I had another post in mind for today, but Monday morning I read a friend’s blog post and I knew it was something I had to share. Colin Falconer suggested that every writer should watch the video called The Benefits of Failure. I say everyone should watch this video. For everyone has something, someplace in which they have felt the pain of failure. That pain has given failure a black mark. It’s something most of us avoid, but perhaps we shouldn’t.
Take a short break right now and visit Colin’s website, Looking for Mr Goodstory, read his post and watch the commencement speech called The Benefits of Failure . Go on, I’ll wait.
Interesting speech, yes? Now, no one is encouraging you to go out and deliberately fail. What Ms. Rollins suggests is that we shouldn’t be so afraid of failure that we don’t take risks.
If that Ms. Rollins’ speech hasn’t convinced you that failure can be a good thing, that failure is part of life, read KM Huber’s blog, The Way to Fall Apart. It’s a lovely post and reminds us all that falling apart is necessary for things to come together.
But failing and falling apart are scary. So we look for some way to make it come together. Aren’t we all guilty of sometimes avoiding the possibility of failure by trying to make everything perfect? And wouldn’t you know it, Seth Godin had something to say about Polishing Perfect.
Has this post made you uncomfortable? Talking about, thinking about, much less experiencing failure is uncomfortable. But remind yourself, failure is just one way that didn’t work. Dare to risk failure. You never know what you might discover.
image courtesy of pixabay.com
I’m risking failure with an epic rewrite of an imperfect novel that I can’t let go.
Do you avoid failure at all costs?
Or do you embrace the risk of failure?
I am deathly afraid of heights, mind-killing afraid. I can charge through my fear and do heights, if I have to. But only if I have a solid piece of ground or a solid, secure ladder beneath me. Alas, though I tried to warn my ex a few years back, he insisted we’d have fun visiting one of the local haunted houses.
As with most haunted houses, we waited in line while listening to spooky music. Finally it was our turn. We walked into a dimly lit room set up like a doctor’s examination room. A recorded voice told us a not-very-original story about how the doctor got involved in grisly experiments, the lights flashed then we were in total darkness. My heart rate went up, just a little. After a moment, emergency lights came on revealing a grisly scene that made me, and the other visitors, giggle nervously. A door opened in front of us and we moved forward. The next room, dimly lit, revealed wax figures in the midst of a gruesome crime. One of the wax figures screamed, eliciting my screams as well (Don’t judge. I wasn't the only one).
As we followed twists and turns through the dark hallways filled with fake screams, animated wax figures and real costumed people paid to frighten customers, adrenaline drove my heart rate up more. We turned a corner, down a narrow, dimly lit corridor. Then I stepped onto a swinging bridge. I couldn't see the bottom. There was only a rope 'handrail.' Nothing was solid. How high were we? Someone, probably one of the house's paid characters, began to shake the bridge. I screamed and stopped, holding on for dear life. I could. Not. Move. No amount of coaxing from my ex could loosen my death grip on the rope rails nor motivate my denervated feet. Much to my ex's chagrin (and the other haunted house visitors' ire) I had to have the lights on to move forward. They took me out the 'coward’s door.'
Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little death that brings total oblivion. I must face my fear. Must allow it to pass over me and through me and where it has gone, I must turn the inner eye. Only I will remain. Dune, by Frank Herbert.
We all have fears. Big ones, little ones. Real ones and ones blown way out of proportion. Fear is a signal to prepare to FIGHT or RUN. We'd be foolish not to pay attention to our sense of fear if the house were on fire or a burglar was breaking into the house. But what if fear stops you cold? Is it still helpful?
I had planned for the rest of this post to discuss Bob Mayer's book Write It Forward and how his words about facing fear struck a cord with me. But a series of thunderstorms took out my internet for most of the weekend and kept me off all things electronic. So when the my internet was working again this evening I discovered that fear was in the air. Here are a few things I found.
But the best message I found in my research about fear is in this Youtube video of a little, fourth grade girl who is about to make her first ski jump.
You can feel this little girl's fear at the beginning, but she faced the mind-killer. She was afraid but she knew she didn’t have to be unafraid to do it. Could you feel her triumph after she finished? I love that feeling!
She has inspired me. I'm going after some of my fears, you'll hear more about them in later posts.
I'd love to hear from you. Have you faced your mind-killer fear? What is it keeping you from doing? What is your strategy for beating that fear?