What would you do if you knew you could not fail?

IMG_2909This quote, by famed minister Robert Schuller, is used all the time in inspirational quotes or speeches.  I’ve always liked it and was thinking about what I would do today during Paddleboard Yoga.  Stirring around in my head were happy memories from going to Boulder for the weekend and other adventures I still have on the drawing board in my head but on which I haven’t made a move.

I tend to think that I hold myself back from taking action, from taking risks, because the thought of failing gives me a fairly heavy dose of anxiety. No kidding, I strive to do things which I know I can accomplish.  Things that are dependent only on me. It’s why I like individual sports.  I’m responsible for my performance, for how well I “hit the bar.”  I can be like that at work sometimes too.  While I’ll always say yes to a project, I make darned sure I will succeed.  While the thought of working collaboratively with others makes sense to me, and, in concept, is something I want to do, push comes to shove, I’m taking that puppy over. I realize this isn’t my healthiest thought pattern, but I own it.  I work on it.

This morning I was doing SUP (Paddleboard) Yoga, which I love. It’s hard, my balance is not fantastic, and today I was really wobbly.  I had the “opportunity” to cool off several times when I fell in the water. I’ve done SUP Yoga 4 times now through REI.  Each time, the main instructor is Dyanna, who is awesome and who encourages me to try hard balancing poses.  The last couple of times, I’ve been trying to do a headstand.  Tried again today… more opportunities to get wet. Today in the midst of my efforts, the other instructor, Megan, told me to think about the journey not the destination. Another familiar quote, but one which always resonates with me.

And something clicked for me.  It wasn’t the headstand, no, that’s well photo documented as not happening yet. What clicked is that I was trying something which, in all reality, I had a high chance of failing. (In my head right now and at that moment, mic drop) I tried, knowing the headstand is thus far elusive to me, and nothing bad happened.   I took risk, I fell, and nothing bad happened. No one mocked me, I didn’t get hurt, I’m not on the SUP Yoga blooper role. Instead, I got encouraged for trying.  I was proud of myself for merely making the attempt.

I thought about some of the other areas lately where I’ve been brave, taken a risk, and maybe failed a little, but still tried.  And the world hasn’t stopped.  When I went to Boulder, I had a great time, after having an anxiety attack standing in the Denver airport and nearly starting to cry.  But I pushed forward. I’m in my class to become a certified coach, and it’s hard, and I feel like my first peer coaching session was a hot mess, but I’m pushing forward. I had a really hard, honest conversation with someone last week, and I don’t know where that will end up, but I was brave and I put myself out there.

In my head I so often think that I don’t take risks, that I keep myself in a safety bubble or safety zone. But now I don’t think that’s really true.  If I can shift my mind to think of things I’ve tried, maybe failed, maybe not, but that I chose to experience nonetheless, couldn’t that go on the win side in my mind?  If I could remember that even if a small part of the adventure is hard, or that I might not succeed, like my SUP Yoga headstand, but that overall I was still brave and took a chance, what else might I try? Where else have I had success but let the “fail” become how it’s defined in my mind?

There’s the challenge. I have a choice how I want to define and characterize my experiences.  I can choose fail or I can choose brave and fun and success. In that light, wow! Many more successes, being very brave. So think about it, I’ll bet you are very brave, and that you’ve had a million wins! Make the shift and you’ll see it too.

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