A new relationship!

I’m starting a new relationship with Failure.

No don’t panic, I’m not ditching the lovely Robert!

These days I don’t spend a lot of time in my car, which is pretty much the only time I have the radio on and hear anything about what’s happening out in the world. But yesterday I was driving over to pick up stuff from the printer, listening to Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour. Anita Rani was talking to Gabrielle Zevin. And she said something about the importance of talking about failure more (her first novel failed), which made me reflect. Failure is as inevitable as death, she said! Woah!

My brain froze for a moment.

Being scared of failing is something that has held me back. It’s become My Fear Story.

Fear Of…Not completing. Being criticised. Being ridiculed. Being judged. Running away. Believing I’m not good enough. All versions of my ‘why I’m not doing it’ inner dialogue. The example that still haunts me: being asked by my art tutor at age 19, Who told you you could draw? which my fear heard as You Can’t Draw.

Why is it that some people can turn this kind of run-in into the push to grow fearless heads and hearts? and some of us respond by getting smaller, staying small or slinking away with a jangling nervous system in freeze or flight? I guess it’s largely to do with how we were helped to deal with life-stuff when we were very little (and I’m not necessarily talking about just huge stuff, but also the everyday small stuff); and how much emotional resilience we accumulated in childhood. How we were helped to re-regulate our nervous system after an upset.

The not-being-good-enough is the roots, of course. Deep roots that I have been unearthing; putting them on the compost to rot down and become fresh growing fodder for my creativity. I didn’t talk about the importance of failure enough, it’s been a Must Avoid thing in my life, instead of an Embrace It and Chase It kind of energy. So now I am embracing it. Loving it to Death.

And yeah I googled for some quippy quotes. The ones I like best are “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work” (Thomas A. Edison), and (my favourite) “Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm” (Winston Churchill).

So here I am stumbling freely forward fearlessly not fearing failure.

If this is success, then I am really good at it.