Lani: Courage



I’ve known so many people who have been calcified by their own fear of failure, and I have to say… it’s not easy to embrace failure, until you remember that no one ever succeeds without failing first. You think of the hundreds of rejections that Stephen King put on a spike, or of how Steve Jobs got booted from Apple in the mid-nineties. Failure isn’t a block to success; it’s the stepping stool that lifts us high enough to reach it.

So this week, for fucked or for fab, how did the courage to step up work out for you?

43 thoughts on “Lani: Courage

  1. I don’t think that failing necessarily makes a fool out of you. I always tell my children that they can learn a lot from failing, if they can take a step back and really think about what went wrong once the dust (and their emotions) have settled.

  2. Eileen A-W says:

    As a parent I wanted to protect my children from failure, but . . . As my oldest reminded me, they could not learn unless they made mistakes. Smart kid that one. So I stepped back and watched them make mistakes, learn from them and move on.

    It’s sort of a fab week for me. Retirement paper was turned into my school district!! YAY! After 31 years in this district, with 36 years altogether, it’s time for a new beginning. Also, my hubby is taking me away this weekend for some r & r at a B & B on a lake. Water soothes me and is very healing. After our awfully long winter I need it very badly. 🙂

  3. German Chocolate Betty says:

    When I taught many years ago, I used to tell the students, “don’t be afraid to ask, there are no dumb questions.”

    Of course, I then broke the ice with, “of course, I may still be proved wrong one day…”

  4. CateM says:

    So I kissed a guy at a party. Which is not how I normally operate. And now we’re going out on a date this Sunday, even though after two weeks we will not actually see each other for 9 months. So my stepping up is trying out the whole going on a date just for fun thing. Also going on my first date since being dumped by a guy I was in love with.

    The best part is, it doesn’t feel like a big brave, momentous thing. It just feels like something fun I’m doing.

    Why will I not see him in 9 months you ask? BECAUSE I’M GOING TO IRELAND IN THE FALL. I’m studying abroad the first semester of my senior year, because why not?

    Also, I finally figured out what I’m doing for the summer. I’m going home, where I will try and get both a job and an internship and teach myself social media. So plenty of opportunities for failure there. (Also the nice reminder that I didn’t get an internship in D.C.).

    But I have a date with a guy who wears his heart on his sleeve, and I’m going to Ireland. Yay!

  5. Mama_Abbie says:

    Seven years ego I had the courage to tell my DH, “Okay, you can go to Tanzania on a mission trip without me.”

    A year later I went with him on his third two week trip where he was installing an Internet cafe at a Bible College. On that trip the principal of the school asked me to teach the 3rd year students English. I am NOT a teacher. My only real qualification is that I speak American English. I gulped and Stepped up. Fortunately the Internet was connected at the school so I was able to google English as a Second Langauge and pull down some resources.

    This week I am making my third trip (DH’s seventh or eighth) to the Bible College where we will be replacing the server we installed all those years ago. Don’t expect to be asked to teach this time. There are currently better qualified folks than I there.

    Do expect to catch up with a lot of friends that we have made over the years here. There is still some culture shock when I come to Tanzania but over all I would say that it has worked out quite well.

  6. I keep going back to Zumba and being unafraid even if I’m flailing or not in synch. I don’t care how I look. All that matters is that I’m working out and reaping benefits.

  7. I love this post. I’ve failed so many times at so many things and every time I learn something new. I can’t imagine who I’d be today if I hadn’t fallen on my face so many times. I always go back to, “If you’re not failing sometimes, you’re not trying hard enough.”

  8. There is no failure. For every action there is a result. It might not be the result you want, but there is one.

    Think of playing tennis with some friends. You tell them you’ve never played the game before. The ball makes it over the net in one of ten swings. You don’t throw down your racket and go home, you keep going. Afterward, you take a few lessons, practice against the garage door until you perfect your swing and your stance. Then you play again, and this time the ball makes it over the net every time.

    Oh, and a cute outfit helps. ; )

  9. Skylar says:

    Thank you for this reminder. I’m headed out the door to take my French translation exam for the fourth time. Yep. Fourth.

    I’ll I’m thinking is that I suck. That I’m not going to get my PhD because I can’t translate Simone de Beauvoir (which has nothing to do with my degree, never mind that I’ll never translate anything in my research.)

    But I’m going to try, again. And, if I fail, again, I try again in the fall. And feel foolish, but I’ll survive.

    I hope.

  10. German Chocolate Betty says:

    Yesterday I was madder than a wet hornet because months ago I got conned into doing something which I really didn’t want to (head up a project work package in a topic that I know virtually nothing about — “don’t worry, you just need to coordinate”, but now I have to deliver content, grrrr, so I am wasting my time researching something I have neither interest in nor benefit from), and I have to make good on it. I actually was a bit snotty to the “conman” about it yesterday (I had made it abundantly clear at the time, but he’s conveniently forgotten…).

    Sorry. Long introduction.

