“Failing helps you see how far is too far, failing helps remind you that failing isn’t fatal, and most of all, failing opens you up to succeeding.” – Seth Godin, from “Graceful”
We all make mistakes. We all have fear of something or another, whether well founded or not. Can we learn to turn our mistakes into lessons? Can we risk regardless of our fear? Some of us are fear failure, and still others fear the responsibility of success. Either of these keeps us in stasis, keeps us from pursuing that which we desire. For some of us, it keeps us from acknowledging desire at all. We close our energy fields, emotions, bodies, and thought processes down so much that we cannot even name what we want, let alone what we more deeply desire.
Each day is an invitation to take another breath into our centers, exhale out, and expand. I’m going to take a moment to do that now. This sense of opening up, of expansion, gives me a larger sense of the space around me. As soon as the animal inside me feels this spaciousness, she settles down, grows less tense and worried. Then she, and the other parts of me, can more accurately assess situations, and more germane to this conversation: catch the scent of possibility.
We don’t have to live in tiny rooms within our hearts. We can, day by day, breath by breath, open up to larger vistas. When we feel trapped, it is likely that we’ve caved in upon ourselves, narrowed our focus, and can no longer see what is outside of us. We have forgotten that we can take the risk of opening a window, and seeing the world.
If we are never willing to fail, we are never really willing to succeed. Passionate engagement means that we are learning on the fly, and learning means that we aren’t going to get things perfectly most of the time. But the reward of passionate engagement is this: we change ourselves over time. One definition of magic is the art of changing consciousness in conformity with will. We have to be willing to allow this change to happen. That is the first risk. Who knows what will happen? Not I. No one does, because the moment we open out, the second we expand, a whole new world becomes possible.
Seth Godin, who wrote that quote I started with, is hugely successful and has founded many companies that would be considered failures. By his track record, he seems to consider them to be learning experience. Godin is filled with passion, desire, and generosity. It is that generosity that keeps him going, I think. For him the world is not a place of scarcity and competition, rather, the world is a place where innovation is possible, and people can help each other discover better ways of being, of running businesses, of manufacturing, of sharing ideas. He lives from a place of expansion and openness to that which may be. Does he ever have bad days? I would imagine so. It is a rare person – myself definitely included – who doesn’t. But those days, if they come, don’t seem to stop what I see as his trajectory of inquiry, engagement, caring, and delight. That’s how I want to be: inquiring, engaged, caring, and delighted. By developing these qualities, I it becomes possible to face just about anything: sorrow or joy, success or failure.
Inquiry turns problems into puzzles. Engagement brings us back into active relationship and wonder. Caring opens us up to deeper connection, to compassion, to a wish to be of service to our projects and the world. Delight means we are looking for magic, expecting magic, and finding it in the strangest places.
Yes, I’ve stumbled, and stumbled hard. I’ve succeeded and I’ve failed. And I’m showing up again today. I’m putting these words out into the world. I’m taking a breath and opening out.
(this piece is from a larger work in progress)