Last month a group of women came together to explore how failure keeps us from living into our big life ....AND to explore the potential JOY of integrating failure!
Most of us would avoid the topic of failure like the plague. However I know this to be a crucial area for growth for me and the women I work with. Hence it was worth a risk - of failing, LOL!
As it turned out, we had a cafe full of women looking forward to the conversation. Really? Yep.
True, the evening on the whole was more reflective than bubbly. It was also deeply moving and inspiring. Everyone wanted to hear each others' experiences, and to gain new power and freedom in this area of their lives. Plus there was a heap of warmth and laughter along the way.
It was clear that beneath failure and the suite of associated strong negative emotions, the common denominator is FEAR.
Front from left: Penny Robertson and Three Bowls host Lynne Smith. Back from left: Elisabeth and Rebecca Chapman. Yes the conversation really is about integrating failure into our lives, rather than trying to exclude it.
Fear of not being enough; of not being able to deal appropriately with whatever it is that we've experienced negatively in the past - or that we worry might be ahead of us. Fear that keeps us small and that we'd be MORE than happy to move beyond.
The dimensions of fear
We wonder how it can seem such a slog to achieve our vision - or even to get through daily life. It can feel so slooooow, like moving through treacle. Or pulled back at every step, as though we have an anchor dragging behind us. Or we can know that we're focused in the right direction, and powerfully committed to our path, heading forward with total determination, goals and action plan in place - yet with the accelerator AND the brake on at the same time! Duh!
You might be starting to get a sense of how often fear really does direct our lives. [Breathe.] And you sense how small is the space we play, as well as how small we allow ourselves to be, when our lives are guided by avoiding the fear of failure.
Are you getting a sense of what your respective landscape looks like? Well that's good. Yeah okay, squirmy but good. And a sign that it's time to step out of those constraints - for those who are passionate about making a difference for the world!
That happens through an inquiry into the areas that most hold us back.
Three key places to start
What is failure after all? Who decides? Is it our own or another's expectations? Somewhere along the line we've bought into someone's set of criteria about what counts as success; what is acceptable for this human being. Get that this is a movable feast - it is NOT the absolute that our fear makes it out to be. It is an essential aspect of being human, of learning - and the basis of most of the really important medical, scientific and other discoveries in the world! So how about turning it round to say... "Failure? Bring it on!!" It's also the space of vulnerability, when we actually do share our humanity, our authenticity, that which makes us each unique and enables us to connect with others.
Aha, yes. Who else is guilty of automatically equating the results of an action with your innate worth? A dead giveaway is the inner talk along the lines of 'oh my god, I'm a failure', and an associated sense of shame and self-abhorrence. Yikes! So what to do, you might ask. Well ...
- Separate those two aspects! They are actually not related, are they! Right?
- Practise love, kindness, respect and gratitude towards yourself ALWAYS, ie NOT only when you fit your criteria for perfection! (Okay?)
3. Our relationship with failure, and the fear of failure.
Traditionally, we avoid failure, right? There are lots of places in our lives where our inner machinery steps into autopilot to make sure we don't go there, ie to that potentially scary place where we might show our humanity! Yet this avoidance is so restrictive, isn't it - and provides little chance for us to realise our big vision. After all, any move to step up into our full potential risks...ta daaa...failure as we move outside our comfort zone! Another option is simply to be with that fear. Recognise it for what it is - energy - energy that we name and add some sort of meaning to - and begin to observe it, even get comfortable with it.
If these sound a bit on the ordinary side, go try them out!
Spaces for a liberating conversation
That's when you know you're playing into your full potential, grrrl - and amazing new opportunities open up without needing to change anything in your physical or other circumstances.
If that sounds CHALLENGING, well, you're right. We've been well patterned haven't we! The way forward? Connect with and stay powerfully connected with the ideas in this newsletter and the possibilities that would open up for you.
Some of the options:
- Do the inner work. Be present. Be aware of the nuances of what is going on in your life. (Yes, this is in itself a life's work). Practise this inner work in your life - in real ways. Even look for opportunities to fail in the process!
- Be your own life scientist. Think how scientists and researchers treat hypotheses, and how much has been gained from 'mistakes', 'failures' and the like. Go have some fun and learn from the experiences.
- Find or create your own circle of make-a-difference women who'll be a powerful stand for each other - who will call you into greatness. We can all do with this.
- Join an existing community of women. If you're in Brisbane and would LOVE to have a community of inspiring women who are seriously up for being all they can be in themselves...for making a difference for the planet - AND empowering other women to do the same ... you are invited to spend an evening with the Women Howling at the Moon face-to-face community located in Brisbane. The next evening, and the final for the year, is Thursday 26 November. (More information / book here)
In my Unstoppable Women programs - individually and in small groups - women explore and step into creating the clearing for their magnificence as one of the Seven Dimensions of Being Unstoppable - on their terms. In less than 3 months they have connected powerfully with their vision and inner resolve, mapped their commitments, dealt with failure, built their courage catalyst capacity, established the structures to sustain them, and truly know themselves to be unstoppable and inspiring in the face of whatever. Once they know that, anything becomes possible.
Next month: Stories from women being unstoppable
In the next post - and at this next Women Howling at the Moon - we'll hear from women who have connected with their Unstoppability and dealt with failure - and the fear of failure.
For example, Elina Juusola (right) is a highly intelligent, world savvy researcher into sex trafficking - who was herself scammed by an internet romance scammer!
That was bad enough. Then Elina decided to write a book about it to assist herself as well as others. That's when she became stuck, unable to continue. What was the issue? And how did she turn it around? Wait for the next exciting blog post, hehe...