What Would You Do if You Were Allowed to Fail?

It’s that time of year when people start thinking about the year ahead. What are we going to do? We used to call these things New Year’s resolutions. Maybe some of you still do. For the last several years I’ve been, instead, picking a word. A theme for the year, if you will.

For the year 2021, I chose the word FAILURE. I didn’t pick it secretly, and a few people responded with a head cocked to the side and a pitying frown that said, “Ohhh…” But it wasn’t a dark word to feel sympathetic about. For much of my life, fear of failure stopped me from doing and trying things I wanted to do and try. This was my way of saying, “ENOUGH!”

Sure, I could’ve picked a rosier word like empowered or action. But I wanted proof that I was doing and trying enough. And I wanted to get comfortable falling down and picking myself back up.

In many ways, I’ve been wildly successful in my failure over the last year. I’ve put a lot of programming out into the world – classes, workshops and private offerings. More than once, nobody signed up. I’ve posted things on social media that no more than three people saw. I’ve reached out to a lot of people, practitioners, groups and businesses. Often, I hear nothing back. Or someone will tell me they’re interested in a thing, and then they’ll change their mind. I’ll make what feels like a really promising connection and then nothing will come of it. I didn’t come close to reaching the business goals I set for myself at the beginning of the year. I have failed A LOT.

It’s not easy. But is it easier?

No, not really. Ha! I still feel disappointed and sad and discouraged and frustrated when things don’t go the way I dream and wish they would.

Isn’t that the nature of training though? The long run always feels long. The last mile never feels easy. This week’s training load doesn’t look especially significant compared to last week’s. The gains build so slowly they’re almost imperceptible. But then one day you pause and realize you registered for a 16 mile trail race without giving it much thought. You hear yourself saying things like, “Half marathons just don’t excite me anymore. I’d like to run a 50 mile trail race one day.”

This is where I’m at, friends. I’m doing things and showing up in ways I never would’ve considered just a couple years ago. I’m failing all the time and I can’t see around the corner. But when I look over my shoulder, I’m amazed at how far I’ve come.

A popular question I’ve heard asked is, “What would you do if you knew you wouldn’t fail?” I’d like to put a bit of a spin on it. As you head into the new year, consider this. What would you do if you were allowed to fail? If you knew that when you failed you would remain the beautiful human that you are and everyone would still love you times infinity…

What would you do?

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