Mostly we don’t like to fail. Kids at school who failed got in trouble, had to repeat the test, got held back, and were shamed by their peers. We often noticed they had qualities we didn’t want: they didn’t regulate themselves well, they acted out, or maybe their clothes or appearance seemed a bit off.
We decided success was good, it got us praise, maybe not TOO much success, but at least not failure. We learned to do what we were good at and avoid places where failure was likely.
And then we got present to adventure. In adventure, failure wasn’t just an option, it was a likely outcome; the risks were high and the results unpredictable. Discovering this thrilled us and yet we were sure what to do. Failure was dangerous and yet dangerous was exciting.
Maybe we chose to avoid the adventure deciding it was for someone else. Or maybe we decided to take the adventure on, but we tried our best to limit the possibility of failure, like bowling with the bumpers up. Or maybe we went for it and had HUGE success or catastrophic failure. There’s two parts of us. There is the part that LOVES the danger of adventure and the part that FEARS the impact of failure. No matter what, we struggled to resolve these two parts.
We spend most of our lives negotiating between these two.
What’s possible from this place is to choose failure, not just as something to put up with, but as something to embrace as we go on adventure. Moreover, we can choose our fear of failure, notice it arise and greet it like an old curmudgeonly grandpa and then invite it inside for tea.
We can see and be with it and learn to find the joy in the adventure even in the moments that are a bit scary.