Updated: Jan 8, 2019
I was taking a look at my photos this morning when I noticed, “wow, I have a lot of videos of me failing squats.” I looked over the footage, and actually found myself laughing at all the gym fails I’ve collected. A year ago, I probably would have felt very differently about watching myself fall over and over again. But I had a much less epic mindset last year. A lot has changed.
A year ago, I look at different aspects of where I was in life–strength, family, career, money. I realize there’s one common denominator: I never failed. I never failed at anything. I don’t have a single squat fail video on my phone, and I actually boasted about never having failed a lift in my life. I never feared that I would overdraw my account, or that I wouldn’t have enough to pay rent. I never failed to spend enough time with my child. I showed up to my job everyday, was always punctual, though I hated it, and never failed to service enough sessions.
I never, ever failed.
But what I realize now about that time in my life was that I rarely tried things I didn’t know I could do. The reason I never failed a squat was because I never put a bar on my shoulders that I wasn’t sure I could lift. I never invested a huge amount of money in myself personally or professionally, because I could get by with what I had. I never had to think about the desperation of making something work financially because I wouldn’t entertain the possibility of failing. It never occurred to me to start my own business, or even apply for a promotion at my job. I didn’t think I was capable of either of these things, and besides, by staying where I was, I wasn’t risking failure.
My goal in life was not to fail, but it wasn’t to succeed.
When I put a bar on my back now, there are days when it feels easy, and there are days in my program that I know I have to attempt an increase, even if I don’t think I can do it. But I’ve learned how to fall, I know what it feels like. It’s not as big and scary and dramatic as I imagined it was a year ago.
I had been so afraid of falling that I never tried to do anything outside of my known capacity. I never attempted a weight that was scary to me, but now I do it all the time, and I can do more every week. And it’s not just been lifting where I realize I’d been limiting myself for so long. I’ve been placing limits on my entire life.
After so many months and years of hating my steady, stable job, I started my own gym. So many people believed in me and encouraged me to do it, but the fear of losing everything kept me from my true potential for so long. I’ve made huge investments in my education and business, knowing that there is no safety net. No, I have to make this work or I’m fucked and my family is fucked. But every month goes by and the bills are paid, there is food on the table, and the business continues to grow. There is no other way for me but to succeed, even if it means taking risks and facing failures along the way.
If you aren’t failing in life, it’s because you’re only doing things you know you can do. I understand that stability and safety are hard to challenge, especially when we have children or other family who depend on us. There are a lot of things you know you can do, and it’s easy to do those things everyday and play it safe. Just the thought of attempting something you aren’t guaranteed to succeed in can make you want to buckle down and work harder at your desk job. But think about all the things that you CAN do that you haven’t discovered you can do yet. Why are you holding yourself back? Get comfortable with failing at things. Growth is painful and failure is a necessary part of it. Learn how to fail, learn what it feels like, so that it won’t be such a scary thing anymore. When you are familiar with failure, it’s no longer the insurmountable obstacle to everything you want in life. There is a whole world of things out there that you CAN do, go out and find out what they are.