Leaning into failure to learn how to succeed.

I’ve thought about failure for as long as I can remember. I used to say that my parents’ saying was: “You can do anything we put your mind to.” There was this entitlement to success that led me to a mindset that I CAN do anything I put my mind to. But when failure started happening, as is inevitable when you’re trying to achieve great things, I began to shy away from activities that presented a real threat of failure. Why endeavor to achieve great things when the “good self” might be tarnished or threatened in the process?

Then as a young engineer learning about photography, I came across this blogger named Hank Greenspun. This was still in the days of print negatives and he said that in a roll of 32 frames, he targeted 1 or 2 successes. Any more, and he knew he didn’t push the boundaries enough - he didn’t risk enough. Any less, and he knew he wasn’t being mindful enough - he was just clicking the shutter button.

This got me thinking about failure as a managed outcome of endeavor. That the will to achieve great things must invariably collide with the ugly reality of failure. How to manage that has been a thing I’ve been thinking about for all of my adult life.

Fast forward to today, in my therapy practice. I’ve been looking to restart my solo private practice for many years and now, my fears have become real. Failure is a real possibility. The only way I concluded that I could actually move forward is to lean into failure as that possibility and realize, slowly, that my “good self” would not be annhiliated by the endeavor to do a great thing. That’s how 100 days of failure was born.

100 days of failure begins now.