There are many routes you can take in this world, and many ways to fail. Most people have many failures before they find success. There is also the fear of failure, otherwise known as paralyzing thoughts blocking our process toward real action. How does one deal with failure? How do we keep fighting when people tell us we can’t do something, and worse when we believe them. Some people say fear itself is an acronym standing for False Evidence Appearing Real. This may very well be true. Some people use fear as a great motivator. You know the type. They are often heard saying things like, “Tell me I won’t.” or “Think I’m scared?” They use fear to propel them to often over compensative action. Often times they are too zealous and over-shoot their mark. No matter what type of person you are, fear is not going anywhere, and failure is is in inevitable. Yoga Berra once said, “Baseball is the only thing in the world a man can go 3 for 10 and make the Hall of Fame.” We all strike out at some time, and we all go in and out of buying and selling our fears. The question remains; How do we preserver? How do we survive in a fear driven world filled with jackpots and ditches of failure? Well I’ll tell ya.
If you have not already figured this out on your own, let me be the first to tell you, everybody does not get a trophy once you leave high school. Bill Gates was once quoted, “Think your teachers are tough, wait until you get a boss.” He is right, The demands are high in this world. Stress and pressure mount day after day. Seems like colossal failure is waiting around every turn. Perhaps it is, but my coaches always taught me to play to win, as opposed to playing “not to get beat.” You certainly will never grow and become stronger if your primary strategy is to avoid failure. Instead, I encourage you to embrace failure as apart of your path to success. Make no mistake, I’m not suggesting you seek out failure, but understand that success and failure are a matter of perception. Perception is truth in the eye of the beholder. People will believe what they want to believe. What the mind conceives, it eventually does. Bring on the risk, bring on the pain, and bring on the doubt, the fear, the insecurity that line up like a firing squad to shoot you out of the sky. Funny thing happens when you shoot for the moon. You get there. Then is the solution to overcoming failure acceptance?
Seems like a simple solution to a very common and paralyzing question. But, perhaps the big problems are solved by simple solutions. Why then can’t we all simply apply the practice of acceptance and use our failures and pains as touchtones to growth and success? The why, is the crux of our problem. To accept all things in our lives is to “rollover”, “give up”, or “surrender” Our ego doesn’t like to accept defeat. We are often taught failure is not an option. I agree, but I ask you to look beyond the words of failure not being an option. If we accept our failures as events that shape us, rather than break us down, then we are allowing the pain of failure to grow us to stronger, wiser, men and women. That is inspirational, that is passion, that is what I believe. Accepting the “bad” is not surrendering, it’s getting to know your enemy. Know thy enemy within and conquer all thy know. We get knocked down a peg or two every now and again. This is a lesson in humility, character building, and esteem cleansing. I promise you the next time you experience failure, pain, or negativity an act of acceptance will charge you through the event, rather than sideline you.
I have done much in my relative short life, and I continue to move forward. Sometimes I experience setbacks, negative attention, and frustration. Failure is not an option, so if I feel as though I have failed, I remind myself it’s not over. As Yogi Berra suggested long ago, “It ain’t over, ’til it’s over.” Life is not divided into 4 quarters, 2 halfs, or 18 holes. It’s over when it’s over. Pardon the cliche, but the sun will rise tomorrow. Here is another conception I ditched a few years ago. You have to fight to get what you want. If your back is against the wall you have to fight. Bulldozing your way through life is how you through the pain and frustration of failure. Turns out, there is a better way. Let patients, love, and tolerance be the code. I have found that practicing acceptance in my life is an opportunity for me to show forgiveness, hope, and love. These are the elements that defeat all aggressive behavior. There is an old Cherokee story that goes something like this:
An elder sat with a young one of the tribe.
The question was asked how one becomes a good man.
The elder explained in each person. Man, woman, and child
lives two wolfs.
One wolf is driven by greed, doubt, disbelieve, and dark lonely fear.
The other is driven by faith, honesty, and open-minded generosity.
The elder goes on to explain these two creatures are to do battle
with each other until the end of time.
When asked the question of which wolf ends, the elder replies;
The one you feed.
The story illustrates the idea that you receive back from the world what you put into the world. Remember water seeks it’s on level. If you want to be surrounded by helpful, kind, and generous people then you need to strive to live to the same standards. The realm of failure is as you make it, as I said in the beginning, life has many routes, and you never know which event could catapult you to a new and higher sense of purpose. Pay close attention because when you’re ready to say yes to this way of life. When you decide to risk it all and abandon old habits and life-long believes, that’s just the beginning. From there you will be a whirlwind of events that will shape and change you into a stronger more independent being. Who knows where your life will go, what you’ll accomplish without trying, and why you will suddenly have more confidence to make decisions based on sound experience. That’s the good stuff.
Before closing, I want to revisit the fear to fail. The paralyzing thoughts that hold us down, trapping us from growing into a new freedom and a new happiness. For this, I would like to tell a story about an old man watching squirrels in a park. From the works of Oscar Schisgall:
I looked up and saw a squirrel jump from one high tree to another.
He appeared to be aiming for a limb so far out of reach that the leap looked like suicide. He missed – but landed, safe and unconcerned, on a branch several feet lower. Then he climbed to his goal, and all was well.
An old man sitting on a bench, “Funny, I’ve seen hundreds of ’em jump like that, especially when there are dogs around and they can’t come to the ground. A lot of ’em miss, but I never seen any hurt in trying.” Then he chuckled. “I guess they’ve got to risk it if they don’t want to spend their lives in one tree.”
I thought, “A squirrel takes a chance – have I less nerve than a squirrel?”
Since then, whenever I have to choose between risking a new venture or hanging back, I hear the old man on the park bench saying, “They’ve got to risk it if they don’t want to spend the rest of their lives in one tree.”
So I’ve jumped again and again. And in jumping I’ve learned why the squirrels so often do it: it’s fun.
Remember you only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.(Mae West) Wise words from a wise woman. I am grateful to have taken the risks I have, and I encourage you to also take risks. May acceptance be the answer to all of your problems. Let patients, love and tolerance be your code. Keep your eye on the prize, and keep moving forward. Always4ward. Like I said, Funny thing happens when you shoot for the moon, you get there.