Last Saturday, I posted about giving yourself permission to rest. There are a lot of kinds of permission that we often feel we need, so I’m going to be giving you permission on Saturdays during the blog challenge. This week’s theme, as you’ve no doubt noticed, is “permission to fail.”
I mentioned last week that we seem to think that we need to run 24/7, like the proverbial well-oiled machine, in order to be worthy of our existence in Western society. Employers, family, and friends expect so much of us that we all collectively forget that we need to stop to recharge.
Well, Western society clearly needs a serious reality check, because we’re also never allowed to fail. You may have noticed this. If you haven’t, you must be visiting from some lucky part of the world not plagued with unrealistic expectations of the human being, and I’m jealous.
The rest of us…we’re not allowed to fail. We have to be little success machines. Operative word there: machines. It’s not natural for us not to fall flat on our faces. And it often isn’t good for us; in fact, it can stop your next project dead in its tracks.
Fall Down Seven Times, Get Up Eight
Think back to when you were a kid and got your first bike. Remember how long it took you to learn to ride it. Specifically, I want you to remember the number of times you fell. The scrapes that led you crying back into the house for a visit with Dr. Mom. The fear you may have felt when you were encouraged to get back on and try again.
None of that’s fun, right? I doubt that any of us would want to do it again. But you did it, and not only did you survive, you learned to ride a bike. You also learned balance and improved your coordination. Not a bad reward for some scraped knees and bruised pride.
Later, you probably went through a similar process when you learned to drive (especially if you drive stick, which I am convinced can only be learned by screwing up over and over again), started your first job, bought your first house, became a parent… There’s a pattern here!
Some things in life have to be learned through failure. Some involve failing multiple times. That painting you’re working on may not come together until the sixth or seventh time—and that’s okay, because you’ll have learned something along the way. (And some organizations are finally cluing in that failure is a really good thing, because if you’re not failing, you’re not trying.)
I hereby give you permission to fall flat on your face, and the courage to get right back up and try again. It’s the only way you’ll get where you want to be.