When Things Go Sideways
I was going to call this post “When Things Go Wrong,” but I didn’t want to add any more power to “wrong” than it already gets from us!
And honestly, I’m finding “wrong” harder and harder to believe in as time goes on.
This topic is on my mind, though, after reading Laura’s brilliantly honest post on “Failing Wildly” where she shares her fear and disappointment in not filling up a new program she created.
We’ve all been there, right?
Whether it’s that our date didn’t call back, we didn’t get the job offer, or the crackerjack investment goes bust … we’ve all had those experiences where we feel like a big fat failure.
… what if …
… it wasn’t a failure?
What if … whatever we’re looking at … isn’t really something gone wrong? But instead is a perfect unfolding of our path, taking us exactly where we most want to be?
If that were the case, we’d look at those “failures” quite a bit differently.
Instead they wouldn’t be mistakes or mishaps or disasters or failures; rather they would be much more neutral. They might even be interesting; they might pique our curiousity rather than trigger our angst. In fact, if we really believed they weren’t failures, we might even appreciate where they steer us, huh?
I say this because the more time I have to look back on my own “failures,” the more I realize they aren’t. They weren’t. They couldn’t be!
That divorce was just what we both needed. Getting fired before I even showed up for the record store job – turns out that was perfect, too. And how much less would I have learned had I not struggled with my crackhead neighbor? (I officially use that a term of endearment now.)
Martha Beck teaches a technique where you look at something fabulous in your life (present or past), and trace it back to each of the key turning points that allowed it to come to fruition. She asks you to follow the success backward until you get to something “awful” – a negative experience of some sort.
You don’t have to trace back too many successes to a “failure” to realize that those “failures” are anything but. (Reminds me of this quote from Soichiro Honda: “Success is 99% failure.”)
Now, this doesn’t mean I’m at peace with every thing that seems to not be going my way. (I call it “going sideways” on me.)
But this personal perspective does allow me to find some wiggle room so I don’t get locked down on the “failure” vibe. The easier and lighter and more appreciative we can be of these events, the quicker we find our way to life’s satisfactions and fullfilments.
So last week as one in three of my prospective customers couldn’t buy a copy of Art of Self Love, I can now ask myself, “What if that weren’t a failure?” Or I can consider, “How might that be perfect?” “What’s the gift in it?”
The answers to those questions could fill up a whole ‘nuther post!
My point being, please ease up on yourself. You’re not doing anything wrong; you’re not screwing up. That’s impossible.
You’re on your perfectly unfolding path and can never step off of it. That’s the beauty of our setup here.
Having said all that, I know there are lots of other helpful and valuable perspectives on “failure” and I’d love you to share them here! What works for you in re-thinking this potentially charged topic?