One of my favorite quotes is:
"If it's both terrifying and amazing, you should definintely pursue it." -Erada
Notice that the quote doesn't say if it's terrifying, amazing, and guaranteed to succeed ... I love this quote because it succintly pairs the terror of new and unknown, alongside the amazement and thrill of the pursuit ... and that's a life well-lived, isn't it?
Four years ago, I hung my shingle and opened my law practice. I resisted the naysayers and went for it. I skipped the pursuit of the coveted "partner" position and instead went straight to becoming my own boss. The risks paid off -I've developed a practice where I serve clients I adore, with whom I share the love of cycling and living healthy, balanced lives. The mistake I made was in not doing it sooner. Friends- stop waiting. Move forward. Put one foot in front of the other.
I firmly believe that Forward-Trajectory-Failure is = progress!
I wish I could say I coined the phrase "failing forward." I do it all.the.time.
I find as I've embraced this approach to life, cycling and generally any new endeavor I take on, I've grown more and more comfortable with the possibility that I may not succeed on my first try. And that's ok. I have found progress, personal growth, and new and exciting opportunities in my failure. I've grown more comfortable with the fact that in certain circumstances, I may be the person in the room who knows the least. It's awkward and uncomfortable, especially for a "type-A" like myself who generally finds comfort in control, predictability and repetition. (I'm 'that girl' who puts her mat in the same place every yoga class).
But I also acknowledge there is no growth potential in predictability. You won't meet new people or discover new places if you don't vary from the path you always travel. Maybe the other side of the yoga room is actually better. I'll never know until I try it...
I'm a firm believer in taking risks and accepting that failure is possible. No matter what, we come out the other side smarter for it. The smaller the "consequences" of our failure, the faster we should go rushing in. Candidly, there really are not many decisions that, if we make them and fail, are not irrevocable. In so realizing, we acknowledge that failure teaches humility. It teaches us how to take ourselves less seriously (humble pie is delicious!). Conversely, it teaches us to be more compassionate towards others who are just embarking on their own (perhaps destined-to-fail) mission in an area in which we've grown immensely comfortable.
I welcome others to failure too. I constantly preach "do it! Try it!" I nudge people past the point of "toeing the water" and give a gently, loving, push into the deep end. That's right I said it: I push. Not because failure loves company, but because I genuinely want others to experience the feeling of freedom that comes with pressing forward, whatever the result. If we try to plan for every possible outcome we'll end up saying "one of these days I'm gonna ..." the rest of our days. Waiting until "you know what you're doing" or "what you're getting in to" means you'll be waiting forever to try certain things. Life's too short!
Statistically speaking, the more you try, the more you fail, the more you are guaranteed to succeed.
Failure gives us such an amazing measuring stick by which to measure how far we've come. Cycling is the perfect example. As a new cyclist we learn lesson after lesson after hard lesson. Crashes, just missing the win, misjudging your competition, overestimating your skills or fitness ... each failure puts a racer one step closer to the coveted win and there are no short cuts. Every racer must put in the time, make the mistakes, fail, and fail again. Ultimately it will culminate in success.
As the experts say, if you have to fail, fail forward, not backward. But as between failing and freezing I choose failing every time. "Hesitation is devestation" a teammate in cycling once told me. So true in life as well. I call it the "analysis paralysis" syndrome. Press forward. Your mistakes are almost all reversible or at least fixable, and chances are the percevied consequences of your failure really aren't as bad as you think. You may lose money, you may look foolish, you may be uncomfortable, it may cost you some time or effort. It's all progress. Your definition of success may even evolve, and perhaps the outcome isn't what you set out to do, but it turns out to be exactly what you needed or intended. Regardless, you will be better than you were. Do it, I dare you.
Recommended reading: Failing Forward