Today I wanted to share the experience I’ve had with failure. I see a growing movement today toward ‘failing is good’ today, which is fantastic. And in order to make this concept a reality we embrace and not just proclaim, I want to talk about what folding a company felt like for me and what happened afterward. Failure isn’t just a word, it is an experience. Let's discuss what that experience means and why it is so vital for our growth as a human being.
I would love to hear how this resonates for you. How do you view and experience failure in your life? Does it hold you back from trying new things, does it mean nothing to you?
I am experimenting with video today!
And coinciding with the theme of this post, recording a video of myself talking into a computer and putting it up online is one of those things that gives me the jeebies.
Nevertheless, I've had this format as an idea in my head for some time, so it is time to give it a go :)
“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart even when it leads you off the well worn path; and that will make all the difference.” - Steve Jobs
This quote is often shared around as an inspiring mantra for those wanting to pursue an big goal, dream or something inside their heart.
I absolutely agree with Steve Jobs as I've seen the dots connect in my own life often astoundingly and without notice as I continue to push, step by step toward work that feels right for me.
Yet I wonder how, in our very linear world that values instant feedback, incessant external stimulation and a desire to always 'know' the answer .. how are we training ourselves to follow this profound guidance?
The approach he is proposing requires patience, mindfulness, a deep connection and trust in our own intuition, and an ability to act and push forward bravely without knowledge that it will all come together.
I know how insanely difficult this is. I've been trying to take these leaps and bold moves, stretching myself further into areas I feel quite uncomfortable with, and often downright frightened to go. In the process I have been forced to re-wire my brain and attitudes over the course of seven years in an effort to learn how to hear myself, trust my gut, lean into discomfort, and to stop asking for the answer to present itself before I can make a move. It is a never-ending and continual process of persistence, grit and an ability to tune out the noise.
I know how much harder it is to do this work because of the prevalent messages of - do it all, now! ... where is the data to back that up? ... how many likes can you get? ... never be disconnected for a moment! ...
How can we embrace this concept in that kind of environment?
It's important to know what you're up against as you seek to do something new, deep or different. We can easily share inspiring quotes and messages, and feel excited about the concept of leaping into our dreams. Then when the excitement fades, we shy away from following through on our hefty goals ... or we second guess ourselves and stop a project because we feel scared of putting ourselves out there so vulnerably.
I know that feeling for sure; and I know that if I choose to slow down and take the big, scary moments one step at a time, I will move through them on to the other side. I've learned to turn down the volume of external guidance in my life and turn up the volume on my inner gut as guidance. And I've gotten cool with moving ahead even when there are no statistics to back me up.
If you're feeling a desire to go the 'connect the dots' route, I offer you a huge, double high five - and go FOR it! As you embark on your journey I urge you to accept that along the way you are going to have to really learn to trust your own voice, tune out the noise, and work through some very uncomfortable feelings of uncertainty and ambiguity .. which do not always feel good. If you understand that feeling scared and uncomfortable is okay, it is part of the process, then you can set yourself up for persisting through the tough moments.
If you choose to take up the challenge of embracing this mindset with a huge bear hug, then you will surely make something valuable happen in your life.
There are moments when I question what I'm doing, when I am in the down cycle of starting something new .. when the feedback isn't coming in, I'm throwing things out and really unsure of how they're landing, and when I'm in the space between making the effort, and having insights and answers.
This is such an uncomfortable place to be. I find myself questioning everything I do in that time. What I really need most to survive those down periods is faith & patience, yet I find my mind spiraling toward doomsday results and uncertainty in what I've chosen to do.
But I hang on.
And then, there is the moment where it wildly turns around. All of a sudden the result produced is more incredible than I could imagine. I can feel that things are working, I am listening to my clients share how meaningful the experience is for them ... and I almost feel bowled over by the wave of heartwarming and incredible happiness.
That is why it's all worth it.
The past week in my Plugged In course we've been doing mindfulness. The wonderful thing about teaching is that it forces me to walk my talk so closely so I am not a hypocrite.
What I've been realizing as I've taken this week quite slow and mindfully, paying very close attention to my body and my energy levels and nourishing myself, is that when I slow down, the 'immensity of work' I typically feel when I'm moving at hyper speed slows down too.
I've noticed that with a slower pace, and a more mindful attitude, I don't feel so overwhelmed with work. I'm still doing the same things, same amount of work, and yet this new mindset enables me perhaps to see just what is essential, what needs to get done - to make very conscious choices instead of automatic ones - and in that the level of work goes down. Perhaps it's because I realize I don't really need to do the extra 800 things I put on my to do list .. or that if I simply do this one hard thing, if I focus all my energy on the big hefty task that must get done rather than distracting myself with a bunch of little random ones, that really only disperse my energy, then I can get it done in a reasonable amount of time.
It blows my mind to watch this happen and it is quite counterintuitive. Going slow can actually mean getting more done. In our world today we have begun to equate constant action with hard work and ultimately success. Typically we pick busy because we feel like we aren't being productive unless we're always doing something.
Yet it doesn't have to be that way. Busy is a choice. If you want to believe that you will be productive with more time and space in your schedule, you can. You must accept that it's a battle against our prevailing culture and the preconceptions that are programmed into our minds .. and still you get to decide.
As soon as you own your influence in the process, the choice is yours.
Lately I've sensing a need for more adventure in my life. Often when I think of that, I think - plan a trip or rent a car and drive out of the city, or take a class and learn something new.
This morning I woke up, and I didn't feel like my typical 'go for a run' or 'do pilates' mindset, so I had a thought form .. maybe I'll go for a bike ride.
Immediately my mind started to tear down the idea - 'you should run, it's better exercise ...' and 'you don't have time for that.' It was odd to have such a reaction to such a simple idea and I decided to just grab my bike and go, in spite of all that. I had a hunch that those voices were there because I had actually chosen something that wasn't my habit.
It was a fantastic morning. The weather was incredible, riding with a breeze felt great, and I stopped halfway through at a nice grassy knoll on Haines Point to meditate for 15 minutes. Absolutely fantastic .. and rejuvenating.
I realized that some of that 'adventure' I wanted was just getting out of my normal routine. Simple adventures can really make a difference, and much of what it takes is doing things, little things, differently than you always do them :)
Founder of Mind Into Matter and lover of coffee, color, and passport stamps.