Looking Failure in the Face and Moving Forward

Down a hole Up a tree - Jeffery Thompson
“Down a Hole / Up a Tree” – scratch board by Jeffery Thompson – Click image to learn more

I spent several hours preparing for the session. I had all the printouts ready; I had everything set up. And there I sat in an empty room. Twenty minutes had gone by and it was apparent no one was coming. Big sigh.

Leading these weekly creative sessions is a brand new endeavor for me.  I’ve had to walk into it knowing that it’s possible that the experiment will fail, but being hopeful about learning through it and finding success. Several people came to the first session, but at the second session it was just me, myself, and I sitting in a room listening to the whir of heater air and the traffic outside the windows.

It’s not that other people don’t want this, or that it’s a bad idea, but there are probably some details to tweak with the model or how I’m communicating or the location or the time. I’m figuring all that out through the experience itself.

This is hard: taking risks and opening yourself up to the possibility of failure.

Some people downplay the word “failure” or say, “don’t think about failing and you won’t.” Failure, though, is necessary to acknowledge and to experience.  It has also opened up opportunities for me to learn, to test myself, and to evaluate my desires and interests.

What are you doing that risks the possibility of failure? What helps you look failure in the face and move forward with new hope?

For me, I’m going to try again, and take it as a learning experience no matter what will come; I’ll re-think and re-evaluate and take a more honest look at what I want.

(For more Scoutie Girl goodness on failure, read Brittni Mehlhoff’s article on The 5 Steps to Moving on from Failure.)

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The new sessions I’ve started are called Resurge Groups. See www.meetup.com/resurgegroups for more information. Maybe it generates a new idea for you!

11 thoughts on “Looking Failure in the Face and Moving Forward

  1. Amen! I could not agree more. Thanks for being so honest, it sure is a vulnerable feeling to fail especially in a creative area where you are putting your whole self out there! I did a little series on sewing failure on my blog http://ahappystitch.com/category/fail-friday/
    and I purposely used the word failure, even though it’s heavy. better to own it and learn from it than pretend it never happened! Love “failure is necessary to acknowledge and experience”.

    1. Melissa… thanks for your comment. So often I don’t pursue things because of my fear of failure… but lately I’m learning that failure IS necessary, small and big. I love your FAIL FRIDAYS on your blog. And really love this quote: never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat ~~f. scott fitzgerald / Thanks!

  2. I’m in a sad sort of mood today — so reading this today allowed me to feel your vulnerability and the sitting there in that room, waiting for the people who never came. I know you didn’t tell this story for sympathy, but empathy wings from your words and from me back to you. That is one of our deepest “fears” — that we’ll throw a party and no one will come. And then what? We questions ourselves, we question other people and it has the potential to make us feel unworthy. I love your open honesty here and the sharing of how you look forward from this. And if I’m being honest with myself today — it’s that worry, that dread, that “what if” that has been holding me back. I’m the one who has put up the walls in not moving forward or “trying” so it’s up to me to dismantle that. Thank you Megan for sharing this.

    1. Thanks, Sherry. I can consume myself with the “what-ifs,” too. And they often keep me from doing things I might really enjoy or want to do. Moving forward in the midst of that is so hard! I hope you get a chance to dismantle your walls and move forward in a few things where you “what-if”ing.

  3. I wouldn’t call this a failure as much as it is a setback. A failure is when you give up on the idea entirely and walk away. You merely got a result from your experiment that you didn’t expect, so you will retool and try again. That’s what a scientist would do, right? Why can’t the same apply to creatives?

    1. Hi Dave. Thanks for your comments and thoughts. I thought about this actually. I initially wrote this post as “Looking Setbacks in the Face and Moving Forward.” However, then I revised, because I felt it necessary to embrace that a certain part of my project had failed, but that doesn’t mean I can’t move forward. Lately I feel I need to be ok with failure. Although I see merit to both perspectives, for me accepting failure means that I’m getting past it, learning from it, and moving on. For me, this experience wasn’t a setback; it was a small failure which I needed to come to terms with and accept the fear that came with it, and learn and change my perspective: then it became a “set-forward.” All in how you best think about it I guess.

    1. I appreciate this perspective, Cowgirl… It’s failure if you don’t try and live your passion. Sometimes it’s plain hard though! But so helpful to have encouragement to get past our fears. Thanks.

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