“One who fears failure limits his activities. Failure is only the opportunity to more intellectually begins again.”
I currently have a burn on my right ankle. It’s from cooking breakfast this morning. No, I am not kidding. I have a real talent for burning myself in the kitchen. In fact, burning myself in the kitchen once saved my life – it’s how I found out that I was a diabetic. I know, I’m all sorts of special. It was right after we got back from our honeymoon, I was making oatmeal, and managed to spill an entire bowl of boiling oatmeal on my stomach. I ended up with severe burns, which ended up in a nurse noticing some other things that weren’t quite right, which resulted in me finding out that I was a severe diabetic, who was on the brink of being in a coma.
Burns are good. I mean, granted they hurt like hell, but for me burning myself on accident a few times has lead to some life changing discoveries. Although, I have to say the burning of my ankle this morning did not teach me anything, except that I need to be careful about splattering things while I cook.
Regardless, I fail a lot, at a lot of things. This used to bother me, A LOT. I have this perfectionism thing in me that drives me insane at times, but slowly I’ve been able to let that go. I’d say going vegan was one big trial and error and lots of failing at first. I can’t tell you how many meals ended up in my husband taking one look and saying “oh how about we go out for dinner” with a smile of course. Every day seemed like a big test, and most days I failed, I would eat something and then check ingredients only to find out that my chewing gum had casein in it (milk protein ) I mean it’s GUM why was gum not vegan? Theses discoveries, be it in the kitchen, or on an ingredient list seemed to be a constant thing at first. But I quickly realized that all of this failing was teaching me a lot of very valuable lessons. When I stopped looking at myself as a failure, and started looking at all my fails as the possibility to discover more; that was when I really started to make progress.
This lesson played out all at the same time in my life. At first when I went vegan I felt like a HUGE failure at life. How did I miss all of the facts? How did I go so long blissfully ignoring science and all of the warning signs regarding the food industry. Going vegan itself felt like one giant fail in my life, I tried SO many things before, I thought that I was such an informed person and then BAM it hit me. The more I read the more I became angry with myself that I somehow missed this giant huge well researched truth, and I was angry with myself that I spent so many years suffering through diabetes and obesity when a simple and very easy answer was right there in the produce aisle. The more I researched the more it all clicked, why did I ever think the way I was eating was good? Why did I think there was such a thing as a “good” way to slaughter animals and use animals as a food source, why did I think I was designed to eat meat? Needless to say I had a bit of a crisis when I went vegan. I had to accept that I had failed at a lot of things, and failing is not something I like to do.
At the same time I was really working on my photography. I have 2 memory cards that hold a total of 800 raw files (that’s a lot). Each photo shoot I take AT LEAST 800 photos. And I keep about 120 of them, sometimes less. Failing is part of being a photographer, I think it was Ansel Adams who said for every 10,000 photos you take you might get 100 that actually turn out good. That is 9,900 photos that fail! I took on the failing in photography thing and applied it to my health. I may have tried 10,000 different things, but it started to become just fine that I failed 9,900 of those times.
And finally, the gym. I love working out now. I became a total gym rat, and was at the gym (*when we were not traveling full time) at least 4 hours per day. But I did not start out that way. I started out terrified, and constantly failing. I fell off many an exercise ball, to land on my ass MANY times. I dropped weights on my toes, I sprained ankles and knees, I caught my arm in a weight machine, I mean it was endless. And then my trainer told me something that changed my life.
“Failure is a necessity, you MUST fail to move forward and you must work until the point of failure”
The thing with being in the gym is that even the really healthy, fit athletes worked hard to fail every single day. They exhausted their muscles to the point of failure, they ran until their legs failed, they failed over and over, and would go at it again the next day. They failed like champs. They learned over and over and trained their bodies only through failing. I learned that if I wasn’t failing on a daily basis I wasn’t working as hard as I could. The more I pushed through the stronger I got, the fail line moved more and more, and those failures became something wonderful and good in my life.
Give each day your best, and stop being afraid to fail. In fact, look for ways to fail. Go out and run for 5 miles, only make it 2 when your legs completely feel like mush and you literally can’t take another step… GOOD FAIL. Make a huge vegan meal, even if it turns out horrible and you find out that you can not add a cup of egg replacer to muffin mix with out a disaster happening (not that I would know). Try a different vegetable or fruit and be okay with not having a clue how to cook bok choy at first. Be okay with failing, and learn from the fails.
But most importantly, know that all that you are learning does not that mean that up till this point you have failed at life. You could not be here, right now, discovering all of this with out a lot of fails in the past.
Today, figure out what it is you are afraid to fail at, or what you are afraid to find out that you have failed at. Learn to be okay with failure, learn to move forward and use it for you not against you. Look forward to ways you can fail! Fail like a champ and your life will change.
*TIP OF THE DAY* Put aside some money and be okay with failing on some new food experiments. Be okay with losing 100 dollars or so on Vegan FAIL – think of ALL of the other things you would spend money on to get healthy, and remember that going vegan could very well save you more than just money in the end.
So.. what have you learned from the things you have failed at?