Sometimes I think the universe is trying to tell me something.
Or at least that’s what I thought this past weekend when I went to see an aerial show and one of the performers handed me this note as the audience settled into their seats.
“Dare to fail, fail better.”
It’s possible that the performer handed me that scrap of paper because she recognized me as the student who once screamed her way through every trick during a beginner class a year ago.
But I prefer to think the note was a sign. And not a very subtle one at that.
It’s been years since I took a risk… Five, to be exact, since I quit my job and moved to Nigeria armed only with a vague job description and some very good intentions.
I had a six-month contract to provide marketing and communications support for a non-profit that specialized in HIV/AIDS education and awareness-building. I lasted just under four months. It was the first time I ever failed at anything of real significance.
Even though I convinced myself at the time that leaving was the right thing to do and I can rationalize the decision now, part of me wishes that I stuck it out – if only to prove that I could.
But I didn’t. I quit. In and out in 100 days.
There are a million cliches that people recite in the face of failure.
“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.”
– Robert F. Kennedy
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
– Thomas A. Edison
“Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”
– Winston Churchill
“The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.”
– Henry Ford
I can tell you that if you ever failed, really failed, then those quotes won’t do a thing to make you feel any better.
And while some people seem to be able to recover quickly and are happy to try again, I’m not one of them. Which is why it’s been five years since I did anything that could end in a similar level of disaster.
But that’s going to change. I might not be going back to Nigeria, but I’m ready for a risk.
And the universe agrees.