The dreaded “F” Word

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It’s been a while since I’ve posted – you are probably wondering where I have gone! Well I’m still here. Still fighting the fight as we all do. But fighting is not the word I am referring to. Today I want to talk about something that holds us all back – the dread of not being good enough. The fear of “Failure”. Dun dun daaaaaahhhh! And that’s different to the fear of being just plain old bad. It’s being less than you want to be, and the unimportant but ominous “less than what other’s expect you to be” or “less than you want others to think of you”.

Over the years we figure out usually that we aren’t useless. We usually even figure out that we are perhaps “ok” or heaven forbid admit to ourselves we are “good”. So when I say we are afraid of failure we usually know we are going to be “ok”. But we still consider that a failure. That means we have made “failure” synonymous with “not stand down exceptional with no question you are the best there is in the world that gets nothing wrong and the panel stands to give you a standing ovation and apologises for ever doubting you”.

Too far? Maybe that’s just me. In fact, I should skip the generalisation, because we all see failure as a different thing. For me, I have made “failure” synonymous with “looking/being less than perfect”. I’m pretty skilled at what I do. And it’s something I’ve learned over many years of working hard and learning. But I’m not perfect. That’s part of what makes me great. I am also aware I have a lot to learn and I constantly beat myself up for not being good enough. Constantly. So why, when I stand in an audition room do I suddenly expect of myself to be the best? I’ve always said it is good that I have such high expectations on myself – and to a degree that is true. It’s part of why I work so hard to be the best I can be. But I’ve come to realise that it is also holding me back. It is making me withhold that which I am not confident in until it is “ready” and doubt that which I am good at because I don’t want to be less than I “should be”. It is what kicks in the nerves in an audition room or an interview. Not the fear that I will suck – but the fear that I will appear the fool for thinking I was worthy of being there in the first place.

Someone said something very interesting to me the other day. It was that the most fearless and stress-free individuals have nothing to lose in that they had nothing to start with -Anything is a step up. They have no expectation on themselves nor do they expect others to be waiting for them to miss the bar. Well I have always been a high achiever. I have set the bar crazy high both to myself and those around me. And it’s scary. Because I feel like if I don’t get over it I’ve failed. And that has never been enough to fully stop me from trying, but it has been enough to make me be cleverly cautious about how I proceed. And I am done with holding myself back.

I’m not quite sure how I start changing that because its a big thing. I’m not so sure I can change my definition of failure, or entirely sure that I want to. But what I can do is start telling myself it is ok to fail. I have had some incredible successes in my life but BOY have I FAILED as well.  And I will again! And I want to put myself in situations where I can. Because by my definition and even by the world’s definition I HAVE failed SO MANY TIMES. And in so many different areas. And I’m happily posting it here for all to read. Because I don’t need you to think I haven’t. And they don’t make my successes any less or ME any less. In fact, I want you to celebrate with me every single one of those failures. Because those failures have made me BETTER and will make me exceptional. And more than that – they make me ME. Because that is the one thing that I can never ever fail at.

“Failure” may be a dreaded word but it certainly shouldn’t be a shameful one. And the sooner we realise it is actually a blessing, the sooner we realise that failure and success are just two different but equally positive outcomes.

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