zag creative

When my turn comes up to blog, I stop and observe the current  “themes” that are happening in my life right now and I tend to speak to those.

This week’s theme:  Overcoming fear of failure.

My mom is terrified of water; she always has been.  This past weekend we tried to get her into the lake.  We securely fastened her into a life jacket and slowly fed her out a few feet from us.  We got her to hold onto a rope just in case we needed to quickly pull her back to us but she still struggled with panic.  When we brought her back in, she was really upset with herself for being so afraid.  I gently assured her, “Mom, don’t worry, it’s okay.  Everyone is afraid of something.” Then she said, “I don’t know about that.  It seems like you’re not afraid of anything.”  I looked at her in disbelief and said, “Are you kidding me?  I have my own fears to contend with.”  She said, “Name one”.

The first thing that popped in my mind and the one that I shared with her was something not too far off from what she struggles with: the fear of failure.   No one likes to fail.  It really, really sucks.

I was reading an article about the Hasno Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford where they work to produce a generation of innovators and work to awaken the genius in each student.

I LOVED this!  They train their students that failure is okay and is actually part of the journey to success.  Allow me to share my favorite expert from the article:

Desensitize yourself to failure

According to Kelley, so many of us opt out of thinking of ourselves as creative because we fear failure and judgment. While kids bring an experimental, playful attitude to trying new things, too many adults get wrapped around the axle when they confront a blank sheet of paper.

Kelley offers up a parable. “When John Cassidy came out with his first book, Juggling for the Complete Klutz. I got it and thought it was brilliant.

He spends the first half of the book just getting you used to the ball hitting the floor. All you do is desensitize yourself to the ball hitting the floor. It seems so silly. But it’s so easy to learn to juggle this way because after you’ve done it about 400 times, you have no fear that the ball is going to hit the floor.”

It’s the same idea when it comes to developing people’s confidence in their creative ability. Once you’ve had the experience of trying lots of new things, flailing, and failing, and celebrating the smallest successes along the way, says Kelley, “you can take risks and you don’t worry about the boss so much. We all act so weird and so badly when we’re insecure.”

So whether you’re learning to be creative, to juggle, to swim, (or in my case this summer, learn to wake surf), we’re going to drop the ball or fall on our face as we push ourselves to be good at something and that’s okay.  So let’s give ourselves permission to fail as we are growing and learning because it will set the stage for us to take risks, experience rewards and gain confidence.

Feel free to check out the rest of the article and Happy Failing!


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