Surviving Failure Again and Again and Again
Hello Dear Ones:
I’m back again this week with a blog that comes from the wisdom of Ruchi Koval – motivational speaker and blogger at outoftheorthodox.blogspot.com.
She spoke recently about finding your path and the many obstacles we face along our journey.
Where Am I Headed?
As you all know, I have been asking questions about my path all my life. But what is different now that I am past 50 and hopefully wiser?
I feel more determined. Perhaps I feel that time is running out. Or, it’s just a feeling that now is the time.
If not now, then when?
Am I Running Out of Time?
I could say I’ve been successful at many things and that is comforting.
I’ve raised my kids. I’ve worked. I’m now turning onto the corner of “me time.” And this gets scary, because it is always easy to blame so-called obligations for not putting me first and doing what has always been a little spark in my heart that was not allowed to surface.
But what is more honest and what will help me clear the fog that hides answers to my questions about “me time” is an honest exploration of failure.
What We Can Learn from Failure?
Ruchi offered me three ways to rethink success and honor failure.
- Often We Fear Failure More Than We Seek Success
We are, by definition, Ruchi says, failing beings. And being a failing being means becoming a growing being. All the great stories are about people who overcome obstacles and come to a new understanding of themselves. Thomas Edison said: I did not fail 10,000 times. I learned there are 10,000 different ways to do things.
- Don’t Let Other People Define Who You Are
When I was a professor of English (which seems like another life), I wrote academic textbooks. It took about a year to finish a first draft and I would give the package a little kiss and send it off to the publisher. Then, several weeks later a package, just like the one I sent off, would return to me, except that now it was marked up with a red pen and lots of squiggly comments on every page.
Once in a while there would be a compliment and I would smile to myself and say, “Yes, I can write. I am worthy of living after all.”
But much more often, the comments identified problems that must be fixed or at least responded to. Then I said, “I am worthless. I cannot write.”
Typically, I crawled under the blanket making a tent like I’ve seen my kids do and I cried. When I was done crying and eating ice cream and potato chips, I got back to work, finished the book and was pleased and proud to see the finished copy.
The big take-away is that over the years I have had to learn to unhook myself from both praise and criticism from others and look into my own heart to learn what is true.
3. It’s the Journey, Not the Destination
Ruchi Koval quoted a book of Jewish wisdom that says, “According to the effort is the reward.” ( Pirke Avot 5:23). It’s not about the finished product, the success, the money earned. It’s about how I went about the process.
This is still a sticking point for me because my control-freak self is all about the results. But when I stop along the way and notice my path and how I feel, it makes all the difference.
For instance, many bloggers like me obsess about how many subscribers they have. I confess that I fall into that trap more than I’d like to admit.
But I also have to admit that I am really, really happy to be standing here in front of my computer writing this little letter to you. It really makes my heart sing. (I’m kind of weird that way.)
But still, my “other self” says, if you know a friend who you think would like this blog, please send a copy of this piece and sign up at annmerle.com. Oh well, that’s just me!
Love and Gratitude,
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