I thought I’d written a great post last week. I didn’t publish it though, something held me back. I wrote about how some people love to see you fail. I’m going to copy it into this post because it tells a story.
The story is about being your own worst enemy. It’s about the little chip that sits on your shoulder, or that little voice inside your head that feeds self-doubt. That little devil bouncing around in front of your eyes, taunting you with its cruel cackle. That part of you that pretends it’s not you at all, just everyone else.
I wrote the post because I’m about to start the biggest journey of my life, in fact, I’ve already started. I’ve made some big decisions, I’ve taken some actions and I have a plan. But I still have that part of me lurking in the background – and in my blog posts, that’s waiting for it all to go wrong. And it will of course, nothing in life ever runs smoothly and certainly not to plan. But that’s the beauty. A life without challenges and lessons wouldn’t be a life at all, just an existence.
Since I wrote that post, I’ve told more people about my plan. Actually, I’ve told them about my dreams. That’s an incredibly difficult thing to do, you feel vulnerable and run the risk of hearing things you don’t want to. That’s what I’ve always thought anyway. In reality, I’ve been overwhelmed by the support people have shown me and the faith they have that I’ll succeed.
It seems the only person waiting for me to fail, is me.
I’ve learnt a huge lesson this week, my first big one on the journey to my new way of life. I hope I can keep it at the front of my mind and in my heart, as I push forward. I also hope that new lessons keep revealing themselves, because then the only thing I can do is succeed. Failure is always an option, it just depends which way you look at it.
Failure is not an option?
I’m changing my life. I’m leaving my job and starting my own business. It’s been a while coming, but the time to make the break and jump off the precipice has finally arrived.
I’ve just started to tell people and this is interesting. Not only does it make it very real, it also make you very aware of how others view such a risk. Some are genuinely happy for you, that you’re following your dreams and remembering why you wanted to work in the first place. Some are really practical, asking how you will pay your bills and what are your back-up plans and exit strategies. Some are completely indifferent, it doesn’t affect them or what they’re trying to do and that’s fair enough. But there is a teeny weeny percentage of people that are a tiny bit excited – to see you fail.
Yes I said it. There are real people out there who love a bit of failure, as long as it’s not their own. They love to use it to make themselves feel good; re-assure themselves that all is not lost for them after all as they revel in the dying spark in your eyes when you talk about how things are going. Let themselves fill up with gratification when they seek out a snippet of failure gossip, knowing that they did the ‘right thing’ by not following their own dreams or pushing down deeper that little flicker of ‘what if…’ that they’ve ignored for years.
I meet these people all the time. They come in all shapes and sizes and they’re not all nasties! They can surprise you, but often not. Because often they are people just like you. I know, I’ve been one.
I’m one of five sisters, I’ve felt those feelings. When the school exam results came out, when the first one got married, when someone got a nice car or a nice jacket! It’s all very shallow but it’s helped me to face my envy head on. Because envy is exactly what it is. An unanswered question of ‘what if?’, a dissatisfaction with where your own life is and where it’s heading. And above all, the reluctance to change it.
The interesting thing out of all this is, when you actually follow your dreams, those things don’t matter anymore. You don’t want them, need them and you certainly don’t envy them. It’s a bitter emotion that is best dealt with the moment it bubbles in the pit of your stomach. It’s there to teach us how to listen to ourselves and that’s exactly what I’m trying to do.
So back to failure. Is it an option? Of course it is. How many times did Edison fail with the lightbulb? All of our greatest innovations were born out of failure. Just like envy teaches you to follow your heart, failure teaches you how to do something better.
Failure is an essential ingredient for success. And success and failure sometimes equate to the same thing. I felt like I had failed for years, because I hadn’t made the difference at work that I wanted to. But that has taught me many lessons about how not to do things, about myself and about developing my strengths instead of concentrating on developing my weaknesses. Even accepting my weaknesses, which is not an easy thing to do. So my ‘failure’ has become my success.
I’m hoping that it will be just that – a success. But I have learnt enough about failure to understand that I can’t build a successful business without more of it. It’s not going to be easy, especially as I have an acute fear of it, but I’m going to do it anyway.
Failure is an option and a valid one at that. We learn as much from our mistakes as our achievements. Some would say we learn more, because we have a terrible habit of analysing and picking to pieces why something went wrong. It just did. Sometimes there’s not a reason, just a lesson.
So failure-envy lovers, I might fail, but that will only make me stronger. When you’re enjoying that sneaky feeling of ‘I told you so’, remember that I told you so too!
If you have any stories about how to overcome self-doubt or following your dreams, let me know! You can follow me on Twitter at @lifeinzuri and learn more about my business ideas at my blog communication for our generation.