL  
(My apologies if you received a link to a non-existent post; I had to delete it and start all over when I noticed a large technical error I had made)
We’ve reached the end of the year.  I hope yours was a good one, full of joy and good health.  I’ve never kept a single New Year’s resolution for more than a week.  And the hectic pace of December holidays has never given me much space to reflect on and learn from the year that was ending.  But since I’m never one to say “never,” once again I’m trying to do what I should as the calendar changes (oh, wait . . . I forgot to buy a calendar for next year.  Yikes!)
If I have limited time, though, and I want to engage in some activity of self-improvement should I give those precious hours to looking back or looking forward?  While I certainly will look back at my travels, good times with friends and family, and the loved ones who left us too soon this year, I’ve decided to point myself forward.
And what am I going toward, you might ask?  Well, I’ve decided that this year I am going to consistently move toward FAILURE.  Yes, failure.  But not how I (and probably you) have thought about it.  One of my favorite blogs to check on a daily basis is Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project.  I’ve been reading it for a year, saying to myself “Yes, that’s a good idea,” “Oh, I really should try X,” or “Bingo, that’s exactly what I need.”  Yet I never wholly jumped on the bandwagon of taking steps to make a happier life for myself.  I’ve still let the same niggling things ruin my days.  I still am slave to the same bad habits (Hello, my friend, Procrastination).  I still haven’t made the life changes with a big “L” and a big “C” that I should to make this stage of life (the impetus for my own blog) something new and exciting.
But I’ve been reading Rubin’s book of the same name and was mesmerized by two of her concepts that brought those proverbial light bulb moments.
First, challenge and novelty lead to growth, and growth to happiness.  It seems so simple, and I know I’m happier when I’m growing, but I haven’t been pushing myself toward the challenges of new things.  That’s too hard, I rationalize.  I might fall and it will hurt, my scared little girl on the balance beam in gym class says.  But never trying new things is boring, the grownup me says.
Second, in order to have more success (or more happiness) I need to be willing to accept more failure.  Rubin’s mantra: “It’s fun to fail.  It’s part of being ambitious; it’s part of being creative.  If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing badly.”
So here’s to next year and many failures – failures that will come from challenging myself in writing, in relationships, in home projects, in travels!  Here’s to a year of growth!
And I’ll end this little post with thoughts from a couple of other guys who know a thing or two about failure.

Albert Einstein
Anyone who’s never made a mistake has never tried anything new.

Thomas Edison
I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.

If we did all the things we are capable of, we would literally astound ourselves.

What have been your favorite failures?  What would you like to fail at in the coming year?  Share it here.


I feared failure on my first time kayaking, but managed to navigate the mangrove preserve
and the wide-open waters of Tarpon Bay, Sanibel Is., FL and make it back to shore

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