How to Try. And if it fails, how to try again.
Today's post is quite possibly going to be a massive Pinterest and social media flop. Trying and failing isn't the stuff people are madly searching for, and it probably won't get shared thousands of times. But this post is important. If you have ever tried and failed at something, you need to read this. And if you're scared to even start something, you need to read this too.
You see, last summer I taught my daughter to ride her bike (goodbye training wheels!). Missy is a tentative little soul, so we started slow - keeping her in her comfort zone just scooting around with her feet to get her balance and get used to the big new bike. As she pushed herself around and around under the trees at our holiday house, her confidence grew. We taught her how to stop, and we taught her how to fall.
Finally she was ready to get those pedals working and ride it properly... and every time she tried, she mucked it up. Eight... ten... a dozen times. Every time she tried, she couldn't do it. She wanted to give up. She cried. She kicked the bike in frustration. She crossed her little arms and stormed off. She tried and failed maybe 30 times, but we convinced her to keep going. Over and over. She told me she couldn't do it. That it didn't matter what she tried, it didn't work. She said she might as well give up.
In the end, as she sat on the bike ready to start again, I told her to stop thinking she would muck it up, stop thinking about anything - just do it. She started, feet on the pedals, wobbled a little bit, and rode up to me... past me... and all the way down the garden. And she turned and looked at me, eyes wide in disbelief, and said 'OMG, Mum, I did it!' She had tried so hard, and it had taken four days, but she had done it. She did it.
Little kids... it's inbuilt in them (with a little encouragement!) to keep trying and striving and growing. But somewhere along the way to adulthood we lose that. We stop really trying, and trade growth for safe, predictable, 'responsible' solutions. How many people do you know who talk about their big, amazing dreams - but never actually do anything. Or they start... and stumble... and give up. Because they're scared. They're scared to fail, and they're scared to succeed too - because it changes things - it changes how they see themselves and how others perceive them. So instead, they settle for a job that pays the bills. For a life like their friends. For the status quo. They settle for safety and other people's expectations.
But if you're reading this, I'm pretty sure that's not you :)
And this is one of life's big truths - if you're not failing, you're not trying. And if you're not trying, you're not learning or living or growing. You're just existing. Stagnating.
Trying and failing is part of life. It hurts - oh yes. It hurts your pride, and your ego, and your reputation. You will let yourself down, and you'll let others down. But there's no shame in it. It's good for you.
And it is scary. We are all scared. Anyone who ever tried anything new was scared. You, me, Missy - hell, the greatest minds you see quoted on Instagram everyday were scared when they started - and many failed at first. Michael Jordan, Oprah, Steven Spielberg, Bill Gates, Walt Disney, Van Gogh, JK Rowling, Jerry Seinfeld, Einstein, Edison, Abe Lincoln, Elvis... Steve Jobs... all were considered failures at one point. They failed. And they were scared. But they tried again anyway. How different would the world look if these people had never gotten back on the bike and given it another go? Seriously!
So despite the fear - try. Make a plan and begin. No one can try for you, you have to do it yourself. And if you stuff it up, if you fail, try again. Don't think about failing, don't think that you can't, don't think about how many times you've already failed. Just do it. Keep going, keep trying and eventually you will get there.
And what would I know about trying and failing? I know you're thinking it. We all present a veneer of insta-perfection to the world, because that's what the world wants to see. Successful blogger, successful marriage, successful husband, beautiful daughters, growing company, overseas holidays, lucky, successful...
But very, very few people know the truth. That I spectacularly stuffed up my Uni education and have no degree - despite being smart enough to walk straight out of school into a Law degree. Ditto for the other 6 degrees I began. Yep, it was that bad. When I was 22 I started a publishing venture, which was ok - until I mucked it up. It was a failure that was completely on me - as were the two ventures after that. I mucked up one, after another, after another. People don’t know that there have been three times when our relationship was hanging by a thread – and neither of us believed it could be fixed. That I grew up with a toxic parent and I spent years trying to figure out why I was constantly ‘failing’ her. When I finally realized the problem wasn’t me, it took years of failing to stand up for myself before I found the strength to remove her from our lives. That as a teen I felt like such an abject failure that I stopped eating for a few years. And that I know what it's like to fall down that deep, dark well of depression again and again and again. To have no one to lean against and no one to talk to about it. To struggle everyday just to get out of bed – and often fail. To have no hope, no joy, no happiness - and not be able to see any point in going on.
So trust me - failure and I are good friends. Over the years, I've failed my parents, my family, my friends, and I've failed Dan. But most crushingly, I failed myself. Too many times to count. I have picked myself up off the ground and gotten back on that bloody bike so many times.
And if I can do it again, after everything that's happened, you can too. You really can. Regardless of what has happened in the past and whatever failures haunt you - keep going forward. One foot after the other. One little step at a time. Keep trying, because you can do it. Stop thinking you can't. Stop thinking about last time you mucked it up. Stop telling yourself 'it doesn't matter what you do, you'll muck it up'. Stop thinking about how scared you are, and stop all those 'What if's'. Stop thinking at all and just do it.
You might surprise yourself. And if not, you can always re-adjust and try again.
After all, with everything that happened in my 20's, I swore I'd never try another new project. But if I hadn't gotten back on the bike and tried again, if I hadn't had one more try, well, you wouldn't be reading this today. Because that 'one more try' was this blog.
I hope this post has helped you, and inspired you to keep going and keep trying and striving to achieve your dreams, and if nothing else, I hope it's proof that if you keep trying, no matter how many times you've failed, you can achieve and create something amazing. If you liked this post, please share it on Facebook and Pinterest - and hopefully it will help someone else too xx