“There is no such thing as failure. Failure is just life trying to move us in another direction.” ~Oprah
I had a shocker of a time in my early 20’s. Shocking but utterly brilliant at the same time.
It started when I decided, half way through a 6-month work contract in Greece, that I should split up with my then boyfriend of over 4 years. I won’t go into the details of why, but it really is true when they say that one day you can just wake up and not love someone anymore. And then completely despise them. That was pretty awkward.
Anyway, this was maybe not one of my wisest ideas as doing this then meant I had nowhere to live, I was in a foreign country, and I still needed to complete my contract. As a sports entertainer no less.
Did I have any experience of this I hear you say? No I did not. I winged it like I did with most things — and it mostly paid off. In the height of the summer season, I had around 50 people in the hotel pool doing aqua aerobics with me. I’d picked up the moves from various YouTube videos and just hoped for the best. Naturally, as I became more confident in my own abilities, I decided that a career change was in order when I got home. New me and all that.
I was going to become a fitness instructor.
Making a move
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I am a job hopper by nature. If something is no longer serving me well, I get rid. This applies to most aspects of my life. But when I really want something, I go for it, and this time I decided to pay a fair few hundred pounds to complete a fitness course in Manchester City Centre.
The course itself was pretty good. I did get slightly concerned when there appeared to be a few people there a lot more experienced than myself — an already qualified Zumba instructor for example. But, I didn’t let it phase me. I was gonna rock it.
Cut a long story short, after turning up to the warehouse on examination day, just as an illegal rave was apparently ending and I bumped into a few worse for wear people on my way in,…I failed. I did the routine I’d spent all week preparing for, and I bloody flunked it.
P.S. Zumba instructor also failed so I wasn’t alone.
My now husband was waiting outside to pick me up (bearing in mind it was over an hour’s drive to get there) and I got ready to tell him that I’d failed.
I’d never failed an exam in my life so this was a first. And it was actually strangely liberating. I got in the car and I told him. He didn’t believe me at first but soon we were both laughing — at the combination of the fitness exam and my recent time in Greece that had led me here.
Since then, I’ve failed at loads of things. I’ve failed job interviews, I failed at becoming a lawyer, and I’ve failed in various other different career choices.
So why am I telling you all this?
Because it’s OKAY to fail.
It’s always going to happen
At least once in your life, you’re going to fail at something. So you might as well go all in. To be honest I wish I’d done something epic to make my failures a bit more dramatic. But on a serious note, all the most successful people in this world have failed at something — Oprah Winfrey, Walt Disney and Steve Jobs to name but a few.
You become less afraid
I spent my entire life being absolutely terrified of failure. I stayed up until 3 am studying for my legal exams and tortured myself for the next few months before results came out, convincing myself I’d failed. When I passed, it was such a relief — but these are the kinds of feelings that hold you back. Who gives a damn if you fail. Don’t play it safe, do something extraordinary, and one day it might just pay off.
It makes you stronger
What’s that well-known phrase…fall down 7 times, get up 8? Failure makes you stronger and develops your resilience. Don’t let it break you or stop you from doing the things you want to do. Whilst the ship has long since sailed on my fitness instructor goals — because I developed new ones instead — that’s not to say I might not revisit it in the future. Just possibly down the yoga route which is a little less of an intense workout.
Just whatever you do, don’t give up on your dreams, whatever they may be.
You discover new paths
This is the biggest lesson I’ve taken from my failures. I’ve realised that the paths I’ve been on weren’t the right ones for me, and that’s okay. Everything you do in life leads you to a different destination. This is why you should never have regrets, because everything you do puts you on the path to where you are today, and you have the power to change the direction of that path at any time you choose.
“Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker. Failure is delay, not defeat. It is a temporary detour, not a dead end. Failure is something we can avoid only by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.”~Denis Waitley