Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Live Deliberately: Facing the Fear of Failure

I spent a lot of my life - far too long if you ask me now - being afraid to do the things I wanted to do. I was afraid that I wouldn't succeed. I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to make a living. I was afraid that I wasn't good enough.

I was afraid to fail. 

Then I learned something.

Failure is not the enemy. In fact, it can be quite the ally.

I know this sounds awfully cliche. Every motivational blog points out that you need to embrace failure to fight your way to the top. The crazy part is that it is all true.

I was worried about being inadequate. I was worried about being average. I was worried that people would laugh at me or judge me when I couldn't do what I said I wanted to do. 

In order to live the life you want you will have to take some risks. The skill lies in assessing those risks and determine what is best for you.

I can't remember a time I didn't want to be a writer. I had notebooks full of short stories, really bad vampire novels, and even worse poetry. I started college as an English major with a creative writing focus but got scared. I changed my major to something even less marketable - Anthropology.

After college I found myself following the path of least resistance. I started in retail then got a job in purchasing and finally landed in temporary staffing where I spent 15 years.

During that time I continued to write. I tried a few avenues to getting things published. I wrote for a small magazine that no longer exists for a little while. I submitted short stories to anthologies. But I was afraid to leave my job behind to do writing full time because what if I failed?

At the same time, Matt was also restless. He wanted to fulfill his dream of building a house by himself. Suddenly we both realized that a tiny house could answer all of our questions for us. If we built a home that didn't rely on conventional utilities and didn't have a mortgage I could feel safer quitting my job and writing full time.

I wouldn't trade the experience for the world, but I have since realized that the tiny house served as a crutch. It helped me gain the courage to try something that I should have done a long time ago. 

It is okay to have something to hold on to in order to feel safe, but don't hold on to the wrong things. A tiny house was a risk in and of itself. It was the right launching pad for me.

You can look at this post like a pep talk. Maybe it is. You can also look at it as a revelation. The more I think how I got to where I today the more insight I gain about how I got here. I think that my experience can be a useful example for others.

So, what are you afraid of trying? How can you face the fear of failure and get started today?

6 comments:

  1. Good stuff. As I'm sure you've found, building and living in a tiny house doesn't "solve everything", but it is a great step towards living with less worries.

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  2. All other fears aside, I have never really experienced fear of failure. I have learnt to many valuable lessons from trying something and failing at it to not try again and again.

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  3. I really appreciate your writing and perspective. I often resonate with what you have to say and love the way you express yourself. :)

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  4. Wow, is this a wake call or what! I am 70 years old, just moved and retire to Costa Rica. For more then a decade I have studied two things how to move to Costa Rica and retire, second how to build myself a small house. So now I am Costa Rica, I have discovered that wood pallets are everywhere and free if not for sale for a very small fee.

    I haven't bothered to say that I have already bought and paid for a small piece of property in 20008 and 2009. It over looks the most beautiful valley in the world and on a clear day, I think I can see all the way to the Pacific Ocean.

    So today, I am on the bus going downtown to meet a friend. We go pass a father and his son with a stack of wood removing nails from certainly looks like pallets and maybe a large packing crate for window glass. I recognize both for what they are immediately, but I ask myself why! Well what I am learning that Costa Rica is small economy where everything you buy or own, you either repair or have repaired. Like the US when I was a kid in the 1950's. But this still tell me the why of the of the stack of obviously recycled wood.

    A few more blocks, it his me. Dad and Son are either going to start to build a new addition on their little house or make much need repairs. That what this country does, it repairs things. Then I think about a crazy, but nice guy I knew in Seattle years ago named Deno the Clown. Dean was the first person I knew seriously into recycling. He had a five year verbal agreement with five or six large window glass companies in Seattle to take away their packing crates. In this back year, his garage, his basement, his third bedroom he had recycle packing crate wood with the nails removed, sanded and prepped for the future. Then in about five years after I first knew Dean, he started to build a 8,000 or 10,000 square foot house for himself and guest with a clown theater on Whidbey Island. Later he told me he never bought a stick of wood for this complex!

    So through Deano, through the bus ride today, through this blog article today, I can see that never having built anything in my life before, being 70 years old thing I am a bit old are not, that I can find recycle resources for my property, I can build myself a house, I just have to take it one step at a time! Thanks for sharing this perspective, I will be back to read this again and again as I develop my plan like you guys did!

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  5. What am I afraid of? I guess it's to really think about what I want to do in life. I have a job that pretty much pays the bills, have good benefits, etc. etc., but it's not me and I feel it's so not me. I want simple in so many parts of my life. I think I'm afraid to actually start thinking of how and to go for it.

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