Nov08

Tell me your story of failure and here is mine

Posted by: Naz Laila

I know you have many wonderful stories of your amazing life. Stories of achieving your goals, securing your dream job, working hard and getting the perfect score, finding your soul mate, creating a successful business, writing a best seller book, making your parents proud and so on.  These are terrific stories, and I am sure you will be excited to share them.

But today I want you to tell me your other stories. The one that is not so great.

The one, which fills you with fear and shame. The story of your greatest failure and terrible mistakes.

Tell me the story when you failed because you didn’t try hard enough. Also tell me about your heartache when you have tried your best, yet you have failed.

Tell me about the mistake you have made because you were young and didn’t know enough. Also share with me about the mistake you have made when should have known better.

Be Brave

It is easy to share your story of a failed business venture when you have already built an emperor, but it takes enormous courage to share the failure while you are struggling with it. And I want you to practice courage today. Your courage will give someone else the voice to tell his or her own story.

I know shame and fear of judgement will try to keep you away from showing up with these difficult stories and I fell into that trap as well.

For a long time my concept of failure and mistake existed only in the stories of great and successful people. Failure, even in it’s tiniest form was so humiliating and degrading in the culture I grew up with that I have never dared to try something that I was not very good at it. I associated my self worth with the grade of my exams.

When I moved to Australia, one of the biggest cultural shocks was, to see people trying new things and accepting failure as part of the process. I didn’t know how to embrace that attitude.

I continued to live my life with the fear of facing failure at some point in my life. That fear pushed me to become a perfectionist. An enormous amount of stress and anxiety were my companion in that journey for many years until it ended last year when I failed a small component of my medical specialist exam. I worked hard for that test and I was quite confident that it would be fine, yet I failed.

Facing my biggest nightmare brought the most surprising gift.  I felt liberated from the pressure of being perfect. I could finally give myself the permission to try new things, to create art and to accept my imperfect self. I started to change the way I define my success.

My fear about failure was rooted in the long held believe that failure will take away my sense of belonging. It will make me unworthy of love and respect. Now I  know that the deepest connections are created when you trust somebody and your honest raw stories are the essential part to create that trust. The tale of your struggle can empower as many people as your story of triumph could.

So my friend, today BE BRAVE and share your story with the world. I also want you to be gentle and kind to yourself as this process of owing your failure is a difficult journey. If you feel little scared that’s ok too (I guarantee you are not alone).

On another rough day, when failure will strike me hard and discouragement and hopelessness will try to suffocate me, I will come back to your story and YES YOUR STORY MATTERS.

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With Love and Gratitude,

Naz

12 comments

  • Anni May Jensen

    I failed at gaining full time perminant work… which I am actually glad about now! Over a three year period I applied for 20 positions, gained many interviews but never a phone call to say I had the job. Don’t get me wrong, even though I am glad I never received ‘that’ call now, during this time it was gut wrenching and feelings of failure prevailed. I felt I was never quite good enough, though I knew I was a worthwhile to employ. I see my failure now as a blessing in disguise as I would have just gone from a contract position in administration that I did not like to a permanent position in administration that I would not like!

    • Naz Laila

      Anny, it is so brave of you to share your story. I am so happy that you did not let your failure to define you , rather you had the strength to see the brighter side of the story. So glad to know about your journey.

  • Emma

    I failed at singing. I was never brave enough to sing in public. I thought it was important that I should be able to, but now I don’t think so.

    • Naz Laila

      Emma, thanks a lot for sharing your story. Often we give our weakness or failure much more importance than what they deserve and I have made that mistake many times.

  • Laly Mille

    Hi sweet Naz
    One of my recent failure stories (one that still hurts a bit) is about a painting I have spent hours, weeks working on this year, one that meant a lot to me, with the portrait of a girl, one that I never managed to complete. The face just never came right and since then I’ve felt unable to try another portrait. I know it can seem silly, and the silliness makes it even worse. So I’m determined to start working hard on portraits very soon to overcome the fear!
    xoxo Laly

    • Naz Laila

      Oh Dear Laly, it is really very brave of you to share your story. I have always adored beautiful faces in your paintings. But sometimes certain things are not meant to be the way you want. I am sure you will be creating magic with beautiful portrait very soon and you are Stronger than your Fear.

  • Judy

    I fail at being a very good visual and spatial learner. My geography is very poor and I am very bad with directions.

    • Naz Laila

      Judy so glad that you are here and sharing your story. I am also a very bad spatial learner. GPS has saved my sanity and yes I still get lost following my GPS.

  • Shannon

    Naz, I love the Neil Gaiman quote. I’ve been a fan of his work for many years and was excited to hear that a new Sandman is coming out.

    Great insight: “failure will take away my sense of belonging.”

    I failed at portion control and healthy eating today. This is one of my biggest challenges right now.

    • Naz Laila

      Shannon, I have been a great fan of Neil Gaiman for sometimes. I am very grateful that you have shared you story. Now I get the courage to share that I have been struggling with getting some regular exercise done and eating healthy for sometimes.

  • susi masarweh

    Naz – wonderful, thought provoking and moving post. Thank you.

    I have failed to live up to the image created of me by others at work. It has been a difficult lesson to learn that what we do (or don’t do) today creates lessons for tomorrow. Now, the challenge is to determine if I have what it takes to continue on this path, or if I have to create a new one. a work in progress…

  • Debbie Howard

    Yep! you are so right. It is our failures that help us to succeed. Even Albert Einstein said, “I have not failed, I have just found 10,0000 ways that don’t work.” That is definitely how we should all view failure. I know that I fail plenty of times but I think that what makes us stand out from the crowd is when we get back up dust ourselves off and try again with our new wisdom learned from our mistakes. Great job on your blog. Keep flying high sister.
    Blessings
    Debbie Howard

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