    However, today in the middle of grudgingly researching I stumbled across something very useful to me. Which I wouldn’t have found otherwise. Unexpectedly.

    So, sometimes “bad” things (including failure) bring good rewards.

    You’d think I’d remember that — I keep relearning this lesson over and over and over…

  11. German Chocolate Betty says:

    Hang in there, Skylar, you’ll get there! Persistence pays off!

    (I forgot all about the foreign language requirement… Which I sort of have here in Germany, except, of course, my “second language” is English — haha! Didn’t have to take any test, passport sufficed. I also get to write my dissertation in English, ’cause, well, everybody in my field publishes in English. Do have to do the defense in German though…)

  12. Office Wench Cherry says:

    I’m not feeling very brave, in fact I feel very much like going home and hiding under my bed except there are storage boxes and dust bunnies the size of Smart cars under there. And maybe a dismembered dog toy or two.

    I have this weird habit – I count things, sometime compulsively. I have all sorts of little games I play with numbers and I’m beginning to worry that it’s going a too far. This is probably not good for an accounts payable admin who works with numbers all day. My therapist thinks that, because I’ve played with numbers all my life, they have become both a security blanket and a crutch. They are calming when I’m afraid but have become something worrisome in other situations like when I’m frantic to count the number of words on a road sign and don’t watch the road properly. I’ve been working on not counting and my brain is having a nice little freak out.

    I’m not feeling very solid on my feet right now and TB is pushing for us to lose some weight. He wants to before his surgery because it will be easier on his knee to not have to support its share of 40-50 extra pounds. Makes sense but I’m not in a place where I’m ready to lose. I’m putting that aside and supporting him because I know he will do better with my help and that’s part of what being married is all about. And it probably wouldn’t kill me to lose some weight too.

    There’s a part of me that wants to just throw my hands in the air and say CHANGE ALL THE THINGS!!! (oh how I love Hyperbole and a half) and another that thinks that I’m healthy and my therapist isn’t worried about OCD so I should just go count each kernel of popcorn as I eat it.

    But I’m going to look for colours when I want to count and buy some prepackaged meals for suppers and face my weight loss fears because that’s what I need to do. It’s not what I want to do, I want to go watch season three of Warehouse 13 and eat popcorn, but it’s what I need to do. I don’t have to like it right now, I just have to do it.

  13. German Chocolate Betty says:

    Oh, I do hear you, Wench! Can you do something like knitting where counting has a purpose (plus your head is occupied with something else?), so that you have your “comfort” but at the same time you are doing something with your hands like, oh, not eating popcorn??

    Two birds and all that…

  14. I have family members who are intensely afraid of failure to the point they never try anything. They just exist, ducking from life. Sometimes I wonder if they aren’t afraid of success as well. That’s the one I truly don’t get.

    Many years ago (maybe when I was a kid) I decided if something scared me then I had to do it. To an extent. I won’t be jumping out of a plane any time soon. Or ever. But if the idea of doing something made me uncomfortable, then I pushed and did it.

    It’s how I’ve ended up living in several states. How I became a DJ. What got me back to college and got my butt in the chair writing stories. I don’t always succeed, but I have learned that failure won’t kill you. (Usually. See the jumping from a plane thing above.)

  15. Maine Betty says:

    I never think to count up stuff, but in fiction I’ve encountered that habit. From the descriptions (from different authors) it’s one of those things. Some people do and some people don’t. It can come in really handy if you do, speaking as one whoe don’t. Um, doesn’t.

  16. Office Wench Cherry says:

    You will love Ireland. Take as many opportunties as you can to travel. Which school are you going to? If you’re staying in Dublin, do yourself a giant favour and get a cab from the airport. The busses are confusing – even to airport employees.

  17. OK, I did the big thing by moving back to Seattle. Now I seem to be having a reaction and I feel crummy and stressed and I’m just napping and surfing and reading. I feel very tired. I haven’t been doing the stuff on my to-do list.

    Sooooo, I need to push myself to follow thru with my to-do list. Sure, I might fail, but I might succeed (which is, intellectually, the most likely scenario). If I don’t try, I will definitely fail and not in a learning-something way.

    But oh, all I want to do is hide in bed and pull the covers over my head!

  18. Every. Single. time.

    Every time I put a leg over a horse to sit in the saddle, I wonder to myself what is going to go wrong today, and think how it would be nice to not fall off.

    Every time, almost, that i sit down at the sewing machine to make something happen, I wonder how i did that thing the last time that worked so well and will I ever be able to access that skill again.

    It is one way to keep a beginner’s mind, but it can also be a way to go crazy…

  19. I’m a “nothing ventured, nothing gained” kind of gal. When something doesn’t work out, I don’t see it as much as failure as a sign to try a different approach.

    Think, as with many things, this goes back to my childhood. When I was a kid, I liked to move around the furniture in my room. A lot. Then I branched out to moving the furniture in other rooms. Only we had two large upright pianos. And I, the mere wisp of a girl, moved those about too. The trick was in having my legs do most of the work–if I got bruised a bit in the process I was good with that. Once I realized persistence paid off, that became a way of life. Not blindly pursing anything, but when pursuing goals that became my go-to.

