Monday, March 5, 2012

Fail Up


It's my month to fail up. Which is just another way of saying I'm going to seek out new challenges.

In past months I've made an attempt to live like the kids. I've been eating less sugar, cutting out late nights and having more fun.

Those small adjustments in my lifestyle have suffered occasional derailment in the name of Girl Scout cookies, rave-inspired birthday parties and a couple of unintentional late night reading marathons. But the good thing about living like a kid is you get to make plenty of mistakes. The other good thing is most of my slip-ups can be reclassified under the third category of living like a kid, which is having more fun.

Few would argue that living like a kid isn't good for body and soul. It provides more energy and lots to talk about but it doesn't do much to expand my skill sets.

Which is why I've decided to make March my month to take a few chances. The more I thought about this goal the more I realized I would still be living like a kid.

I'm sitting at my dining room table as I write this blog post because my daughter has taken over my office. She's holed up, working on the biography of Coco Chanel she's preparing for school. Despite the subject matter, which she loves, this project is riddled with challenges.

There's keyboarding for example. "AAARRRGHH, why is everything I type capitalized? MOM, it's NOT working."

"Did you accidentally hit the Caps Lock key?"

"Oh, maybe. Okay. Go away. Don't read over my shoulder."

Yes, she caught me reading over her shoulder and in that brief moment I read that Coco Chanel "got women out of bonnets, created the little black dress and lots of other stuff."

On a daily basis kids are pushed to learn new things; technology, descriptive writing, grammar. We aren't born knowing the phrase 'lots of other stuff' shouldn't be used in a biographical essay. We learn this information and the learning process isn't always easy.

In fact, my daughter is often frustrated by her school work but she pushes through. I expect her to push through because she's in fourth grade and still has a lot to learn.

And then there's me. I expect my kids to take chances and risk failure because I want them to learn. Do I have anything left to learn? Does fear of failure prevent me from trying new things? Most importantly, if I wouldn't accept those excuses from my kids, why should I accept them from myself?

Stop by on Wednesday when I'll be looking at excuses. Some will be borrowed, some will be my own. The one thing they have in common is their unilateral goal of protecting the status quo.


Talli Roland said...

I love this post! I'm a really bad one for fear of failure - I should take a lesson from kids for sure. Thanks for the reminder.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

We never stop learning until we die!

T. L. Cooper said...

Awesome goal!

A couple of years ago I signed up to take 5 golf lessons. I'd wanted to take them for years, but my few feeble attempts at golf had been so bad I was afrad to even try. Then a chacter in the book I'm writing decided to golf... Oh, boy, now I had an excuse if it didn't go well. I needed to understand the game better to write about it, so even if I failed, I won...

I started the lessons and fell in love with the game. I'm not great but I'm not terrible. And I get better every time I play.

Taking the lessons had a positive impact on the rest of my life including my writing, my mood, and my relationships with others.

So I say, tackle that fear of failure and get on with it!! Learn something you've always wanted to learn.

Now where's that list of other things I've been avoiding tackling out of fear of failure??? Hhmmmm!

Johanna Garth said...

Talli, I find that hard to believe!

Alex, absolutely.

T.L., that's such a great story.

Morgan said...

*gasp* But... the girl scout cookies!!!! LOL.

Oh the joys of learning... I wish I were better at learning lessons quicker... it'd save a lot of heart ache ;)

Unknown said...

"Oh, maybe. Okay. Go away. Don't read over my shoulder." <--- I love this line!!
Failure is something I've had to deal with over the past few years. It was something I'd been so conditioned against while growing up that I was TERRIFIED of it. But looking back, those things that I thought were "failures" actually ended up leading me exactly where I was meant to be :-)

Angela Cothran said...

Go away. Don't read over my shoulder--LOL! Kids crack me up :)

Copyboy said...

Hey thinmints are my downfall too. :)

Dianne K. Salerni said...

Oh, boy. If I had a nickel for every time kids wrote stuff in an essay for me, I could retire.

Or a penny for every time the word "they" was used to mean, you know, "somebody whose name I can't remember ..."

Sarah B said...

Love the line to "fail up". Most of the time I take myself way to seriously.

Anonymous said...

Great post. Do you ever find yourself saying something to your daughter, stopping and realise you should be listening to yourself? :)

I have a 9 yr old who loves to write and I was talking to him one day about not giving up. I think I ended up giving myself the bigger pep talk that day!

Rachel Schieffelbein said...

Well said. :)
Oh, and tag, you're it. (Lucky seven meme.)

~Sia McKye~ said...

Hmm, I've heard that refrain before--stop reading over my shoulder, followed by what do you mean this part doesn't make sense mom? I hate writers! lol!

I don't know that I fear failure as much as the responsibility that comes with success. Every time you accomplish something there are these little gremlins piling more stuff on you, lol!

People do tend to let fear get in the way and stop challenging themselves. It's the challenge set and met that gives life zest. I still got "it" whatever that happens to be. I know I need to challenge myself more, too.


L. Diane Wolfe said...

No excuses allowed!

Christine Murray said...

I love this post, I think I'll try to do this myself. I'm currently fostering a seven year old boy, and doing homework with him has been a revelation for me. We beat ourselves up over everything we get wrong, but we're always telling kids that it doesn't matter if they get it wrong as long as they try.

There's definitely a lesson in there.

Sarah Tokeley said...

I'm looking forward to your next post. Fear of failure has stopped me trying so much in the past.

Johanna Garth said...

Morgan, I know the GS cookies were hard to resist.

Rachel, I love how you said failure has led you to exactly where you're supposed to be!

Angela, it's much funnier in print than in person!

Copyboy, we ALL love thin mints!

Dianne, I'm so glad you could relate to that part. Hard to bite my tongue about 'stuff'

Sarah, I think we all tend to do that.


L. Diane, exactly :)

Christine, so much of what we tell kids is applicable to ourselves.

Sarah, I think you're really going to like it! Lots of excuses listed and rebutted.

Carol Kilgore said...

I love your blog! This post is great. I think fear of failure is there anytime we try something new. Sometimes overcoming it is easy. Sometimes it's too difficult, and we give up. I don't like giving up.

Unknown said...

Awesome! I'm trying to take more risks this year myself. It's the Year of the Dragon so I've got to make the changes that I always wanted regardless of fear.