Afraid to fail

Elk finding a convenient way to rehydrate at the South Rim  of the Grand Canyon

Elk finding a convenient way to rehydrate
at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon

You’ve likely heard the oft-repeated expression, “What would you attempt to do if you knew you couldn’t fail?” In other words, it is a fear of failure that keeps us  from reaching beyond our comfort zone and realizing our full potential. While fear of failure can be a negative, I choose to look at it in a more positive light. It can be a strong motivator to exceed in challenges both big and small.

When I was young, I was driven by positive feedback. I didn’t want to disappoint my parents or my teachers so I followed all the rules, studied, and tried not to do anything that would bring on negative attention. Still there were times when I felt it was necessary to take a stand against what I perceived to be a wrong. My elementary school had a tradition of a student teacher softball game for the sixth grade just before our promotion to junior high. I loved softball and played it often with my brother and his friends in the street in front of our house. But, this was the sixties and the school officials decreed that only boys could participate in the end-of-year game. We girls were  only allowed to shag balls for the boys while they practiced their batting skills for the upcoming contest. I protested the unfairness of this to my teacher and refused to participate in the boys practice sessions. My protest failed and the game went on between the boys and the teachers. But I learned some important life lessons that have helped sustain me through life’s frustrations.

We all fail in some way on a regular basis. I don’t think we need to be afraid of failure, but we should use it to help us grow. We can learn from our failures. We can prepare ourselves better the next time so as to be more successful. If there is something that you want to try, do some research, practice, and don’t be deterred by setbacks. Realize that we all have different skill sets and talents. In spite of my best efforts, I will not be an accomplished guitar player. But that’s OK,  I gave it a try because I wasn’t afraid to fail. And there are so many other things that I have tried, some successfully and others not, but my life has been so much richer for the attempt.

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