My first taste of failure was my driving test.
I’d taken 20 lessons and my instructor thought I was good enough to do the test… he was wrong. Big time!
I waited in the test centre and eventually the examiner appeared. ‘Surname?’ he commanded, peering over his glasses for just long enough to make me temporary forget my name. ‘Alidina’ I eventually replied, in as friendly a tone as I could muster…hey, I hadn’t heard of mindfulness at this point!
We got in the car, and I fumbled with the key before driving out of the car park and on the road. Within minutes, he hit the brakes using the dual control. The car came to a screeching halt. Screeeeeechhhhhhhh (ok, I’m being dramatic). He turned to me and said ‘You need to stop at a red light signal. Where you going to stop?’ ‘No….oh….oooops’ I replied. I hadn’t noticed the temporary traffic light…which was unfortunately showing red...apparently.
I failed the test..
That’s my first strong memory of a failure…and wasn’t my last failure by any means.
I failed my second driving test too. It was because somebody else also doing a driving test pulled out in front of me…we both failed that one!
I eventually passed. I’ve been driving safely ever since, so you can relax if I ever give you a lift… :)
Failing my driving test was the first of a series of failures in life. And as I’ve failed more in life, I’ve begun to embrace the experience.
I’m writing about failure due to a book I’ve been reading.
The book is called ‘Creative Confidence’. It’s by IDEO founder and Stanford d school creator David Kelley and his brother Tom Kelley, a partner at IDEO. IDEO is one of the world's leading innovation and design firms. In the book, the brothers share the importance of failure in success. They remind us of Thomas Edison and his many failed attempted to design the light bulb. They also cite loads of examples of people that were considered creative geniuses - and how they actually achieve this through LOTS of failed attempts.
I believe failure and success go hand in hand. The more you fail, the more you succeed.
And what is failure anyway? If I did go through that red light during that test, I may not even be alive to write this…surely that was a success!
This very post is written by embracing failure. I don’t think of myself as a writer at all, and my English teacher through I was pretty average.
However, I’ve sold over 100,000 books now. And my last book, The Mindful Way through Stress, was published by the renowned Guilford Press, who have published mindfulness books by Professor Mark Williams and Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn. I’m proud of that. That took some guts and a willingness to embrace possible failure.
So, my dear friends, I urge you to have a go and fail at something.
Is it scary? Yes. But attempting something new is empowering too, with this attitude.
Start with a small failure. Something that only you’d know about, perhaps.
Then keep failing, knowing that failure doesn’t actually exist. it’s something we create in our minds.
Do trees think they failed when they don’t grow straight?
Do lakes feel they failed when they are murky rather than crystal clear.
Do kids give up if they fall over when trying to walk?
Did you give up when you couldn't be bothered to read this post any more? ;-)
To learn is to fail.
And so, to succeed is to fail.
In my next post, I’ll be sharing a new definition of failure, and 6 easy steps to overcome good old failure.
Until then dear friends.
PS - Today is last day for application for Teach Mindfulness 2.0 at a discounted rate.