Fail, Fail Again, Fail Better
“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” —Samuel Beckett” ― Pema Chödrön, Fail, Fail Again, Fail Better: Wise Advice for Leaning into the Unknown
I just finishing listening to this book on my way to morning lessons. It's amazing. The author was suggested to me from one of my yoga instructors, whom hopefully you will be introduced to at a future time.
With the last few weeks of being on crutches, changing barns, changing schedules, scratching from shows because of not riding, putting out this fire, that fire, and all the fires that come with this industry... I have felt very much like I have been hitting one "roadblock" after another. It was not surprising that this title stood out to me in this moment in time. As soon as I hit play and settled into my drive, I knew I needed to hear this book.
I learn through pain.
Wait, what the?
I learn through pain.
Literally, I suppose, as I glance at my bionic leg.
Sit with that thought for a minute. Heavy isn't it? I learn through pain.
Here is the greater part: We all learn through pain. When things feel good, we enjoy it. We sit there and absorb the feelings of goodness. We don't change. Why would we? It feels good. So we don't change; we don't grow.
Only when we feel discomfort or pain do we bring awareness to wanting to change something. That hurts, I should do something different. Owwww! I'm uncomfortable, I need to grow to change that.
We all learn through pain.
The bigger problem is that (western) society tells us we shouldn't feel pain. That we shouldn't feel discomfort- there is a pill for that. If we feel pain or discomfort: there must be something wrong, we are doing something wrong, we aren't good enough, the path is wrong- have another shot.
What if we instead sat with the discomfort and turned towards it? What if we changed our perspective of pain, failure, and discomfort? What if we realized it was the only way to grow?
All of a sudden, missing that jump distance became a learning experience that you can isolate from your identity. Here's the difference:
1) "Woohoo we got around that show jumping course." 2) "Geezuz that show jumping round sucked!! I'm so embarrassed. We jumped everything but that was horrible and I suck as a rider. My horse hates me and I'm not good enough to compete." 3) "Today became apparent that my quality of canter is not as refined as I would like. That was quite challenging and I feel sad/depressed/embarrassed. What do I need to work on to not do that again?"
Three perspectives on the exact same show jumping round.
We learn though pain. We learn through mistakes. Don't be afraid to go out there and try! Push out of your comfort zone and allow yourself to get uncomfortable. Get a little uncomfortable to get comfortable. Most importantly, know that we are all doing the exact same thing, learning the exact same lessons. Be gentle with yourself and tough on your goals.
Set your intention, be prepared to fail, and fail better. I'm going to fail my way to Rolex.