I have decided to fail with flair in 2018.
I became intrigued by the word FAIL a couple of years ago when I began my coaching certification program with CTI. On our first day in class, the facilitators stuck a name tag on our chest with one word on it: FAIL. My initial reaction was “no, thank you. I know you just met me, but I don’t do failure. I don’t like failure. I avoid failure at all costs. This is kinda like school, and I rock school.” Wearing the word FAIL on my chest seemed like a poor way to start this new adventure, a process where I intended to succeed, not fail.
The group leaders went on to explain their unusual request; the intention for the unexpected and somewhat unwelcome word, prominently and repeatedly displayed, was to challenge our thinking. They acknowledged the wealth of expertise and experience in the room, professionals from a variety of fields, yet asked us each to lay that aside temporarily and take on a different perspective. In that space, they invited us to consider the invitation to be beginners.
A beginner, no matter what the activity, knows they are still learning, and a beginner gives themselves permission to stumble, stop, and start over. A beginner moves at their own speed and may take a moment or two to get warmed up. A beginner watches what more experienced practitioners do, and then experiments with a variety of techniques until they find the style that works best for them. A brave beginner falls forward, sometimes awkwardly, willing to fail in service of experimenting, learning and growing. Most of all, a brave beginner knows that playing it safe and careful won’t get them where they want to be- to mastery and to excellence.
Despite my initial discomfort with the word fail, I decided to accept the challenge. My coach training, which I have now completed, was a substantial investment in both time and money. I wasn’t willing to do it halfway. Although falling on my face and failing in front of others still makes me queasy, there was and is great freedom in thinking of myself as still learning, still growing, and still becoming the best coach I can be. I am a better coach, because sometimes I am an awkward, messy or even bad coach. When I am playing it safe so I won’t fail and feel foolish, I miss out on some of the most beautiful moments of my life. Me playing it safe does not serve my client or the world. When I am playing it safe so I won't fail and feel foolish, I miss the most beautiful moments. Click To Tweet
Although the invitation to be a beginner who is willing to fail came from my coaching mentors, I have reclaimed the invitation in other areas of my life. I’ve never been a published author before, so I’m a beginner. I’ve never been interviewed on the radio before, so I’m a beginner. I’ve never spoken in front of a group of fifty women six weeks in a row before, so I’m a beginner. I’ve never been an empty nest mama in my fifties before, so I’m a beginner. I’ve never lived THIS day before, so I’m a beginner.
I’m doing some exciting new things these days, so I’m going to fail. I don’t have to like it, but I can choose to learn from it. The day I received my name tag with the word FAIL on it, I was told it stood for From All I Learn. I may not enjoy or seek out failure, but I will choose to celebrate the gifts it brings when it inevitably comes.
So here is today’s announcement: I’ve decided the F in my word for the year now stands for Fail. I have decided Fail is much more inspirational and provocative than Focus. Focus is boring. And it’s my word for the year, so I get to change my mind. I know you are all on the edge of your seat waiting to be informed of the evolution of my word for the year 🙂
And in case you are wondering about the title of this post, I learned about failing with flair (style, panache, dash, elan, poise, elegance, good taste and discernment) from every time I ever played a sport. Skiing, tennis, golf, but especially skiing. I fall A LOT when I ski.
My motto: if you are going to fall, at least make sure you are dressed in a cute outfit.
Philippians 3:12-14 (MSG) I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.