17. Practice Failing

Frost_FeetSeriously. Practice failing.
Go ahead. Make mistakes.
Make mistakes on purpose.
Who knows – what you think of as a “mistake” might turn out to be one of the best decisions of your life.

Learning to fail is learning to risk. It is your declaration of a willingness to really truly to do something, anything, better.

There is great peace in not fearing failure. There is also great potential.

What does it mean to fail? Simply, to fail is to fall short of your goal. It means to arrive somewhere other than your exact destination. Put that way, it really isn’t so scary is it?

Failures are life’s little detours. They take you into interesting places you might never have thought of going. They teach you how resilient you really are. And how committed to your goal.

Failing on purpose puts you in charge. It gives you control over what could be a confusing or awkward situation. By practicing failing, you teach yourself how to avoid failing in the future. And what to do in the event you do.

No pilot gets his license without first learning what to do when an engine fails. Not theoretically, but actually. The student pilot shuts down an engine and feels what it’s like to fly without it. He practices the event, not just once but many times in many configurations, to gain confidence and skill. By doing this, the student learns that in the unlikely event he encounters a failed engine in real life he will know how to respond. It takes away the fear and worry that something MIGHT happen and allows him to focus on – and enjoy – what he is actually doing – flying his plane.

Failing on purpose lifts the cloud of fear and gives you boundless freedom. It prepares you for the “what-if’s”.

You need not start with the worst case scenario. In fact it’s generally best if you don’t. Practice making small mistakes. Step a little off the beaten, i.e., expected, path and see what happens. Notice how each time you intentionally make a tiny error it becomes easier and easier to recover. Notice, too, how your fear of failing begins to lift and your confidence starts to grow.

You might even find that some of those actions you think of as leading to “failure” take you instead into a world of discoveries and joys you never thought to imagine.

What is one little detour you can take? What is one tiny thing you can practice doing “wrong”? What happens when you do?

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