Have you ever been fired from a job? Have you ever not finished a race? Did you flunk out of a class? Have you ever had a business fail? I have experienced several of these situations. I was once fired from a job that I went to college to study for. I did open a business that I had to close because it was not making the money I had hoped for in this state. I have failed, but I don’t consider these things failures. I consider them learning experiences. Yea when they happen to you they seem like the crappiest things you can go through, but in reality they are building your character and making you see how strong you really are.
When I lost my job as a legal secretary at a very big law firm in Hartford, I thought I would never go anywhere in life, but I was fortunate to be hired back from the employer I left (who I still work for now). I had to start over in a different capacity there, but I moved into new positions and learned new things and ended up going back to school and got a B.S. in Computer Science with a specialization in web design. And I am much happier doing this creative type of work than filling in forms and pushing paper in a law firm.
I also took a risk and opened a business in 2005. I learned so much about how to open a business, the laws, the taxes, the fees associated with running a business and how you can’t make money when you own your own business. At least not in the way we ran the business. While it was a stressful time and a difficult decision to close the business 4 years later, it was a smart decision. Looking back, it still stings when we think about what we went through; but I do know that I have learned so much and can say that I was a business owner in my lifetime. I dealt with all of the aspects of owning a business from the finances, to payroll, maintenance, marketing, hiring personnel, purchasing and sales.
When it comes to the sport of running, I can say I have had failures. They haven’t come in the form of a DNF, but they have come in injuries from doing too much too soon. I have learned from some of my friends. My friend Laurel Moffit attempted to the Dopey Challenge in 2013 and was unable to finish the full marathon. She wrote a blog post about it at www.penniestoyennies.com after waiting several months after the event because she needed to process everything that happened to her. I am always writing about successes and goals and wishes, but there is something that we have to deal with when setting goals and attempting to raise the bar to harder and harder achievements. There are times where we are going to fail. And that’s totally OK.
I read Laurel’s blog again and how she admitted to being sore and under trained and cried when she had to be picked up the sweeper bus. But she also realized that she didn’t succeed because she didn’t put the time in that is needed for such a challenge. She took what she learned from that experience and spent most of 2013 training for the 2014 Goofy Challenge.
I have another friend who was a victim of the sweeper bus for the marathon in 2013. She also blogged about it and I found reading their articles were more helpful to me than reading articles from people who succeeded because I can learn from their failures and things they did wrong and also get inspiration from them; because both of those friends didn’t give up. They picked themselves up and tried again next year!
I have written about my other podcast that I listen to called Laugh or Go Crazy and they talked about redefining failure. It was great to hear a perspective that if you didn’t have a day where you failed then you aren’t succeeding because you aren’t learning from your failures.
Why are we so hard on ourselves when we fail?
Here’s what I know about failure. If you always do everything right and don’t fail, chances are you aren’t trying very hard. Failure does build character, and you should try new things. You can succeed in trying. I say this time and time again to my children. NEVER GIVE UP. They know it. My son was having a hard time with baseball and was throwing a fit in the driveway last weekend but I told him to NEVER GIVE UP. You may not catch every ball, but no one can.
I am registered for the Dopey challenge in 2015 which is 4 races in 4 days covering a 5K, 10K, half marathon and marathon. I hope I don’t fail at this major commitment I signed up for. I will be confident in my training. I WILL train. And if by chance I don’t finish, the experience of trying and working towards it is almost as good as the race weekend. Not quite as good, but almost.