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Ideas, Questions


When was the last time you tried something – in life, in work, in a relationship – that had a legitimate [key word] shot of failing?

Really, stop for a second and try to remember…

Where did the idea come from?
What did it feel like to try, knowing you could likely fail?
Was it worth the risk?
Why has it been so long since it’s happened again?

I think most of us get to a point in life (or work, or relationships) where we think we know what works and what doesn’t.  Where what’s “always” succeeded is reliable, permanent, safe, and as good as it’s ever going to get.

That makes sense because when you’re engaged in things that matter, the risk of failing is high.  That kind of risk creates pressure and pressure creates fear and fear convinces us to play it safe, doing what’s “always” worked.

But maybe the risk of not being willing to fail is even higher than failing itself.  Maybe the truth is that if you’re not willing to fail, you’re never going to succeed.

Or maybe success is a stupid, unattainable, inaccurate label of what we’re really striving for.  Maybe the risk of failing creates spaces and experiences for us to grow, learn, share and ponder life’s most interesting complexities and connections.  Success or failure aside, that’s what I want to spend my time, resources and energy being a part of.

So today, try something that you think may fail. Maybe it’s having a conversation with the homeless person outside the grocery store.  Maybe it’s running a mile for the first time in your whole life.  Maybe it’s creating a new position in your company or rearranging the furniture in your house.  Maybe it’s starting a blog or writing your own novel.  Maybe it’s calling up a friend you haven’t spoken to in years and inviting her to coffee.  Maybe it’s taking up ceramics or letting a new associate be the boss for the day.  Maybe it’s finally asking that someone out on a date.  Maybe it’s putting your house on the market or applying for your dream job in a different city.

Whatever it is, it only counts if there’s a legitimate chance you could fail.  Try it, and let me know how it goes.


About Samantha Curley

Hi! My name is Samantha Curley. I live in Pasadena, California where I run a non-profit organization called Level Ground (onlevelground.org). I like to ponder, ask questions, and share stories about life, art, and faith.


One thought on “Failing.

  1. Sam– great post. Made me think and spoke a great deal to where I’ve been attempting to live….in the questions..in the risks…in a place where I have less control. I hope you’re well, it was great to see you, even for a short bit, in Colorado. I’m curious what some of your answers are in this question….I ran my first half marathon this past weekend, but am now looking for another impossible risk of “what if?”. Thanks!

    Posted by Kristi | September 22, 2010, 3:56 PM

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