“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.”
John F Kennedy.
This is a picture of me with Robert Winn, founder of Spirit in Motion and creator of the Soul Breathing process and workshops. I spent this past weekend with him hosting his Soul Breathing Intensive in Berkeley, CA – and yes, it was intense! In a very, VERY good way. To sum it up, I would say we expanded our capacity for experiencing life – especially on the emotional and physical levels – opening areas we had closed down, and opening areas we didn’t even know we had.
I was impressed with the skill Robert demonstrated in his ability to facilitate this experience in me and the participants, and it brought to mind what I read in this month’s Spirituality & Health magazine about being with a good teacher. Encounters with a good teacher should be: humbling, rather than humiliating; liberating, rather than enslaving; honoring differences, rather than demanding conformity; and more about the truth, rather than the teacher.
In addition to these characteristics, one of my litmus tests for a great teacher is his or her willingness to share “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.” It’s true – the truth WILL set you free! This is about authenticity and transparency. It demonstrates courage, trust, and a well-grounded understanding and respect for the process of becoming FULLY human, FULLY expressed, and FULLY free in one’s unique life path. If you look into the life path of any now powerful human being, you will see trials and tribulations, you will see a learning curve, you will see “failure.” The good teachers admit this, others hide it.
Robert freely admits and talks about how he was emotionally retarded, completely disconnected from his emotional and physical body. How he suffered a divorce that was devastating. And all the other challenges on his path of becoming a masterful breath worker.
What is the nature of failure on one’s path. And how do we learn to appreciate the age old quote: “Fall down seven times, get up eight?”
Success is series of failures,
but nobody wants to believe this,
experience this, or talk about this.
We seem to think if we ignore this “fact of life” it will somehow go away, or “it just won’t happen to me.” I listen very carefully to successful people as they talk about their path to success and I haven’t heard a single person say they had no challenges or failures. However, almost all of them barely mention these experiences in their lives and very quickly gloss over their “challenges, frustrations, and failures” on their path and go right to the “good part” of success they are now experiencing. Why do they do this? Because no one wants to focus on and hear about the failures – people just want to hear about the success. No one wants to hear that they themselves may have to “fail” before they experience success. Do you? I don’t. But I’d rather hear the truth than be spoon fed some fantasy. Because of the unpopularity of “challenge, frustration, and failure,” these critical success elements get minimized and underappreciated as the MAJOR, CRITICAL and KEY stepping stones to success they actually are!
Due to our schooling and years of indoctrination we have an incredibly low tolerance for mistakes. As school children we learned that mistakes are bad and that getting a 100% on the test is good. If a context wherein mistakes are viewed as opportunities for learning is missing, they are represented as failures. Our education system taught us to memorize and then regurgitate facts onto a test. Perhaps as a measurement of our ability to memorize, this would not be so bad. But in the ever-changing real world, where memorized facts rarely produce the result you are looking for, this type of learning is not very effective. The REAL process of accomplishing anything will involve trial and error, with mistakes along the path being very common.
The classic example of this is inventor Thomas Edison. Depending on which source you look at, it took him somewhere around 1,000 attempts to finally invent the light bulb (which remains relatively unchanged to this day!). When asked by a reporter why he failed so many times, he replied (and I’m paraphrasing here) “I never failed, each trial taught me how not to make it and brought me one step closer to success.” Brilliant!
I discovered another great example of this in the bonus materials on the DVD of the Academy Award winning movie A Beautiful Mind. In the segment on “The Making of the Movie A Beautiful Mind” the writer discusses how he literally re-wrote a scene 75 times! Each re-write had fewer and fewer words, until he finally nailed it. The scene, only seconds in duration, moves me to tears each time I watch it, but you would never know the extraordinary amount of trial and error that went on behind its creation.
Now look at these two examples. Notice these are both successful people; one as an inventor the other as a writer. They know what they are doing! They are experienced in the fields they are working in, and their path to success was laden with “failed” attempts. Consider that when creating or engaging something new, THIS is the mark of a true professional. He or she “learns from each attempt” (what is and is not working) and subsequently makes adjustments and tries again. In this context you are not experiencing failure, rather you are experiencing a learning process.
One of my favorite trainers is T. Harv Eker (founder of Peak Potentials Training and best selling author of Secrets of the Millionaire Mind). He says he failed at something like 17 different businesses before he found his niche and became a millionaire. He is known for saying “Every master was once a disaster.” This very clearly points out the learning process that all, eventually masterful, people go through. He also says things like “He who makes the most mistakes fastest wins,” “Fail forward fast,” and “Correct and continue.” All of these statements point toward the inevitable process of learning we will all experience as we engage our life path and passions.
Now, I can write about this with some authority because I have had ample opportunity to “Correct and continue” and to “engage my learning processes.” I’ve experienced numerous “failures” along my life path and to be honest, at the time, they did feel like failures. It really comes down to understanding and perspective, and these we only gain over time. Today, I can see how all of these experiences have contributed to my life path and have created who I am. Here is list of some of my “failures” and past learning opportunities: internet dot com start-up, network marketing, real estate investments, stock market investments, transformational business leadership, small business purchases, small business creation, author (yes, I engaged the writing path several times), life-coach, relationships & engagement, to name a few.
Human beings love the excitement of varied and challenging experiences; few of us would be satisfied with a boring, simple life that involves none of the pain involved in growing. We may think that what we want is to avoid challenges, pain, and suffering, but what we actually want is the POWER TO BE WITH whatever may come—including great challenge, pain, and suffering. Take a look for yourself right now. What do you REALLY want—no pain, suffering, or challenge? Or the power to be with whatever may come? Connect with your heart and look deeply—which position resonates as the more powerful place to be? What resonates as a life well lived? What resonates more as the truth of the path rather than a hopeful fantasy? I think if you allow yourself to look deeply, what you’ll discover i s that what we want is to be the container within which these experiences can be held, to be big enough to allow and experience them, without shrinking away. It’s normal to avoid painful experiences and to wish them out of our lives, but the larger opportunity – and dare I say it, the reality of the path – is to embrace and allow, so that when they do show up (and they will), you can have the experience, rather than it having you. This is true freedom, and with true freedom comes true power to create.
Your Major Good Mojo Assignment:
List out all your “failures” – every single one of them, make a big, long list of your disappointments in life (just listing these out will create freedom and movement in your life). Now celebrate them! Think of all the learning these experiences have created for you. Know that, because of these experiences, you are better prepared and ready for success than ever before! Now burn that list and release any negative judgments you may still be holding regarding those experiences and allo w them to be the stepping stones on your evolutionary path of success they actually are. You have fallen down seven times, now get up eight!