How to Be a Failure

If I were to ask you what you were most afraid of, maybe you’d tell me something from a common list of phobias: snakes, spiders, tight spaces, heights, flying….all valid fears that affect millions. If you were to ask me the same question? My answer would be failure.

I am so risk-averse it’s not even funny. I’ve driven my husband to near insanity with how long it takes me to make a decision because I just don’t want it to be the wrong one. I don’t want the world to see that I don’t know what I’m doing or that I’ve failed.

This is something I’ve been tackling in therapy. My therapists advice?

Fail. Do it. Be a failure. 

When she said this, I immediately thought, “Why on earth am I paying you? This is not helpful.” But thankfully, she elaborated.

In a lot of tech companies, they’ll have signs up that say things like, “Break things!” or, “Fail fast, and fail forward!” Essentially, when you’re building a piece of software, you can’t succeed until you’ve figured out what DOESN’T work.

While this exact methodology doesn’t work for every field (imagine if you saw the sign, “Break things!” in your doctor’s office), there’s still so much to learn here. Yes, we can get to a point in our life without massive failures. But at some point, the only way to move forward….is to fail.

Think of it this way: if your life were a house, success is the bricks, and failure is the mortar. You can build a structure with just bricks, and it’ll look just fine….but it’s not stable. A tiny gust of wind is going to take it down. When life gets hard (and it will get hard), we’d have nothing to stand on.

On the other hand, mortar is messy. And DEFINITELY cannot be a structure on its own. But, it’s what makes the building strong.

We get so crippled by the idea of getting a little messy that we stay as far away from failure as we possibly can. But failure is what makes our successes actually stick.

So take a risk today. Do something that you’ve been afraid to do but know you need to. Worst case scenario? You succeed in an even bigger way in the future because you’ve learned from your mistakes.

Joy and I talked more about failing and struggling with “Imposter Syndrome.” You can check it out in this week’s episode of the Holy Mess podcast!

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