    So my cure for fear of failure is tenacity. And any bruising I get along the way is just as hard earned as the successes. Because, really, life is so not a spectator’s sport.

  20. G and T says:

    When I did my cross-country move, at the time I didn’t want to do that, but these days, I do. I have a great work from home job, but it’s not a structured workday thing, so it often feels like I am not doing anything. Change is a tough thing and moving is one of the most stressful things you can do. So breathe! Pick one thing a day to enjoy doing and then move on with the rest.

  21. Maine Betty says:

    I sympathize. You steeled yourself for the big decision, you made it, you followed through, and now there’s all these others on the other side. Sheesh.

  22. Beth E says:

    I count as a calming mechanism too. Might have something to do with being a mathematician and working with numbers all day. I don’t count things though, I just count backwards or forwards by certain amounts when I’m stressed or anxious. I’ve reduced the amount of counting I do – mostly by focusing on what was causing stress/anxiety and trying to fix it.

  23. Office Wench Cherry says:

    Yay! I might be crazy but at least I’m not alone. I do count things but I also sometimes just count, especially if I’m nervous. It’s a lovely distraction.
    I know I also do it to combat boredom.

  24. Office Wench Cherry says:

    Er, you’re not crazy, Beth, that’s just me. Makes sense that a number person would play with numbers.

  25. Micki says:

    (-: I can’t tell you a reason why not, but I could give you dozens of reasons why you should . . . but I won’t bore you, except to say that one of those reasons is that there are fabulous Irish guys to kiss, as well (-:.


  26. Micki says:

    I don’t know if this will help, but do you think Simone de Beauvoir might be on an audio book somewhere? Or were her books ever made into French movies? Sometimes getting a different perspective on the language thing can help you move ahead. (Which probably would have helped a year ago, but not now — wish you luck on this test! And remember, it’s just a test. If it were real French, you’d be enjoying it (-:.)

  27. Micki says:

    Courage has been on my mind the past couple of days. We’re going to use a book called “The Courage to Write” next course, so when I went on Amazon to find it, I was surprised to see that I’d already bought it, but apparently hadn’t had “The Courage to Open It.” It is somewhere in my room, I think, although it could have shifted.

    This week is all about “The Courage to Clean.” If I don’t find it by Friday, I’m just going to have to buy a new one. Which is annoying. Because as soon as the new one arrives, the old one will float to the surface.

    Sigh. I’m annoyed. But what I need to do is take that annoyance, and transmute it into “The Courage to Build Bookshelves.” Got all the materials; just need the skills and the permission to do it. Permission from whom, I’m not quite sure. “The Courage to Be a God-damn Adult and Let Myself Build Necessary Bookshelves.”

    That’s the title of my next book.

  28. KimCz says:

    My biggest failure was being laid off from a job I had while I was in college. It turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me. Instead of getting another job in the same field I followed the voices in my head and applied, reapplied and pestered my way into a job at a bookstore. I had a great time and met a wonderful guy that proposed to me five months later. Nearly fourteen years later I am so very happy that I got laid off. I was hurt and embarrassed for years but now I feel like writing a thank you note to the owner for being such a schmuck. Ha!

    Now, I just worry about failing as a writer, it’s something I’ve wanted to do for so long. I can’t help but worry that after all of this time that I might very well be the worst writer ever. In that light, it’s much easier to procrastinate, to say ‘oh well, I haven’t really finished anything’ rather than face the idea that I might be awful at the one thing I have always wanted to do.

    I am ready to move beyond the fear of failure. It’s time to listen to the voices in my head again. Although I suppose I shouldn’t broadcast that to much, eh?

  29. Amie says:

    You are not alone in your craziness 🙂 I count a lot when I’m bored. I even will count my steps while I’m walking or count the number of tiles I’m walking across. I’ve done that since I could learn to count. (And, yes, I am an accountant as well).

  30. Max Xavier says:

    I asked my instructor out on a date. I passed my EMR test on Sunday. Monday afternoon I asked if we could meet for coffee, and we left that meeting with a date on Wednesday. And we had another today.
    He isn’t my type. He’s loud. He’s not handsome. He’s got way too much energy for a single person. And he’s intelligent, compassionate, eager to see his student succeed, and has an amazing capacity for patience.
    We’ve found an intense connection, and my stomach knots up at the thought of what I would have missed if I didn’t just grow a pair and ask.

  31. German Chocolate Betty says:

    Well, maybe he will BECOME your type. My husband also wasn’t my type — we’ve been together 8.5 years!

  32. max xavier says:

    Thank you, Betty. That was unbelievably helpful. I’m a worrier. And I have the worst luck with guys. I thought I’d do something different this time. So I picked someone completely out of my league, out of my comfort zone. Unfortunately, I have no idea what I’m doing, and I’m just trying not to screw up. Hearing that a situation like this has worked out for someone else is immensely comforting.

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