Monday, July 8, 2013

Surviving "F"ailure

*read 'about the birds' AFTER you read the post J

This morning I spotted the first two kids. One, feet dragging, head down, spine bowed under the weight of a backpack. The other, step light, head high, fingers clutching a single marble notebook. And so it begins.

No, it’s not the first day of school. Not exactly. It’s the first day of SUMMER SCHOOL – which has always seemed to me to be infinitely worse (I’m up here in NY, USA. Our middle schools and high schools don’t have air conditioning. In fact, I’m not sure all the college buildings do. But in any case, that’s why summer school is worse. It’s frickin’ HOT. Plus, all your friends are at the beach while you sit through history class again, and realize it’s even less interesting in the sunshine than it was in the snow. But does the teacher care? No. Teacher thinks history is fascinating in all weather, in all temperatures, in all ---)

Oops. I digressed there. Sorry. Back to my point.

Two students: one trudging, one striding. You don’t need to be an expert – or even an amateur – at reading body language to be guess what’s going on here. The trudging student is carrying her failure around like a boulder. Whether she’s carrying it in front of her and can’t see where she’s going, or carrying it on her back and being bent and slowed by it, her failure is a negative that she’s suffering. The strider, though, has decided not to let her failure slow her down. This doesn’t mean she’s in denial or doesn’t care, mind you. It means she’s chosen to work past her failure and seek success.

In other words: if at first you don’t succeed… J

Think about it. Failure is normal, it’s natural. Whether it means you got an F on your history test, failed your road test, or got a letter of rejection from your dream agent/editor/publisher, failure means you’re living your life. You’re trying things. You’re taking exciting chances. (Well, for those of you that find history exciting anyway. (C’mon, I know you’re out there!)) So if failure is normal, and it’s going to happen from time to time as long as you live, what’s the best way to approach it – or recover from it?

Get back out there and try again, right? Of course right. But once you decide to give it another go (or the school system informs you that you have no option) there’s another, more important choice to make. Will you slog toward your next attempt with your head down and defeat on your mind? Or will you stride toward your next attempt with your eye on the horizon and success on your mind? See, it’s how we react to failure that makes the big difference. You can’t let it rule you, define you, or limit you. Does this mean you can’t bawl your eyes out when you fail your history final / road test / agent pitch appointment? Absolutely not! I give you full permission to bawl your eyes out, eat ice cream from the container, shout at the moon….for one day. And then get on with your own personal plan for turning failure into success. 

This is life and life is hard. Failure is inevitable. And for those who don’t let failure slow them down or define them, so is success.

Go get ‘em.


*About the birds: First, how adorable are these little guys? I love ‘em and keep ‘em on the shelf by my computer. Second, the little guy on the left I bought last year. I got such a kick out of how pissed off and withdrawn he looks…right up until I bought another bird this year and I realized I like this year’s bird so much better. Now that you’ve read about failure and success, you’ll know why I like this year’s better, and while I’ll be picking up more just like it. You see it, don't you? The body language of success: Head high, eye on the horizon…)


Melissa Landers said...

I agree, Jen! It's all in the attitude. (Also, those birds are cute, even the sullen one.)

Pintip said...

Love the birds and this post, Jen. And the thing about the positive bird is that it looks HOPEFUL...

Lynn Lovegreen said...

Great advice, Jen. We all have challenges and failures but the big difference is how we deal with them.

Lorie Langdon said...

Love this post, Jen and needed to hear it this week...let's just say reviews can be brutal. But my chin is up and I'm focused on the horizon!! :D

CareyCorp said...

Great post Jen!

PJ Sharon said...

Excellent advice,Jen. I love failure! Well...I don't really LOVE it, but I certainly appreciate all it has to offer. Every failure in my life can be traced to my effort to try something challenging and can be directly linked to learning a great life lesson.