I tripped on the sidewalk the other day. I was walking alone, and no one was around. So unless someone was idly watching me from their living room window, no one witnessed what happened. I looked down at the ground to see what had tripped me up — damn those moving sidewalks! — and kept going.
This is the private kind of “failure” that we can all laugh off, even when we are the ones who had the mishap. No one knows about it, we weren’t trying anything too ambitious, no one warned us against it, and no one is there to laugh at us afterwards. It’s the comfortable kind of failure that anyone can handle.
It’s the bigger ones that trip people up (pun intended) — even before they try.
When was the last time you passed on trying something that would’ve had a huge payoff? And your (real) reasoning was not because you didn’t think you would succeed — it was because you couldn’t stop thinking about how you’d feel when other people found out you’d failed. Or you envisioned what people would say about you when they saw what you are attempting. And you stopped before you ever begun.
People aren’t really afraid of failing. What you really fear is the publicity of it.
You’d rather do what’s accepted, what everyone else is doing. That way, if you fail — and following the crowd is a failure in itself — you at least have some company. It’s failing by yourself that puts the fear of god into people, freezes them into inaction and mindless following.
I’d rather be a lion for a day than a lamb that lives forever.
You were born an original, don’t die a copy.
I see the clichés on Instagram every day. You know them too. I have to admit, though — I hear them spoken much more than I see them being embodied.
My favorite rapper 50 Cent got shot before he blew up in the music business. When asked about the situation in interviews, 50 says there were only two possible outcomes — the same applies to any failure you might have:
- You become so traumatized and embarrassed and fearful of failure (or getting shot) that the fear consumes you, and you live the rest of your life in a shell of fear and conformity to circumstances, never to be heard from again.
- You become immune to the fear/failure, hardened by and immune to the judgements, words, and actions of other people. At this point you become unstoppable, because fear — the root of why we even care about any of that stuff — has no control over you. You begin to live like you never lived before.
You have to decide if you want to be controlled by your fears, or if you want to control (or better yet, completely drop) them. Fear demands a lot of your attention, and what you focus on, you draw to you. When there is no fear, you’re no longer focusing on/drawing the failure to you, and paradoxically you succeed more often and on a larger scale.
And you don’t have to worry about tripping on the sidewalk, because you can’t walk there. You leap.