There are so many things that can make you want to stop trying. Perhaps life feels like a string of disappointments, other people are constantly letting you down, or you’ve simply found yourself in a place that’s different than what you expected. Maybe the people around you don’t seem to be matching your effort and so if they aren’t going to change, why should you? But in the wise words of Nelson Mandela, “There is no passion to be found in playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” When we stop trying, when we give up, we are relinquishing our power to write our own story.
It is inevitable, you will fail, and consequently the task is to separate the failures from your identity. Being human means failing often. In truth, human history is characterized by more failures than successes, and this is good. It is how we learn resilience in the face of adversity and to accept that we will never fully be in control. Avoiding failure is not the major key, it is our response to failure that we must give the most concern. In learning to fail forward and validate our efforts, we build the courage to repeat the process.
There is no shame in repetition, in having to begin again at anything in life. There is no glory in being a “one hit wonder” or magically conquering something the first time. Most often, we place less value on the accomplishments and relationships that came without effort.
I often equate repetition with run training. When you first set out your body is in total shock, you may even ask yourself “why am I doing this”. Yet deep within, you know that each time you show up your body will respond, you will become stronger, and you will build your endurance. More importantly, with each new race, you come to the starting line as a different person. You are willing to embrace the course, you know more about how to navigate a hill, or how to pace yourself so you don’t bonk.
In so many ways, life runs in a very similar parallel. It is a race that requires us to keep trying, to push through failures, and to repeatedly work towards our definition of success. It humbles us, and at other times it causes injury, but if persistent it also offers us a chance to do what we once thought was impossible. Perhaps, the truest secret of success is found through our failures. It is found in our willingness TO TRY….TO FAIL….TO REPEAT. It is found in brushing ourselves off and recognizing that we don’t lose or fail, we either win or we learn.