Eat More. Do Less.

Why You Deserve To Fail

Failing sucks. Raise your hand if you plan to fail at something today. Consciously or unconsciously, you probably go out of your way to avoid failure. Somewhere in our development we learned that it’s a bad thing. Forget everything you know and let’s find out why that’s a blatant lie.

Flickr image by Celestine Chua

Flickr image by Celestine Chua

Fear of Failure

Fear is the biggest reason we avoid failure, which isn’t always a bad thing. Fear tells me not to walk a tightrope across the Grand Canyon. That’s a rational fear because the consequences of failure are significant, whereas the payoff is negligible. Fear becomes a bad thing when we allow it to hold us back from trying things that we’re interested in.

Maybe your dream is to be a writer but you’re afraid people won’t like your work, or worse, criticize you. Guess what? You’re right, a lot won’t like your stuff at all. But you aren’t writing for them. Write for yourself and the heck with anyone else. If you want to do it, go for it. If you fail, so what? And in the process you’ll likely find as many or more people that connect and relate to you. That is your audience.

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Failure Is Important

Failure is the vehicle that provides the opportunity for growth. You’ll never exceed your limits if you never push up against them.

Last week we were trying to find our heaviest two rep set. My goal was to keep adding weight until I failed. That’s when I’d know my limit. With that information I can create a plan to get better and find a new limit. Then the process repeats as I improve. Success is found where your previous limitations are no longer barriers, but stepping stones.

Failure is Freeing

Failure can be liberating. There are things I’d like to try, but I’ve been too afraid in the past. I’ve signed up for the Spartan Race in Dallas in a few months. I’ve thought about doing this before, but I backed out before registering. While I am still nervous about it, I am registered and committed.

I’ve never been athletic or physically competitive in my life, and I am certainly not a runner (I hated it even as a kid). Now I’ll be running almost 4 miles over, under, and through unknown obstacles which scares the crap out of me. That’s exactly why I’m doing it.

At the least, I’m going to be better for having made the effort. With over four months before the race, I have plenty of time to focus my training. It’s something I think about every time we get to the conditioning portion of a workout. “Push! You have to haul your fat, slow self 3+ miles in the heat, get ready!” I may fail and have to walk the last half, and I’ll definitely look like an out-of-shape noob, but finish or not, come June I’ll never again ask myself, “What if?” when it comes to this race.

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Failure Is An Adventure

One of the most nerve racking things I did last year was step into West Little Rock Crossfit in Little Rock, Arkansas. I was only about 7 months into Crossfit and felt like a major beginner. In the comfort of my own gym, people know what I can and can’t do. They’d seen the changes I had made and understood where I was coming from. In a foreign box, there was none of that. And I knew I’d be in worse shape than anyone there.

But I went. The coach was great, and the people were welcoming. Then I saw the strength workout was overhead squats, one of my biggest weaknesses. I managed to get in some decent reps (or so I thought) before the coach came by and gave me a few pointers on how to hold my elbows and knees. The bar instantly felt forty percent lighter. It was awesome. And it would have never happened if I stayed in my comfort zone and worked out at the hotel.

You might fail. But you’ll certainly miss countless opportunities to learn new things, see new places, and meet new people if you embrace comfort or let fear script your life. Be smart, but take chances. That’s where excitement, growth, and success live.

Your Next Step

Think about the things you’d like to do or accomplish. Write them down and then pick one. Think about why you’ve never done it. List the benefits of following through. Set your goals and create a plan of attack. Ask for help. Find someone to hold you accountable if the goal dictates it. Then erase the “what if”.

Give me one thing you’d like to accomplish but have been to afraid to try.