“We pay a heavy price for our fear of failure. It is a powerful obstacle to growth. It assures the progressive narrowing of the personality and prevents exploration and experimentation. There is no learning without some difficulty and fumbling. If you want to keep on learning, you must keep on risking failure – all your life.”
– John W. Gardner
Whew! That is a deep and powerful quote. And I have read and re-read this quote so many times trying to embrace this thought. What is it with “fear of failure”. It affects so many people. It seems we don’t attempt things that are hard or out of our comfort zone so we can avoid failure. Then we beat ourselves up because we are avoiding these perceived hard things, and simultaneously we numb any pain or discomfort that the avoidance and failure are causing.
How do I know all this? I am a pro when it comes to the fear of failure. When I started as an educator, I had to overcome the fear of failure, or I was doomed to never fulfilling my dream. It was hard especially since I had to sub for a few years before I could find a job. And a lot of the skills you need to be a good teacher are not always taught in college….they are on the job training.
And then as a gardener and a writer/blogger I again had to look fear in the face as I started down these new paths. Let’s face it when you start anything new, you put your self esteem on the line because you are going to fail. You can’t escape failure and you shouldn’t want to.
Of course when we make mistakes and fail, we can feel low, beat ourselves up, quit or we can decide not to even try. And what a shame that would be. But even with the fear of failure looming, I continued to teach, build my skills, make mistakes, learn, build more skills, master some, and on and on. The same happened with gardening and writing….but I never quit.
Oh there were days I wanted to, but I am pig-headed stubborn. I don’t like to throw up my hands and accept defeat. So I dig in, figure out what went wrong, how I could do better, work hard at it and build on the successes. But those successes would never have happened if I hadn’t failed. Failure is one of the best teachers I have ever had. And failure is essential for innovation.
I recently read a very interesting quote:
“The fastest way to succeed is to double your rate of failure.”
Think about it. To succeed quickly you have to put yourself out there and try more and more…and accept failure over and over learning, growing moving slowly but surely ahead. So I have decided to not only fail, but fail more. In failing, I know I am learning so much that I can’t help but succeed. So where do I plan to double my rate of failure:
The veg garden is the perfect place to guarantee failure. Every year I add a new bed and new veggies. No I am not successful with everything I have previously grown, but still I add more. I have had failures of whole crops, mediocre harvests and bounties. But if I want a variety of organic fruits and veggies, then I have to grow them as they are not readily available in my area.
I love to experiment with organic fertilizers, different seeds, soils, combinations/companion plants and oh so many other ideas. And this year, due to limited space, I am constructing arches in a couple of beds that will grow viney veggies like pumpkins, squash and watermelons over other veggies growing in the same bed like garlic, lettuces, carrots and beets. I have no idea if the fencing we purchased will support the veggies, but we can’t know until we try.
Adding native plants is another perfect place to fail. There is so much to learn about your local habitat, growing conditions, finding starter plants and getting the plants to survive or not take over the entire garden that you almost feel like you are back in science class constantly having to study for pop quizzes. Then if you want to divide or propagate your own natives, you better find, coaches, classes, books and blogs to help as this is beyond my high school biology class training. But when it works, the garden is gorgeous.
Attracting critters to the garden can be a nightmare sometimes. What plants do they need for food, shelter and nesting? If I have a pond will I get frogs, toads, dragonflies, snakes, ducks, herons, songbirds and other interesting critters, and can they play together nicely?
And boy are you inviting failure when birds are nesting. We are in the middle of mating season here and as the birds pair off, there are fights for mates, fights for nesting boxes (which may not be spaced far enough apart or facing the right way) and now 1 robin is fighting the windows of the house as she thinks she sees another robin trying to take her prime nesting spot….it has become a nightmare for her and us. And we are learning, experimenting and failing as we try to find solutions to make us both happy.
Following the “rules” of gardening chores can be confusing. Do I cut everything to the ground or do I leave up seedheads for critters and grasses for a stunning winter display? And if those grasses attract voles, well you know what can happen as my recent post showed, utter destruction. So what to do. Every fall I experiment trying to get the perfect balance, and every spring I see the failures.
So don’t be surprised if you see more posts, a different series of ideas and new interests on the blog. I am entering into a new phase of experimentation particularly around creativity, design and art. Who knows where it will all lead, but I know it will first lead to more failure, and I for one am looking forward to it. And that will be new for me.
What is your relationship with failure? Do you fear it? Or do you have a particular way to deal with failure?
“I’ve come to believe that all my past failure and frustration were actually laying the foundation for the understandings that have created the new level of living I now enjoy.” ~Tony Robbins
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Heather was kind enough to send me a second book for the giveaway so there are 2 winners:
- Denise-a NY state gardener on Long Island who writes a blog for her local online newspaper
Thank you all for visiting and commenting.
Next up on the blog: Next Monday will be May already. My goodness spring is flying by and I will have a Garden Journal post. Later next week will be time to check in with the tree I am following.
I am linking in with Michelle@Rambling Woods for her Nature Notes meme. It is a great way to see what is happening in nature around the world every Tuesday.
I can also be found blogging once a month at Vision and Verb. I will be posting again on April 30th.
As always, I’ll be joining Tootsie Time’s Fertilizer Friday.
I am also joining in I Heart Macro with Laura@Shine The Divine that happens every Saturday.
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