Failure

I was asked, recently, what is my take on failure. It’s a bit of a dual one. I honestly, deeply, to the core of my being believe that failure is good, and necessary, and an important part of how we learn.
At the same time, I have a fear of failure. A big one. Not sure how it compares to the average person, because I suspect most people are pretty damned afraid of failure, which is why we usually play it safe. Tiffany, a recent acquaintance who lives in Geneva, definitely had the quote of the blog post: “Anything that’s worth doing should scare you just a little bit.”
Right? I mean who wants to be in a job where you are never challenged, or in a relationship where you aren’t that attached? Sure, you have the security that you are never going to be caught out not knowing what you’re doing and possibly lose your job, or have your heart completely smashed to pieces. On the other hand … what upside is there? Not too bloody much. Ask a stupid question, get a stupid answer. Play for small stakes, and you’re never going to win the jackpot.
Easy to say, hard to live. In my case, at least, it’s not actually failure that I fear, it’s being seen to fail. Now here’s the odd thing … I learned a few months back that it’s good for leaders to be public about their mistakes and failures, because if people don’t have known flaws, others make up flaws for them that are usually worse than the real ones. Not to mention that there are issues with being put on a pedestal, goodness knows.
So why am I so afraid to be seen to fail? Because goodness knows I’m not perfect. I try to do the best I can but certainly I do slip up and fall short … of my own expectations usually, first. One of the guys at my gym was getting on my case for being so hard on myself in assessing my own performance. He’s partly right. I do have a lot to be proud of, certainly, but my own nature is to quickly celebrate what I did well, but then figure out how I can improve. Critiquing my own performance is an integral part of that. There’s always going to be someone better than you and someone not as good as you. It’s not about them, it’s about you.
I was also realising this at work on Monday when I was getting a bit frustrated at a situation where we were, knowingly, trying to force a situation. For all the right reasons, yes, but a marketer is not a salesman, any more than a running back is a wide receiver (ah, crap, why’d I have to go remind myself of football … *sniffle*). Reminds me of the great quote from the Tao of Pooh:” You’d be surprised how many people violate this simple principle every day of their lives and try to fit square pegs into round holes, ignoring the clear reality that Things Are As They Are.”
Speaking of failure, or success, rather, I’m going to go on record too and say that I look forward to kicking just a little bit of ass at Regionals. No, we’re not underestimating our opponents, or counting our chickens before they are hatched. But I want us to be the CrossFit New England of Africa, and I think we can, and will. Next year, we’re going to need a deeper bench. But that’s next year. And, of course, in the meantime, I still need to MAKE the team. But I’m excited by the group we have, and what we can put together, although I did have a bit of a laugh at the short-notice team meeting called last night. Maybe I was the only one who had to cancel my evening plans to be able to make it, I don’t know, but the cult comes first, right?
I remember last year being super upset that competition season coincided with autumn, and what a shame it was I couldn’t go drinking in the winelands every weekend while it was beautiful. What a difference a year makes, huh?
Anyway. Another aspect of failure is risk taking, of course, and that relates quite well to the above discussion. Of course you don’t try and find a more challenging job … because you might get shot down, or get fired. Of course you don’t ask out the girl you’ve had a crush on forever, because she might say no, or, worse, she might say yes and then your fantasy is ruined (not that you’re in high school any more or named Sean Kisker, who, by the way, is too busy being a Hollywood bigshot to read this blog often or ever … I should ask him!). But I got to thinking about this because I have now encountered a few couples that are doing the long-distance thing.
Not the Cape Town-Joburg or Paris-London or Boston-New York thing. But LONG long distance, and for periods of time that are quite long, when careers or school ‘conspire’ in a way to keep the couples apart. Now it’s interesting because in a way you think well, that could never work, and in some ways clearly it won’t … until the couples are actually able to live in the same place. But is distance a reason to give up? What if there isn’t a finite amount of time involved, like a time until graduation, but you just don’t know how long it will be? What if you could both, in theory, decide to move to be together … but neither one does? What are you actually choosing? Is it more or less easy, or risky in terms of getting your heart broken, to a relationship with someone in the same city?
