What Would You Do If You Couldn't Fail?
By Karen Ballum on October 10, 2012
Brene Brown's Daring Greatly made me think a lot about failure. When we make ourselves vulnerable we open ourselves to a lot of things, some good and some positive. One of the things that we make possible when we do this is something many people, myself included, fear -- failure. When we make ourselves vulnerable we risk failure and that is a heady, wonderful, terrifying thing.
For a long time I really had no idea how to fail. I was one of those kids that was just simply good at school. I learned how to read young and to this day it's rare to see me without a book somewhere within reach. In school I really only had two problems. One was boredom, the other was gym class. Without being bad at gym, I might not have learned how to embrace failure.
My grades in gym class really weren't bad but they were usually among the worst grades I had. They could have been worse. Luckily for me, my gym teachers were a good group who generally recognized that not every student was going to excel at sports and they rewarded effort. Despite knowing that I wasn't very good, I think I tried out for just about every team sport. I only made the team once. The failure to do so was, rather shockingly, not so painful as I thought it would be.
I am glad I made the team once, even though I still wasn't very good and was absolutely one of the worst players. I would be lying if I said I hadn't wanted wanted to make some of those school teams and I think, had I put in more pre-season effort, I might have succeeded at a few more of them. Maybe. I also knew, after the first few attempts, that I likely wasn't going to succeed. I kept trying anyway because the trying? That was the important part.
Brene Brown asks us what would we do if we could not fail. I'm not sure. Maybe I'd run a marathon. Maybe I'd take that dance class that I'm so scared to take. Maybe I'd write more about the things I've thought about writing about instead of just thinking about writing them. Maybe I'd start that short story that has been bouncing around in my brain for the past six months. I am more inclined to think that it's sheer laziness holding me back on many of those fronts, rather than the fear of failure but I'm not sure. I might be lying to myself. But I know this -- I've never regretted trying and failing as much as not trying at all.
What would you do if you knew you would not fail? What would you do if you knew you were going to fail anyway?
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