failure: actually, not the worst

I'm sure you've heard this go-getter question:

What would you do if you knew you could not fail?

This inspires me . . . well, at first, anyway. But then my mind gets ahold of it.

But you will fail, I think. You've taken enough trips around the sun to know that failure is part of the deal.

This is true, friends, and we know it. Failure is part of the deal. 

We are not, as it turns out, omniscient and omnipotent. We take wrong turns, we have bad timing, we make mistakes. 

Unforeseen circumstances impede our way, and we stub our toes on them.

We make messes. Terrible messes.

I say this is not entirely bad news.

flying or falling? thanks to @julianpaul for this extraordinary image

flying or falling? thanks to @julianpaul for this extraordinary image

I've definitely gotten some of my deepest wisdom on the other side of failure. 

I've learned a lot about relationships from failed relationships. I've learned a lot about cooking from failing in the kitchen.

(Come to think of it, most of my cooking fails were for the partners in the failed relationships.)

But listen:

My mis-steps, mis-understandings, messings-up - ALL of them - have been instrumental in helping me grow. 

My failures - maybe even more than my successes - have led me:

to work that I truly love (by failing to finish my dissertation, and following my heart)

to parenting with openness and authenticity (by saying - okay, yelling - the wrong thing, and learning to model vulnerability)

to be much more willing to take chances: professionally, emotionally, creatively (by failing enough that I've realized I'm not so destructible after all)

And to eyeliner that is perfect, like, 95% of the time.

Would you say the same?

I mean, not the eyeliner part, but:

Haven't your failures been essential to your growth?

Haven't they enhanced your humanness?


Each time you have fallen on your ass, haven't you somehow scrapped your way back up?

Aren't you rather impressed with this scrappy side of yourself?

If yes, maybe you agree:

Failing makes us stronger, yet more humble. Wiser, yet more open and curious.

As such, here are the questions I'm asking me and you:

What would you do if you knew that win or lose, succeed or fail, you are good and growing?

What would you do if you knew that every wrong turn you take is essential to you finding your best way forward?

What would you do if you trusted that every mess and mistake holds within it a jewel of wisdom?

Knowing that you will fail, and that you will be not just okay, but in so many ways better:

What do you most deeply want to do?