Last week I shared an experience that I had when I was child that taught me a lot about failing. In that post, I talked about my father painstakingly teaching me to write out my address neatly on a mailing envelope, and how my determination to do it unaided revealed a bit of a character flaw in me that I’ve decided to explore more in depth over the next few weeks on my blog. As I do further reflection on this incident, I find it odd that I didn’t just rip the envelope (shameful evidence of my mistake) into pieces and throw it in the garbage. While I could certainly blame extreme paranoia, deep down I think I had a nagging desire to hold on to my mistake, to keep it hidden.
Isn’t it funny how we do this in life? There’s a comfort and a torture in holding on to what didn’t work out. It’s almost like a private shrine that we hold on to that reminds us to be careful and our prayers to it wind up being things like, “don’t take that risk again; remember what happened last time.” But at what point do we let go and really do something with the mistake? Where is the impetus for change? As mortified as I was about my father finding the botched envelope, him finding it was actually a blessing in disguise because it forced me to deal with the fact that not only had I messed up, but that I had tried to cover it up.
Too often in life we make mistakes and instead of examining the failure, we sweep it under the rug. With others seemingly unaware of what we’re hiding, there’s little incentive for us to address what went wrong and make adjustments so that our future attempts are more successful.
Now of course my 7-year-old brain didn’t compute this at the time. All that registered to me was that I was “in trouble.” But as a 32-year-old woman, when I think back to my father’s disappointment, I realize that it most likely was not about me messing up a few lines on a piece of paper. He was upset with me because I tried to hide it from him.
Admitting that you’ve failed takes courage, but being open to sharing that failure with someone we respect and love and being open to receiving feedback takes vulnerability.
This year I’m really going to make an attempt to be vulnerable and expose more of my shortcomings so that I can get the feedback, love, and support that I need to move forward and achieve what I was destined to achieve.
Will you join me?