Fun? You call failure fun?
When I decided to make this one of my ‘Aim Higher’ targets for February, I must admit I really couldn’t see where this was coming from. When I fail at something I am always my own worst critic – how could you let that happen, you stupid woman? Were you not paying attention to what you needed to do? I told you to do the research! Pull your finger out next time, lady. Being a total perfectionist is so wearying and one of my most irritating personality traits – I fully recognise that no one else does what they’re asked to do quite as well as I do it myself, and I could always do it better than I do.
There’s absolutely no doubt in my mind that I have failed to do as well as I could. Often. What I find harder to grasp is just where the ‘fun’ lay as part of that process. Perhaps it all depends on the degree of failure? On just how much ‘success’ meant at the time? However, if I think back long enough, and hard enough, I can come up with many times when my many fails have, indeed, been fun.
- I failed at skiing. Catastrophically. There’s no doubt about it, I am total c**p at staying on two feet and descending a mountain in one piece or with any element of grace. The few times I’ve tried, though, have been amongst the biggest laughs of my life – true belly aching, wet yourself, laugh out loud and not care who hears side-splitting moments. Except for that time on Mount Greshner…
- I fail everyday to be the sort of cook I want to be. You know, a ‘make it from scratch in less than 30 minutes wonder woman aka Jamie Oliver’ (OK, so he’s not a woman, but you get my drift), but sometimes (albeit only sometimes) I do rather enjoy the trying
- I failed as a mother. At least I think I did (must remember to ask the kids), because I forgot our children only ‘belong’ to us briefly. But I do know I was, and hopefully am, good enough, and all those years of trying to be Superwoman were what makes the empty nest now so, well, empty
- I failed my driving test. Twice. Can’t remember why. But it was fun retaking it the third time without anyone knowing because I was off work with Chicken Pox – and it was secretly fun knowing I probably infected the examiner at the same time
- I constantly fail to accrue vast sums of money in the bank, but it is certainly fun spending it instead – sorry, kids, I am failing to build your inheritance (note this is a direct cross-reference to the above ‘mum’ failure)
- I have failed, sometimes, to get the job – and this was certainly not much fun at the time. But in hindsight, every time I’ve been unsuccessful has meant the fruits of success are so much sweeter when they come along – and they invariably do
- I have consistently failed to run 5 km without stopping – not just this year, but every year since Year 4 at Lady Verney. It’s odds on that this Epic Fail will continue, but one of the most memorable events of my life almost made this failure fun – Run Melbourne 2014
- I have failed to make this list any longer, but it will be fun mentally adding to it every time I balls up and maybe, one day, using that handy little ‘edit tool’ to do an update
It’s interesting to look back on all these failures – in reality, each time I fail I learn something new about myself – which I’m not sure is true whenever I succeed. So, one of the biggest lessons coming out of ‘failure’ is to remember that in order to be successful at anything you have to be willing to face temporary setbacks. You often learn more from setbacks than you do from winning, because you are forced to evaluate a situation. So evaluate, improve, and then move forward.
Ultimately, though, the biggest lesson has to be that life is incredibly boring if you never try anything new because you are scared of failing. This is where the fun lies. Far better to have a life full of failure, than a life limited by the fear of failure. Which brings me quite neatly back to one of my Happiness Project mantras – ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’.