This morning I am sitting with discomfort – and a mildly bruised ego. You see, last night was the annual AGM of our school’s P&C committee and elections were called for all the key positions.
I had been on the executive last year and intended to renominate this year.
The night came, and we needed to declare our intentions. To be honest, I had a bit of a bad day and was in a fair degree to pain with an ongoing back issue –so I wasn’t really in the frame of mind to be pitching my case.
I ummed and ahhed about whether to nominate, and ended up doing so at the very last minute. It had to go to a vote because there were more nominations (one more) than positions. My pitch was ordinary to say the least. On the basis of my 30second spiel, I don’t think I would have voted for me!!
You can probably work out the result from my first sentence.
So, why is this worthy of a blog post?
Because we don’t talk about failure as a positive thing. Because it feels hard to talk about failing at something. It is so much easier to talk about successes, to talk about what we have achieved. It is much harder to say- “I tried and did not succeed, and that is ok.”
I knew (very poor pitching aside) what the likely result was going to be. The other three candidates were extremely strong and polished and worthy. Taking all emotion aside, the best three people were voted in, and the school will be better off for it.
So why didn’t I withdraw at the last minute, when I knew I could? When I knew it was going to have to go to a vote, and that this would be the likely outcome. It felt like I was nine years old again, waiting to be picked (or not picked) for the netball side.
Firstly, not doing something purely because you might fail is not a good reason not to do it. Don’t do it if you don’t want to, or for other compelling reasons, but not simply because you might fail. Think Brene Brown and all that she tells us about vulnerability; about getting out in the arena of life and putting yourself out there.
Secondly, much of what I preach in my work life is about extending yourself, about doing things that are uncomfortable, about giving things a go. This sadly, was one of those times that I had to practice what I preach.
Finally, I try to teach my girls that it is about the journey, about the learning, not the outcome. Again, practice what I preach.
So, even though it doesn’t feel good this morning and my ego is a little bruised; I am sitting with the discomfort in the knowledge that it was better to have tried and failed than not to have tried because I could fail.
So the lessons learnt from all this: that it is a good idea to have a decent pitch, that often you learn more from the failures than the successes, that the ego is fragile thing, and that process of trying something without the guarantee of success is something we need to practice, despite how uncomfortable it can feel. And maybe most importantly, that if we only do what we know we will succeed at; we limit ourselves, our opportunities, our learnings in so many many ways.
Tell me about your best failure. What did you learn? If you could have your time again would you still do it?
Brene Brown’s book “Daring Greatly” remains one of the most powerful books I have read in a long time. You can buy it here: