Failure is not necessarily a bad thing. In it lie the seeds of opportunity, if you’re willing to look for it.
Let me explain. For the first time since starting this course in September 2014, I have failed to complete a weekly service.
(those of you taking the course know how ‘gasp’ worthy that is)
My weekly was to make a full-length Victorian dress for the event I’m going to next weekend. Not just one dress, but a reversible dress, with different colors and styles on each side. And my machine was broken, so I was going to do it by hand. While in the middle of a holiday week, while watching a marathon of Harry Potter movies with my daughter and her boyfriend coming over every day.
Okay, so I put myself in a situation where I was probably going to fail. This is straight out of my old blueprint, and looking back, it seems silly. At the time, it didn’t seem that way. But in the back of my head, I thought, “can I really do this?” so even then I knew.
Things were going pretty well, actually. The skirt was sewn, the bodice and sleeves were cut out, and fit great. But then a sleeve got put in inside out, and the neckline was wrong, and on and on and on. Finally, realizing I couldn’t do the buttonholes in time, I went to a local sewing shop on Sunday and bought me a new machine.
(They were technically closed, but they were renovating and when I said I needed a machine today and if they were closed did they know anyone who sold them, they said come on in. Good business, there.)
But the neck was giving me fits and it was 11:30 pm and I normally go to bed at 10 and I hadn’t gotten to the buttonholes yet and the skirt was still to be put on and that damn sleeve still wasn’t right and I had to admit I had failed.
Haanel tells a story about failure, right at the start of part 15, and when I read it, I found it inspirational.
Here’s how it goes: An experiment was done at the Rockefeller Institute by a Dr. Jacques Loch (MD/PhD) where potted roses infested with aphids (which have no wings) were put into a room near a closed window and allowed to dry out.
Now, these aphids were in trouble. They thought they had chosen a great place to live, but it had turned disastrous. They had no food, no water, and things looked pretty dim. They had failed spectacularly. What could they do? They were just bugs, crawling around on a dying rose bush. It seemed as if they were doomed.
So what did they do? Did they just lay down and die? No.
The only method by which they could save themselves from starvation was to grow temporary wings and fly, which they did.
They took a failure and turned it into an amazing opportunity for freedom. They found resources and abilities within themselves they never had before.
When I first read this, I thought: if an aphid can do this, so can I. I am more than an aphid! So I began a little experiment of my own.
(no, I’m not trying to grow wings)
(according to Wikipedia, it’s actually their children who are born – very quickly, I’d presume – with wings)
(I’ll tell you about my experiment later. This post is getting too long as it is, and I have a lot more to say.)
So how does failure turn into opportunity? If you use it to learn something.
It didn’t hit me until yesterday that I had failed, and what that meant. I felt as if I let myself down, and I did cry a bit about that. But then I realized that I had been half-assing it for a while now. Reading Og once a day instead of three times. Not listening to my recording at all – it needs to be re-recorded and I’ve been putting it off. ‘Sort of’ finishing weekly tasks ‘well enough’. Not keeping my promises to my customers. No wonder subby figured I was going back to the old blueprint. I was.
Before I began this class, I had failed in every single area of my life. Every one.
(don’t even bother telling me ‘no, look at all the good stuff you did,’ because I have them on stacks of cards and almost every one is bittersweet, a record of great starts, even great accomplishments, ending in massive failure – and I guarantee you do not know the details)
So why in the world would I want to go back to that?
They say when you’re stressed, you seek out the familiar, and I guess that’s what I was doing.
A few months ago, someone who has known me since 1980 told me I was neutral evil.
(we were sort of having an argument at the time)
For those of you who have never played Dungeons and Dragons (D&D), here’s a fair description of the concept of alignment, and more specifically about the neutral evil alignment, although this other person and I go with the altruistic/selfish view of good/evil rather than the newer version, which is too simplistic to translate to reality.
(If you need more examples, here’s a whole slew of alignment charts applied to fictional characters. Some charts are more accurate than others.)
Now, at first him saying I was neutral evil hurt my feelings. I always thought of myself as neutral good, or at least that’s what I always wanted to be.
But then I thought about it a while, looked at my life, at who I really am, and decided that perhaps this is why the course has been so difficult for me: I am trying to change my alignment.
In D&D, changing alignment is a serious matter for a player-character: you change not only how you are as a person, you change everything, down to your gods. Changing alignment costs you, in a big way.
This explains some things. It’s making me re-evaluate my DMP, and why I do what I do, why I want what I want. This … failure, if you will (if not in me as a person but certainly in my relationships), is becoming an opportunity, because it opened my eyes to what I was pretending not to know.
I need to stop trying to change my life and change it.
(Sort of like Morpheus and Neo when they’re fighting.)
I’m scheduling this post. When it appears, I’ll be driving to New Orleans on Thursday, to go to Wizard World Comic Con and sell my book, and to go to a business conference. My dress will be done. How do I know? Because I have thought the matter through and starting at noon, for ten hours today (Tuesday) I will work on that dress. If it’s not done, then I will start at noon and work on it for ten hours Wednesday, or until it’s done.
I will make it happen.
(okay, now I really am getting silly here, channeling Palpatine, but it’s going to happen, and my week will be awesome)
So if you have failed, are failing, no matter how badly, it doesn’t matter. You can turn that failure into a chance to become someone that you weren’t before.
Look for the opportunity.
Find the resources and abilities in yourself that you didn’t know you had.
Make it happen.
See you next week. 🙂