In the year after college, my friends and I decided to start giving each month a theme. There was Anything Goes January (not all that much “went” for the innocent crew we were), followed by Freedom February and Meditation March… you get the idea.
This year - older, wiser (?), and often kinder to myself, I’d like to propose a new title for February... Fun with Failure!
I could tell you all about Albert Einstein, JK Rowling, or Denzel Washington (the later two have excellent speeches here).
Chances are, you’ve already heard a lot of stories like this. But as much as we often know intellectually that failure is good for us, it’s hard to greet the sinking feeling of plans gone awry with open arms. We tend to distract ourselves, blame others, or devolve until self-criticism. It may hurt more than the disappointment itself, but at least it’s in our “control.”
And so, I propose a project for the month: fail once a day. This doesn’t mean to sabotage yourself, but it does mean to put yourself in situations where you don’t know you’ll succeed. Ask someone out, crack on a high note, yell out a window, make an awkward joke on Zoom… you get the idea.
The most important part of this project, though, is what happens afterwards - which is a Celebratory Silly Dance. You may shout “yes, failure!” if this is possible in your location. OR it can be a subtle, internal, “yes” and silly dance. But know this: the more we can welcome failure, the more we can take the risks necessary for success. So the slightest moment of getting to know that uncomfortable feeling is of great value.
“HOW DOES THIS RELATE TO SPEAKING?” You ask.
We don’t remember speakers who are sleek. We remember speakers who got out on a limb and show us their humanity. Otherwise, we would just read the information - it’s much faster.
Before bed each night, you can ask “when did I fail today?” Perhaps jot it down, and celebrate that you are living a life of passion and growth, that you’re creating a story worth telling.
(And yes, I do write the blog posts that I myself most need to read!)