I certainly don’t have all the answers. One thing I do know is that it’s painful as sh*t, the long-distance thing, no matter how you slice & dice & rationalise it. But my friend was telling me her opinion which is that if she thought there was really a connection then she would move across the world to be with someone. And she has, in the past, and it didn’t work out, and she didn’t regret it. Would I? Not sure. But I doubt it. Inertia is too powerful. Then again, I fell in love with South Africa and moved here, which sounds crazy, and is crazy. So I guess you just never know. Your whole world can change in an instant, and when you least expect it.
Maybe one of these days they’ll invent transporters. But actually I wouldn’t get in one of those if they existed. One of the few things I remember from my metaphysics class.
All right, enough random musings (I should probably rename this blog Adventures in Navel-Gazing). It’s been a productive first half of the week, as we finally got ourselves a logo we’re happy with for Hubspace (yay, let the marketing begin!), and I ticked a couple of things off my to-do list but, of course, added a bunch more as we are now starting the BEE verification process for ourselves and a number of the enterprises we work with. Not that this causes any hair-pulling or anything. Still, a haphazard start to the week as it contained a lot of meetings, which are good for getting everyone co-ordinated but don’t allow a lot of time for your own work.
The old ankle continues to heal, albeit slowly. There are a couple movements I’m still not comfortable doing, but it’s getting there. Today’s acupuncture session was one of those where every needle that goes in feels like a burning poker, and when I get up I can’t walk straight for 20 minutes, but in the meantime I fall asleep on the table, despite trying to concentrate on my meditation. Well that’s how it goes sometimes, right?
Been having fun with the training though, despite the gimpiness, especially the strength portions. Tuesday was all sorts of crazy squats both am and pm (the morning involved front squats 3×5 at 75% and the evening 7×2 @85!). Oddly enough I can still walk just fine today, so probably I didn’t squat heavy enough. Heh. It’s funny, the satisfaction you get out of lifting heavy weights.
Lots of changes: in the weather, new toys at CCF, big move at the acupuncture studio where I will, one of these weeks (!) start doing martial arts as well. Lots of small vignettes making their impression on me these last few days too: the look of the light on the buildings in CBD in the morning, Lion’s Head being lit while everything beneath it was in shadow, the pink of Table Mountain at 6:30am when I left the house, the saturation of the whitewashed walls of my balcony, the somehow the same yet different craziness of driving in this city. You really do have to be in a right brain state of mind to drive safely and happily in Cape Town. Too much stress and you’re not going to enjoy the process. Not unlike most things in life.  
  • “Have you BREATHED since the last time I saw you?” – Emma (apparently I’ve been a little bit stressed since, um, Fittest in Cape Town)
  • “Anything that’s worth doing should scare you just a little bit.” – Tiffany
  • “I’m not going to Regionals to lose.” – Grant
  • “From now on, I want to hear nothing but positivity from you.” – Grant
  • “It’s certainly unusual. There’s no question about that.” – Peter
  • “That’s why all the people that are from the States are quite happy with it, because you know you’re on the winning team.” – Peter
  • “Why don’t you have one and when are you going to get one?” – Catherine 

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One comment

  1. I like this – your “navel gazing” gives the unimaginative something to hold on to and attach our largely irrelevant musings. Anyway here goes. I've always wondered how long distance relationships work. Back when I was a traveling hasher, I'd run into couples who were separated by distance. They would plan on being at this and that event and otherwise live their lives like asteroids which cross paths predictably. Some of them seemed to last a long time.

    Growing up, I moved every 3 years, which meant abandoning virtually every relationship I had and starting over. I've always dreamed that one day the Atlantic will shrink to the size of a river, and going to England would be a short drive, or perhaps a long scenic walk over an ornate bridge.

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