I was recently presented with the idea that Life is here to serve us; we’re not here to serve it. I think I’ve spent most of my Life living this idea backwards. Having this notion is like now having a new pair of glasses to see Life in a totally different shade…now I wonder how I can fully experience my most ecstatic, realized self by allowing (not expecting) Life to serve me!
I wonder what would happen if we changed our idea about ‘failure’ to simply mean a milestone for having tried something big?
And if we try something big and fall short of the goal, does that really mean we failed? If failure means not having met the goal, then yes it does. But I’d offer that our definition of failure is flawed. Shouldn’t the objective always be to do something bigger than we believe ourselves capable? Isn’t life about stretching ourselves, taking risks, embarking on adventure?
Where did we get this idea that the point in life is to be comfortable? Seeking a comfortable, easy life is analogous to striving for planned complacency–and doing it on purpose!
We’ve been programmed to believe that failure is bad and should be avoided, but what if we strived for failure on purpose? And I don’t mean planning for failure; I mean striving for failure. There’s a difference!
Planning for failure is using this idea as a means of justifying and explaining your failures in some kind of twisted logic where failure becomes the new success. “Well, the point of the exercise was to fail, and there I failed, so I succeeded.” No!
Striving for failure, on the other hand, is deliberately choosing projects or goals that are bigger than you, that feel scary, that are beyond our capability to handle and that have an element of unknown. Of course, when we do this, we are likely to fall short of our goal; but more importantly we will have tried something big. We will have stretched ourselves. We will have expanded our consciousness. And maybe, just maybe in the process of trying something bigger than ourselves, we can make a difference in the lives of people around us–in our families, our communities, villages, towns, cities, etc! ‘Bigger than ourselves’ by definition will have a ripple effect even into the lives of people we don’t know.
It’s like this: If it isn’t scary, it’s not worth doing. If at first you don’t succeed, then you were not challenging yourself enough. No one ever achieves something big by being grandiose. We accomplish big things by being willing to risk failure, by not being afraid to put our heart and soul into something that just might not work, by being willing to try. Trying is not dying; trying is the opposite of hiding (1).
(1) Thanks to Seth Godin for the perspective on trying.
I read this this today in Seth Godin’s book ‘Poke the Box’, which is a term he uses to describe innovating, initiating & starting something new. I thought these words very profound & worthy of sharing.
Sooner or later, many idealists transform themselves into
disheartened realists who mistakenly believe that giving up is the
same thing as being realistic.
When they start out, the idealists believe that doing something is far
better than doing nothing. They understand the system, the process,
the way it’s all set up to work. They want to fix it, change it, or least disturb it.
Over time, these politicians, entrepreneurs, or activists discover that
as they get more leverage, they seem to give up the very thing that got them into this position in the first place. The people arguing on behalf of accepting the status quo are the ones who, years ago, set out to change it.
For so many people, this transformation is preventable.
As disillusionment set in, people stop poking. They find themselves
slowing down, dissuaded or disheartened, so they start to accept the
status quo. The irony is that the act of creating and shipping
remarkable ideas is the very thing that can change the status quo.
Yelling at the cable TV anchor never changes anything. Yell long
enough and you’ll merely end up hoarse.
Click here to read more inside the book.
“Presentation is about the transfer of emotion.” -Seth Godin, Author of “The Purple Cow” and a ton of other books
“Idling or doing nothing is important. Most of us are obsessed with getting things done. We’re afraid to be unproductive. And yet, the big ideas often come to you during your periods of ‘laziness’, during those episodes of ‘wasting time’.” -Brenda Ueland, Author of “If You Want to Write”
“To many business people, design is something you spread on the surface, like icing on a cake. It’s nice, but not mission-critical. That is not design, but rather ‘decoration’. Design starts at the beginning, not at the end; it’s not an afterthought.” -Garr Reynolds, Author or “Presentation Zen”
“It’s going to be a harder road than you thought, and short-cutting, half-assing, and second-guessing will only hurt [you in the end].” -Loren Weisman, Author of “The Artist’s Guide to Success in the Music Business”