For the last week, I’ve had the joy of having my cousins visit, including their curious and adventurous four-year-old son. As I played with him and observed his actions, I was reminded of the question: “what would we do if the idea of failure didn’t exist?” – if frustrations, mistakes, boundaries were only considered learning for the next moment, day ,week or life?
I’ve been reflecting and journaling on this idea as it relates to my life as well as talking to clients about it. There’s often an expansive door opening of possibility when we let that question land inside. What would I do or say in my profession, relationships, activities if failure wasn’t an option (and if I was the only one responsible for my joy).
First I want to mention that partying all night or traveling for the rest of your life may immediately come to mind, but I think those answers would quickly lose their luster in the extreme as they may be distractions from what is really calling deep inside. If we do a quick check in with the values we want to embody in life and be remembered by, escapism is rarely on that list.
Here’s my powerful “aha.” As I write down answers to the question, “what would I do if failure didn’t exist,” I realize that the gap between my answers and how I currently show up in the external world is the degree to which “Dis-ease” may be occurring. Dis-ease comes in all sorts of varieties – overindulgence (of food, alcohol, shopping, anything), illness, accidents, addictions. The gap can also show us the degree to which we’re minimizing our own potential. The smaller the gap, the more internal alignment, synergy, creativity, power and energy flows in all we do. This growth mindset allows us to continually stay open to learning in our ever-increasingly fast-paced world. And that mindset takes deep trust and belief within ourselves – trust that we are enough, and it’s ok to be vulnerable.
And it’s scary to lean in like that – because our voice of fear and failure is never far behind.
So here’s my promise to myself for the next month and maybe you would like to join me. Each day, pick a role that you play (professional, parent, child, friend, athlete, etc) and write down the thoughts and answers to the question: what would I do/say/act if failure didn’t exist? And then, set the intention and commit to one small step to lessen the gap between that answer and how we externally show up. Honesty, clarity, stronger boundaries, less fear have all been a part of my emerging energy as I do this practice.
It can begin with Six Minutes Daily – three minutes of quietly breathing in space and light; two minutes of reflecting and writing down our intention or awareness; one minute of writing down something for which we are grateful. Here’s to the quiet shift and seismic change that can ignite our greatest potential.
And here’s to the wisdom of learning from a four year old.