“Failing means you’re playing.” Translation: It’s better to be doing badly than not taking part.
In Scotland there’s an old fashioned saying “Failing means you’re playing”.
Growing up in Scotland I used to hear adults use this phrase time and time again. I translated and internalized it to mean that if I am failing, I am really not serious, notfocused, not successful and most certainly not doing my best.
Fast forward a lot of living, travelling and fitting into countless life situations in seven countries and four continents. I realized when I saw this written this morning that suddenly a corner has been turned and this quote has taken on a completely different meaning.
This clearly didn’t happen overnight; I have no clue about the moment when this awareness happened. When I attempt something and fail I have developed the tendency to look at it as an attempt, or a learning or a step in the direction I am actively choosing to go.
Do I still look around to see if anyone noticed my failure? – oh yes. Do I check myself to see what I am noticing? – oh yes. Am I perfect at this? – oh definitely not.
Like a child who takes that first step and falls down, it is critical to get up again and put energy and momentum into taking the next step.
I have had a few Expat examples of failing in the transportation department, driving on a freeway in Yokohama, Japan when suddenly the English turns to Kanji and I found myself completely lost; or picking the wrong pipeline road to follow in Saudi desert and getting stuck; or getting on the train going the opposite direction in France; and even today being slow and confused at the underground booths in London while the crowds attempt to move my dithering self forward.
Learning to laugh at ourselves in failure, and congratulate ourselves for stepping out and giving it a good try is key.
If you are failing it means:
- a) you are on the playing field;
- b) you are participating;
- c) you are risking, stretching and growing;
- d) you are willing to experiment;
Congratulations, celebrations – it’s most definitely party time!!! Woohoo in all directions. Yes, I am most definitely suggesting we fail a lot – preferably in small ways – then celebrate.
When is the best time to fail? I think it needs to be a daily practice. A few years ago I learned about the principle called “failing forward fast” which essentially means playing full out, with no holds barred and being willing to speed up the failure process. All this nonsense about celebrating failure seemed completely counter-intuitive when I was so desperately looking to succeed by pushing forward with eagerness. Over time, by taking those baby steps we develop mastery. Being willing to fail forward time and time again naturally moves us in the direction of mastery.
Rx – HOW to Move from Failure to Fearlessness
Release baggage in the form of:
- a)procrastination – there’s no place for it when you are risking and playing full out
- b)looking good – ending up with egg on your face, and looking silly now become ideas to be welcomed
- c)taking action – any action, sometimes taking any small, silly action can break the log-jam and move the process forward.
Here’s to your success.