Right before I quit my job, I told a friend I was afraid of failing.
What is failing? She asked in response.
I don't know, I told her. Not making money? Never getting coaching clients? Having to beg for my job back?
Then maybe it's time you reframe failure, she told me.
She went on to tell me that, to her, failure would be me staying in my job. Failure would be being so afraid to take a leap that I miss what God is calling me to do. Failure would be holding more tightly to comfortable than my passion. She encouraged me to reframe failure in my mind because I was only seeing it at surface level.
I recently told you that I've become a bit of a pro at failing since I left Corporate America. Here are a few ways I've failed in the traditional sense recently:
- A major female-oriented organization I was hoping to partner with told me we couldn't because The Letter Project has Christian core values.
- A local, Christian organization I was hoping to partner with told me we couldn't because The Letter Project doesn't align with their mission.
- A podcast I'm dying to be on (and have stalked, just a little bit) has ignored all of my emails (and Tweets) for months.
A few months ago, these rejections would have sent me spiraling like a golden wheel spider running for its life. They would have made me want to quit, feeling hopeless and rejected. They would have made me question if I'm on the right track.
As for today? They hurt a little bit, of course. Rejection always stings. But, with each one, I took a deep breath, reflected on my progress and moved on. With the major female organization, I allowed myself to feel honored to have gotten the meeting at all; I noticed how brave I felt after I pitched my idea. With the local organization, I felt proud to know I'll go back anyway and be unafraid to show my face, even if they don't want to work together. As for the Tweets, I may just keep sending those :)
Each time, I forced myself to remember what my wise friend told me. Failing, in those instances, would have been being scared to take the meeting or too timid to ask for the partnership.
I tell you this not to make you think I am super brave or have it all figured out. I don't.
But, instead, to remind you that, if you like to do everything at 100 percent and have some perfectionistic tendencies: you will be OK if you fail. If criticism sends you reeling and just one person thinking you messed up keeps you awake at night: you will be OK if you fail. If you find yourself obsessing over earning, being the best and pleasing: you will be OK if you fail. If you find yourself still trying to get an A+ on everything, even if you're not being graded: you will be OK if you fail.
And, in fact, you may find that you're better off once you do fail.
Because, when you fail, you break free from the chains of perfectionism. You realize the world continues to spin, even if you mess up. You may even find that the things you learn, the courage you develop and the freedom you feel when you stop earning your worth is far, far more beautiful than any imaginary A+ you could ever earn.