Transformational Failure

I can be changed by what happens to me. I refuse to be reduced by it.

– Maya Angelou

We often respect a teacher or leader who has “field experience”. We will find our sense of knowing sooner if the person teaching us has allied with our experience. One of the guiding principles of my practice is to put myself through a course before offering it to clients. I’d like to share with you the experience I had while testing and also participating alongside my clients in the Spring Renewal program that was offered for the first time this year.

First, I’d like to acknowledge that the discoveries have been huge! We shined light on every distraction and behavior we became aware of. We worked intimately and compassionately to unwind the patterns. We looked gently upon our very human, very imperfect natures. We aligned and integrated with what we unearthed beneath the places of disconnection; and created new awareness of how we want to live our lives. Perfection was not the goal. As students, knowingly of a lifelong course, the intention was to move in greater ease with our inner selves and the seasons of nature.

By removing the distractions the light had shined on for me (social media, sugar, caffeine, and clutter, for example) I was able to explore more deeply and  thoroughly than ever before. And let me tell you, it’s been wildly uncomfortable! I’m in the muck of a pattern of inconsistency that has been my companion for a long, long time. While I don’t usually quit when things get hard, I do quit when I don’t see quick results. Before choosing a life of sobriety, this pattern played out a million times. I would swear to quit drinking, going on binges or doing drugs, not see or feel my life get immediately better, and back at it I would go.

Getting excited about something new or pulling myself up by the bootstraps has been the name of the game (and by the way, keeps myself very fooled that I’m achieving things of value). When the results don’t come soon enough to keep my mercurial nature engaged, there I stop, stalled out. I have given up on myself over and over and have been blinded and distracted by crumbs and the next shiny object; not even aware of discouragement and pain. I’ve allowed myself to be reduced and play small.

Writing this is not for sympathy or even encouragement; I write this because the day I had the “holy shit, I’m a quitter,” moment, was monumental! I write this because deep down, underneath the despair of giving up again and again, lives a core strength that knows I have an obligation, a charter, a mission. That mission is a beacon and it’s the reason I pick myself up off the floor time and again. Painfully, beautifully, succinctly, the removal of all those distractions and disconnections while teaching a course, allowed for inspiration and transformation to arrive.

I write this because inspiration feels good and comfortable. Transformation does not. The inspiration came as I was looking for ways to inspire others. I dusted off my commitment and motivational “muscles,” by listening and sharing talks and videos from the likes of Will Smith and a mentor, Lisa Nichols.

Transformation showed up as I listened day after day, with clarity and humility. I humbly had to admit that not only have I been consistently inconsistent, I have failed. I have failed myself, my family, my clients and my community at large.

You may want to pause here and notice how that feels in your body and soul. Sometimes, the deepest learning comes, not when we try to escape failure (dust yourself off and try again), but when we sit in it, cry and reflect.

Both Lisa Nichols and Will Smith speak brilliantly of “failing forward.” Reflecting on failing, is wisdom gained.

Lisa relates that self-discovery work allows us to own the greatest parts of ourselves. We get to own the parts that need uplifting and the parts that need a complete overhaul. In learning to fail forward, it’s essential to celebrate both where we’re on point, and where we’re off course.

Certainly, if I had been looking for perfection, I wouldn’t have been able to celebrate my self discovery, and therefore would most likely repeat the old pattern instead of failing forward towards real growth.

About nine days into creating, designing and aligning with a new way of being, I noticed the first seven were fun, exciting, and inspirational; while the last two were anything but! I’ve looked at what I’ve done right and celebrated! I’ve looked at what I can do better and implemented a plan.

My old friend the quitter, however, wants to keep things status quo. She’s kicking up a major fuss as we realize we are terrified of trying again. The stakes seem higher, and wouldn’t it be so much easier to fade into the story of, “I tried, I did my best (lie) and I’m tired?” For sure, but the old way only appears easier. I can attest to this, as I’ve lived it again and again. Some wise angels say that it’s actually the constriction of staying the same that creates the discomfort.

It is time to walk an ever more authentic walk, and leave the trying out of it! It is time to be in action, both in the inner and outer realms. According to the experience of my mentors, coaches and my own, this is the easier route, despite initial appearances.

Lisa states, “Action is the antidote to despair.”  Will Smith, say’s, “Self-discipline equals self-love.” For me, it boils down to determination; to changing the decades-old pattern that I am finally aware of. I have failed forward! I will wrap those scared parts of myself in love and kindness as we keep our eyes on the flame of our mission. I will reach out for inspiration and support and apply radical, consistent action until the time comes to pass the torch or lay the mission to rest. Instead of fading into the twilight of this life, courage is calling me to share spectacular stories; stories that will encourage others, so that they too can rise up to the magnificent person they are becoming.

How do you quit and give up on yourself? How do you play small? Do you turn away from what you want because you don’t want to fail? What if you are more powerful and brilliant than you ever imagined? What would you do if you  knew you couldn’t fail? Let’s discover that together. Please reach out, share and connect. This is a community and we grow through time supporting each other to our greatness. Thank you for being here!

Courage allows the successful person to fail and learn powerful lessons from the failure. So, in the end, it was not failure after all.

– Maya Angelou

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