Failure (ish) – Two Tiny Words Pt. 2

Well, It’s been two weeks now since I “failed” my big test and I must say, I feel just fine. The feedback you gave me from last week’s blog post was invaluable and life giving, to say the least. Thank you for taking the time to thoughtfully respond and, as you will read, for widening my vision. There is something palpable and powerful about vulnerability in the face of a painful fall. It cuts through layers of nicety and ego, getting right down to the core of our insecurity. As scary as it was for me to admit my perceived defeat last week, your compassionate responses shed light on a profound truth I have come to believe more than ever as of late.

…explore reframing failure into a learning experience and ask questions instead of cast judgments on ourselves.

So remember that word curiosity from last week? I want to circle back around to it for reasons a bit different than what I originally had in mind. You see, at first, I thought I would crank out a little two-part blog series on failure and the infinite power we possess if we sit in a posture of curiosity to soften the blow of failure. By that, I thought we could explore reframing failure into a learning experience and ask questions instead of cast judgments on ourselves. The vital signs of this approach are good. I learned that the hard way through many stubborn years of trial and error leading me to the knowledge that self-flagellation is just a big fat time and energy suck.

Unexpectedly, what I have learned through your responses to my last blog post is simply beautiful and goes far deeper than the practice of curiosity or reframing or however you want to spin it. You taught me that ultimately, connection is more important than success. Yes, that’s it! Being truly seen, known, and accepted sans the masks of performance and personality is far more significant than passing a test, landing a promotion, receiving a glowing review, or making the cut. You showed me what I was really seeking from my test performance was love and acceptance, things a computer print out with a number on it would not give me even if I’d passed. You also taught me that our shared human experience is a most impressive force, and one that does not require conjuring. It flows freely into that sacred space carved out by vulnerability. Connection calls us to a higher, broader place to stand on so we don’t rot in a den of shameful isolation.

In essence, I do believe a spirit of childlike curiosity is something to cultivate and cherish in life. Perhaps it allows us to more readily reach out or change courses when we hit a roadblock. I once heard a Seth Godin podcast discussing the topic of failure. He said, in so many brilliant words, something to the effect that the smartest people in the world are not actually the most successful. The most successful people in the world are optimists. They are the people who fall down over and over and keep getting up. They are the people who see failure as an invitation to discover what is true about themselves and their work in that moment. I imagine they are also people who don’t take themselves so flipping seriously. That’s my two cents, Seth.

Again, thank you for showing me just how vital two tiny words can be: me too. Let’s get out there and live bravely this week, honoring the beautiful and constant invitation for connection and presence.