I’ve learned that a byproduct of learning something new and different is the opportunity to fail. However, the manner in which I fail – well or poorly – is up to me. Let me back up and provide some context here:
As I have previously mentioned, I’ve set a couple of big goals for myself, and I have made pretty decent headway into the first goal. Before I got started, I asked someone for advice – a person who has walked a similar path, but is much further ahead – and this is what she said:
It will challenge you, you will doubt yourself and your ability to do it, but if you just keep working at it, it will change you. You will get good at it. Take your time, be patient, be persistent and everything else will fall in line!
She was definitely right!
At first, the prospect of learning something new was quite exciting. In some respects, I’m fairly out of my depth (learning anatomy has been an interesting challenge), but because I can relate what I’m learning to my own life and body, I was motivated to continue. I saw so many direct and personal applications that I continued to stay the course.
And naturally, I like to do well. So my first attempt – let’s just call it a pop quiz of sorts – I performed pretty well (I even crafted a post on it last week, I believe). I thought to myself, “I’m getting the hang of this!”
Sometimes, you just don’t know what you don’t know. Last week was level 1, and this week, the intensity racheted up to level 10 (and will continue to increase at a nearly exponential pace, it seems).
So there was another opportunity for a pop quiz today, but more constraints (and expectations) were put on each person. I wasn’t totally clear on the directions, and not much guidance was provided. I did the best that I could, but didn’t exactly feel fantastic about what I had put together at that point.
Naturally, I thought that I would have the benefit of time – that another person would be asked to go before me, right? Nope! I was called upon to go first. “Great,” I lamented.
So I’m probably being harder on myself than I need to be, but in light of my success from the previous week, my less-than-stellar-performance today was disappointing. I thought to myself, “What happened?”
I then recalled that failure – even smallish ones – can be most instructive. With the right perspective, these experiences can often be remarkable teachers, and so I decided to change my mindset on the situation.
After all, what I learned from this experience will make me better in the future. If I choose to interpret what happened in this way, then this misstep was a small detour on my way to success.
Here is what I learned from my “fail well” experience today:
- When I’m not clear on expectations, it’s always best to seek clarification (rather than making assumptions).
- Perfection isn’t the goal here. Learning is. And we often learn more from our mistakes than we do from our successes.
- I am in the middle of a process, and what I’m feeling today – as predicted by the woman whose quote I shared earlier – is neither unique to me nor unexpected. It’s a journey and process like so many other aspects of life, and I need to accept that things will change for the better as I learn and continue to grow.
I already feel better, come to think of it. I simply needed a way to channel my thoughts in a deliberate, but not overly emotional way. It’s like climbing a mountain – not that I’ve ever done that – when you are at the base of the mountain, the summit seems awfully far away and difficult to access. The only way to assure success is to keep climbing, and make sure you know how to use the equipment that you’ve brought along the way!
Dear Lord, I’m actually thankful that I had this opportunity to fail well today. In the moment, my lackluster performance stung a bit, but I can now better appreciate the change in perspective that I needed to make. As You know, what I am doing is not easy; others have gone before me, and my frustrations and challenges are not unique to me. Learning something new and different is challenging, because only then am I forced to recognize the limitations of what I actually do know.
Being a student in any shape or form can be quite humbling, but if I really embrace the opportunity to learn, grow, and change, the experience can be life-changing (it already has been, if I’m honest).
This whole experience has been a tremendous gift, and I look forward in hope to the time when – with Your support and guidance – I finally make it to the summit! In Jesus’s name I pray, Amen.