Don’t worry about failure, worry about the chances you miss when you don’t even try.
– Jack Canfield
As a child, I don’t remember being particularly good at anything. I was average in a lot of different subjects, I also didn’t fully invest myself in anything.
I happily cruised through my teenage years. Bubbly, having fun, sometimes sad, mostly longing for something I couldn’t draw a clear picture of.
Torn between two opposing voices in my head, one incredibly ambitious, believed I could do amazing things, another constantly doubting, sabotaging any chance of the fulfillment we feel when we pursue difficult and meaningful tasks.
I started working out when I was 15 years old, and looking back I think I was really looking for that sweet spot of enduring challenges long enough to actually see a transformation not just in the way I thought, but in the way I went about doing things.
For a few years, I was also a runner, running every day for about an hour, whether it was pouring down or blazing hot. But it was yoga that fundamentally transformed the way I perceived myself.
Yoga was the second hardest thing I did, the hardest was teaching yoga. I started with no particular grace, flexibility or strength. I could barely breathe in a downward dog. I was stiff, weak and not particularly willing to invest myself in something I only seemed doomed to fail in.
But I loved how I felt when I was practicing. I loved the feeling after an amazing yoga class. I sure as hell didn’t love the challenge in the beginning. It was overwhelming. It was bigger than me. It overpowered my tiny spark of belief.
And somehow, I kept putting myself in even more challenging situations. From going to India for a teacher training only a few months after I even started practicing, to doing an advanced yoga training the year after.
The next training I enrolled in involved teaching in front of a group of peers judging my performance. Two days before my body reflected the amount of stress I was experiencing and my neck was so stiff I could barely move. I thought perfect, that way I can’t do it. I honestly even told my teacher I couldn’t do it because of my neck and asked if I could change it to the next day. She said no due to schedule reasons and basically good intuition.
I don’t think I held on to that tiny spark of belief. I don’t think I could have believed back then. But I questioned and I wondered, that’s what I did that kept me going. I wondered if one day I would be able to do the splits or a handstand. I wondered how amazing it would feel to nail it after years of practice.
What also got me through it, was the willingness to fail. When we don’t fully trust ourselves, we don’t know that if we fail we’ll pick up the pieces and somehow move forward.
I remember practicing headstand against the wall with little or no progress. Frustration would get the best of me. Fear held me in my tracks. And that only changed when I stepped away from the wall, fell flat on my back and realized It was no big deal.
I held that lesson closely. My fear of falling was a Beverly Hills mansion, the fall itself was a 1 bedroom apartment in Brooklin. No match.
Obviously, some falls are harder. Life can knock us down, make us question the humanity or justice in the world. Life isn’t always easy. It can be incredibly hard. What we don’t know is that we’re incredibly capable. Strong, resilient, patient, determined.
Last week, I had a meeting with someone who asked me: what words do your friends use to describe you? And just a few days before I was offered the same 3 words on different occasions. Determined, focused, strong.
I couldn’t help but think how years back when I was a teenager those words would have sounded like a joke if someone used them to describe me. I didn’t always believe I could be an example of those words. But I wondered. And I allowed myself to fail so that I could ultimately succeed and truly believe that, no matter how hard the fall, I’ll move through it and make my own way to where I want to go.
You don’t have to believe yet, but can you wonder too?