- Batman Begins / Warner Bros. Pictures, DC Comics –
Today has been one of those days, you know, the day nothing works out. I had a big order coming in and the guy just bailed out on me at the last moment. What should I do now with 100 boxes of chocolates? Each chocolate is engraved with the words “honey bunny” in pink on top of a chocolate shaped as a white bunny.
At the start I rejected the option of failing, when I started my business I said I will never fail. I will do everything in order to succeed. Failure is not an option! I worked so hard, so many long hours. I took no vacation, just the store, home, kids. Chocolate, chores and play dates. Doing, doing and doing. Failure is not an option, I can do it all.
And then one day I failed, I delivered the wrong chocolate order, I missed my daughter’s ballet class and it was painful. You know, failure hurts. It is painful. I did not want to have this feeling again. I was afraid.
I decided to make sure I will not fail again. I think, as most people who do not want to experience failure, I found the way to avoid failure is by not trying “unsure” things. I stopped taking orders which forced me to think more creatively, because maybe I will not be able to fulfill them and I will fail. I stopped conducting those special chocolates events because maybe people would not like them, maybe no one will show up and I will fail. I stopped looking for new clients because maybe they will not like me, maybe they will reject my offer and I will fail. I even stopped baking my own special Friday chocolate cakes because maybe no one will buy them and I will need to throw them away and I will fail. I did not want to feel this pain again. I even thought about closing the store.
“Why do we fail, Liz?” I remember Charlie asking me this question. I gave a lot of thought to this question, I always thought we should not allow ourselves to fail, I never really thought of the reason for failing. The real reason, not my perceived reason of forgetting to mark the ballet class on my calendar, the real reason we fail.
Charlie said “we fail so we can learn from our mistakes and get back up. Liz, we fail in order to learn, to learn how to do things differently, to learn how to do it better next time, to learn how to get up”.
I thought a lot about Charlie’s words since that day. I now believe people who want to achieve a “no failure guaranteed life” also unknowingly achieve other things. You see, if I want to make sure I will never fail, I also make sure never to try anything new, I will not move forward, I will not experience new things, I will not create, do, progress or have a new and growing impact on people’s lives. I will be stuck where I am. But others, my competitors, my clients, my friends, will move forward. What does it say about me? Am I a failure?
So, I now embrace the lessons I learn from my failures, it is still painful to go through a failure, and I am still doing whatever I can to make sure I will not fail. I make sure I have my systems in order, I make sure I take control on things which are under my control, but I do not let the fear of failure prevents me from trying new things. I now know, if I fail I will not only get up, but I will get up with new insights under my belt.
I learned to crave for the learning, for those insights. I want to try things, I want to inspire all the people around me, I want my kids to never be afraid to try, I want them to see failing as a learning, I want to show the world how I get up, and anyway, who really wants to fall and stay down? It’s much more fun to get up.
Now, what should I do with all those white bunnies?
Question: Tell me about your failures, and more importantly, tell me how you learned to pick yourself up!
There is a Japanese phrase which my master taught me, it says “Nana Korobi Ya Oki “ or “Fall Down Seven Times, Get Up Eight”. If you fail seven times, you should recover from those events and be prepared to rise the eighth time. You can find more Japanese wisdom from my master at One Day – One Lifetime: An Illustrated Guide to the Spirit, Practice and Philosophy of Seidoi Karate Meditation.