On this Valentine's Day morning, I find myself sitting alone with a cup of coffee. I am looking out towards the mountain view, where my man has headed off to for the weekend, and am overcome with how lucky and loved I truly feel. We don't make a big deal about VDAY, in fact, I am more inclined to push against the cultural norms and expectations society likes to impose on people. I love that Andrew has a passion for flying down the mountain side on skis or on his bike. Today I choose to celebrate the love for passion. We both have passions that do not involve each other, and that creates depth within our relationship.
I had a funny conversation with someone yesterday who had a strong opinion about Andrew "leaving me" on Valentine's day. To them, this was a failure on his part. The comical conversation was a reminder of why I don't spend much time with this person, as well as got me that much more curious about the negative connotation that "failure" carries. That's what I want to dive deeper into.
I find "failure" and "set-backs" to be a fascinating topic to discuss and to hear stories of failure are always engaging. It is a topic that comes up a lot in my coaching, I read about it in books, I see it in the media, and I experience it almost daily. Whether it is the epic and earth shaking kind of failure or just a simple miss of the target - so to speak - failure is a big part of being human. We are imperfect. We make mistakes. We act out of character at times, we get stuck in 'ruts', we create habits that aren't healthy, and we have a knack for blaming others and spreading negativity when we can only look to ourselves as being responsible for the things we don't want in our lives.
Failure can feel like we are going to die, even when there is no physical threat to fear. Rejection, embarrassment, criticism, and self-deprecation, register in your bodily system as physical pain. The expectation of reward met with the negative reaction to a "failure" is felt in your body as a sudden drop in dopamine and serotonin, met with a spike in cortisol (the stress hormone). Your mind's perception of failure being something to avoid, something to be ashamed of, or a sign that your path or project was time wasted, exaggerates your bodily reaction to failure.
Your mindset plays a huge role in your ability to grow yourself into a stable, level-headed, motivated, and successful person overall. Any kind of change in your life will take focused and intentional energy. If you want to change your relationship with failure, you have to change the meaning, focus on the journey, and get your body moving.
Change the Meaning
"Failure" is a way to describe not getting the outcome you desire. The more you desire something, the tougher that failure is to face. But without failure, there is no success. In the book Creativity, Inc., Ed Catmull tells us that one of the guiding principles in Pixar's culture is the mantra "fail fast, fail often". When you recognize failure as a teacher, as an opportunity to edit and relaunch, and as a reminder to stay humble and honest with where you are and what you are creating, failure is not something to fear or avoid. When you commit to the process, you are acknowledging that set-backs and failures are coming along for the ride as well. The desired outcome is the beacon of light at the end of the tunnel, but it is not where time, energy, and focus is directed. The process is the meat and potatoes of the project.
Focus on the Journey
Life is the here and now. It is lived moment to moment in a continuous sequence of NOW, until one day, it ends. We can get so caught up in the fear of failure that we stop ourselves from truly living. Life is the journey. And what feels like it will never end, does end. The moments of embarrassment, the uncomfortable conversations and the uncertainty that arises when we are vulnerable and passionate about our creative process, are the juicy and growth inducing moments to lean into. Life isn't supposed to be easy, but the more we practice being brave, vulnerable, open, receptive, and creative, the more resilient and easy it becomes. We can get used to anything, so why not get used to playing big and enjoying every moment of your Journey while you can.
Get Your Body Moving
In the book Spark, John Ratey goes into detail of one study after another that has proven that daily aerobic exercise is a necessary component to improve and sustain our quality of life. We are built to move. Whether it is 10 minutes of getting your heart rate up or a 1 hour sweat session at the gym, your mind and body need movement to keep balance and achieve health and happiness. Find your rhythm by committing to get a sweat going every day. When you acknowledge that this is for your mind's health and happiness, and not an aesthetic reason of getting your body in shape, you may find more motivation to keep this routine in your life. Follow a video on youtube, get to the gym for a group class, hire a personal trainer, join a run club, or commit with a friend and hold each other accountable. Your body needs to move in order for you to make the changes you want to see in your life.
Take some time today to express gratitude for what you do have in your life. Let go of the expectations society places on you or the comparisons that keep you feeling small. You are unique. You are perfectly imperfect as you are. There is always room for improvement and we can all commit to growth and playing big in our pursuit of creating the life we desire, but first we have to let go of the unnecessary negative emotions and commit fully to the process ahead. Take a few deep breaths, enjoy where you are, and know that your energy attracts more of the same into your life. So get real with how you are showing up, and focus on your impact, your goals, and your work. Life will unfold from there.
Happy Soul Searching xoxo