How to find the courage to fail

A couple of nights ago, I watched a recent movie about Eddie the Eagle, a true story about a British young man who wanted to become an Olympian. He surprised everyone with his courage and utterly fearless spunk, when no one believed he could ever amount to much in sport.

He was never afraid to fail and his life is full of adventure and new experiences even today. One of the best lines in the film is when he is in the elevator, going up to do the biggest jump of his life for the first time, and the other competitor turns to him and says, “Men like us, we jump to free our souls.” It’s a poetic line, but a true metaphor, too.

I’m still a bit afraid of heights…

In a way, this blog is a big jump for me. I haven’t quite lifted off yet and am still getting used to the wind in my face, holding myself ready. I like to think it becomes more liberating every time I write, even though it’s scary. (This is me giving myself a pep talk for a second.) The truth is that I still find it scary to write the hard, real things here, or even just in my own private notebook.

Why?

Because then I have to admit that I don’t have it together (yes, I still like that idea, even though I know it’s overrated and unrealistic).

Because then I have to let go of denial. Sometimes denial just feels so much easier or more comfortable than figuring out how to communicate the tough stuff.

Because the hard things often seem raw, ugly or fragile, clumsily struggling to find a fitting form on the page.

Because the bully in my head insists that somehow, I’ll be found out. (Impostor syndrome, much?) Just writing my About page recently felt sort of odd. Writing about topics that require me to be vulnerable tempts the bully (or inner critic, whatever you want to call it) like nothing else. I’ve learned to shut it up most of the time, but when I write, it nags very loudly  that

  • I have nothing to say that really matters
  • I should find something “more” real or “more profitable” to write about
  • I am writing utter rubbish, wasting time

and other such negative nonsense. It’s like having a permanently dissatisfied, intimidating old school principal calling you into the office for a lecture about not disturbing the status quo or whatever (who listens to that, anyway?).

Bugger the bully

If you want to jump to free your soul, take a lesson from Eddie and quit worrying about failure. Choose a challenging adventure, learn how to duel with it persistently and discipline your mindset.

Focus – not on conquering people, opinions, conflicts or even records – on first conquering the voice in your head that insists that you are hopelessly flawed, inadequate, ill-equipped, unwanted, incompetent and insignificant.

Do whatever forces you to question those deathly words and fears and answer them with truth and the substance of purpose.

Celebrate your life as though you yourself ARE a celebrated person – because you are. God said so, never mind other people. Celebrating (with joyful, grateful, thankful living) will drown out that voice before long, because you’ll be too busy with your exploration quest to pay much attention.

It’s up to you

Nobody ever said the bully has to be right.

Nobody said you can’t have an adventure.

You’re not too old or too broke or too anything.

Do one new thing this week – something you haven’t done or tried before. Cook or order something different than usual. Get a makeover.

Take one small jump and free yourself.

You have permission to enjoy it, and then tell me about it in the comments!

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