Failure and Perfection

April 22nd, 2010

Failure of perfection. Perfection of failure. Fail again. Fail better. Make mistakes with confidence. Reach for the moon, even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.

I grew up with the expectation of perfection. All A’s in school or there better be a good reason. High test scores, do well in academic competitions. Best behavior, don’t cause trouble. Be polite and kind to everyone. Do everything to the best of your ability.

So, what happens when failure is the expectation? When the object is to push and push until you fail? When failure is the road to growth? How do I reconcile this with my ingrained desire for perfection? Which, when it comes down to it, has become a fear of failure.

Well, it’s just one more fear to overcome, then, isn’t it? What am I truly afraid of? What does failure mean? Why is it scary? Failure equates to loss, for me. Loss of face, loss of respect, loss of pride, loss of love, loss of approval. I need to rewrite this equation. Failure is the road to success. Failure is the path to learning and growth. Great things have been accomplished in the history of man through even greater failures. If I allow myself to be paralyzed by the fear of failure, I will never even try. I will never grow. I will never know what I could accomplish.

I have allowed my fear to stop me these past two weeks. I have let uncertainty and hesitation keep me from growing. I have given fear the control instead of giving it to him. I have failed to try. To top it all off, I even failed to see what was happening and to communicate it to him. Fortunately, he saw it, and he did not fail me. He turned on the light and shined it in my eyes until I could see, and kept it there until I could understand and accept and admit it.

Now I take the next step. Eyes wide open, I accept failure. I will walk out on the wire and not look down for the net. If I slip and fall, I’ll make a beautiful dive on the way down. I will, as always, do my best, but I will not let fear hold me back. I will accept the risks, enjoy both failure and success, and learn from them, too. There are things I want to do, places I want to go, experiences I want to taste, fears to overcome, limits to break.

I am so lucky and grateful to have people around me who accept me for who I am, for what I can and cannot do(this list gets smaller every day), and who push me to be better than I ever thought possible. Who, when I fall down, reach out a hand and help me back to my feet. Who believe in me, even when I am at my worst and who rejoice with me when I am at my best.

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One Response to “Failure and Perfection”

  1. […] be a perfect one, without the error and failure that is inherent to being human. We knew I have a perfectionist streak. What we did not know, is that I had gotten lost in the intoxication of the fantasy, and had […]