I’ve started looking at failure quite differently, but more specifically how it interacts with my ego.

I was thinking of how I work, and how I hate to make mistakes. I’m always careful. My ego is super sensitive. It doesn’t like to be embarrassed in any way. It comes in when I’m trying something out for the first time, it hovers over me, staring me down with pressure not to fail, desperation to be perfect, and when failure or setbacks happen, it crumbles. It shuts down and runs out of the room. It bashes me for not being good enough, “why didn’t you get it right on the first try?!” It yells. It wounds my spirit and leaves me terribly insecure. And worst of all it refuses to ever try again. It is after all the highest point of my sensitivity and it takes its downfalls as hard as it takes its glories.

So I decided to try something. What if I changed my hovering companion to “failure” instead? What if I allowed failure to walk side by side with me while I experimented?  Now, this may sound even worse than having an ego to boss you around. Who sets themselves up for failure after all? Well not me, and neither should you because that is not what I’m asking of you. By allowing failure to stand by as a companion I have done the first most powerful thing everyone should do when embarking on any kind of plan: I have chosen not to be afraid of it. The poor guy gets enough sh*t from the rest of the world running away from it like it is this big ugly monster. The mere thought of it having any place in our lives makes us cringe and tense up. Poor, poor failure, made out to be a bad guy, prayed out of our lives like a demon, when all it has ever tried to give you, all its wholeheartedly and sincerely attempted pouring out to you, has been a chance at success!

My problem is not that my ego hates failure. My problem is that it has been afraid of failure.
Success and failure are not enemies. They are much closer than you think. I dare to even call them half brothers. Even though one brother is seen as the uglier, unwanted child, the two work hand in hand, in equal halves, to bring that ego of yours its glories. Imagine a science experiment, by making mistakes and failing you are able to eliminate what doesn’t work and increase your chance at success. Less time is wasted the second go around, you perfect the skill, and you produce a stronger more effective result. For creatives like me, sometimes mistakes serve as an inspiration. It happens when I keep making the same mistakes over and over— I’ve come to realize that is failure’s way of literally nudging me to turn my experiment on its head and look at it completely differently.

So try not to cringe at the thought of failure coming along, try not to let it handicap your creativity or dreams, for it has no intention to do that. Failure has a good heart; it only wants the best for you. And the next time you start a new project, a relationship, a plan, and you feel your ego beginning to panic in fear of failure say to it: Ego, I ask you to respectfully and silently let failure do its job in teaching me. Don’t interrupt us and don’t coerce me into giving up. It’s okay to yell at failure, it might show you something you couldn’t see, but for heaven’s sake don’t yell at me anymore! because the truth is by letting failure come to work with me it has neither become me nor, I, it. We are separate entities: a teacher and a student with a healthy distance, and when I have mastered my craft and it has taught me what I need to know, I will leave the teacher behind.

The truth is you may not always fail, sometimes you might just fly, but the only way to get here is if you see things through. Have the courage to keep going, have faith in God, and do not allow your ego’s sensitivity to stop you from moving forward because that is, in fact, the only thing that can stop you. Failure can’t stop you, only you can stop you.

So maybe what I really meant to say in the beginning was I’ve started to look failure quite differently, but more specifically how my ego interacts with it.

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