Right now I’m making my way through the emotional fallout of a failed project that had been close to my heart. As I process my thoughts, beliefs and emotions, I’ve been taking strength from the saying, ‘failure is the key to success’, and wondering what insights and gifts I can glean for myself as I unpack this uncomfortable experience.
I usually bounce back quickly from setbacks because I strongly believe that things work out for the best and for our highest good in the long run. I’ve practiced this way of being in my own life for a long time, and I’ve guided my clients through their tough times, with this understanding, too.
I’ve found that it’s usually a sign of up-levelling and coming into greater alignment, and although sometimes these difficult experiences feel hard to handle, nothing ever stays the same. And of course, it’s always darkest before the dawn of a new state of living and being.
So in this article, I’ve reflected on what failure and success really mean, depending on the lens you view life through. I hope you find some reframes that help you view your own ‘failure’ experiences differently if you’re facing something similar.
For starters, I would love to see more people in the shiny online space sharing about their ‘failures’ and less braggable experiences. Currently we don’t have a balanced picture of reality when it comes to what one needs to do to become successful, or what success really is.
But then again, in this culture of instant gratification, maybe knowing in advance how stretching the experience is to go for your dreams and goals, you might not want to leave the unsatisfying, yet familiar world that you know!
Would you agree?
I like to read about a person’s real journey, without leaving out all the things they found difficult or that didn’t work out for them. I’m fascinated by the strength and resiliency of the human spirit and how someone perseveres in their own unique way to eventually have a breakthrough.
Authenticity and inspiration!
However, in today’s world, particularly online, most people only talk about their successes and leave out the parts of the journey that had them crying in frustration or battling with self-doubt, although we all know failures are bound to happen multiple times along the way.
Things worth having or achieving take time, energy, mastery, resistance and perseverance. We only need look to nature to see that things take time and move through phases of evolution until the potential of that life form is reached; think caterpillar to butterfly, or seed to fruiting plant.
So it’s natural that we go through these points of resistance and transformation as we evolve into our highest potential. And although it might feel uncomfortable at the time, you could definitely say that failure is the key to success as it’s part of that normal process. So why is there so much shame, guilt and fear attached to failing if it’s natural and expected?
Is it down to our skewed success culture?
What is success and failure, really?
What is failure anyway, but feedback: life lessons from the universe in response to our beliefs, choices and actions.
While the culturally conditioned idea of success is something external, material and an end result of productive, hard work, that’s just not true for everyone.
Maya Angelou was quoted as saying, ”Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.” I think that gets closer, but for me, success has a more spiritual dimension than that.
It’s about discovering and fulfilling the divine purpose we came here for. And this success is kinder because there’s no deadline and no one is holding a gun to my head to do it right NOW. It’s an evolving, life-long commitment to growth, and I know that if I deviate too far off course then my soul will nudge me back into alignment. And this kind of success brings me a deeper sense of satisfaction, joy, inner peace and contentment because I feel my interconnection with all things and the divine intelligence of life guiding me.
How about you?
What would you say is your definition of success?
The value of not having things work out as planned
Although inconvenient and a bad thing in the capitalist world-view, there is such a lot of value in the experience of things not going as we planned, even though it sucks to go through it.
We grow stronger and more resilient, we learn our realistic limitations, we discover where we weren’t fully aligned with our vision or where we’d missed some important detail that was needed to make a better choice or to have a better chance at a favourable outcome.
You might also find out that the linear road to success is hardly ever an authentic one, and that life naturally offers a meandering path; sometimes clear and easy, and other times steep, narrow and strewn with obstacles to navigate.
It takes some practice and a fair bit of faith, plus it’s not easy, but if you can let go of judging one part of the journey as good or welcome, and another as bad or unacceptable, and just allow yourself to experience what life presents to you, then you will soon move through the more difficult stretches and find greater peace, equilibrium and sustained joy through the natural ups and downs.
As we slow down and embody more of our Divine Feminine energy, feeling our way one step at a time through our bodies’ knowing, rather than thinking, planning and driving our way forward from our minds, we come into greater alignment with our highest path – even if it’s not how we expected it to look. And we experience the process of becoming more true to ourselves and what we really want and feel, as opposed to what we have been unconsciously conditioned to want.
Plus, we get to enjoy the moments along the way and the value in the journey with presence, rather than racing ahead, efforting our way to the end goal or destination before we allow ourselves to stop, breathe and savour the results.
Failing our way toward the world we want to live in
I wonder if culturally we were more transparent and less judgemental about the things that seem to go pear-shaped for us, whether more of us would be willing to stretch ourselves and try new things that might change our societies?
What advances could we make if failure was deemed not only acceptable but maybe even celebrated as a necessary and expected rite of passage on the way to breakthroughs and personal success for each of us?
Wouldn’t it be great if we were encouraged culturally to laugh at our misadventures, be curious about where and why life wanted us to deviate away from our plan and feel proud of having a go, rather than self-recriminate?
Currently, however, we collectively hold a lot of fear and shame around the idea of failing, and that acts as a bad ass saboteur that stops so many people from stepping a foot outside their comfort zones, going for their dreams or trying something new in case they fall flat on their face and get judged (by others or themselves).
The format of my project that failed was a membership site called The Conscious Dabbler Collective. I wanted to create and grow a community around the concept of conscious play, experimentation with new ways of being and self-discovery. It was about supporting and encouraging one another to make one’s authentic joy, growth and wellbeing a priority, and following one’s heart guidance over the pressures of the conditioned mind.
Whilst I was bringing it together I had many waves of fear come up. After all, I’d been away from the online business world for a couple of years and here I was stretching myself with a brand new endeavour, using a whole different technology and no Facebook to rely on for marketing since they shut down my account after I was hacked (with no recourse to get it back). So Everything felt new, unknown, stretchy and outside my comfort zone. I had all the jangly nerves and anxiety of being a beginner again!
But working through that was also fascinating and a lot of fun. I unpicked so many limiting beliefs and healed old wounds. I created a whole new level of loving connection with my inner child, and it was exhilarating to meet my edges, nudge them outwards and discover parts of myself that had been holding me back in all kinds of ways my whole life.
It felt like progress. It gave me confidence because I could feel myself growing and changing, and this time around I was much more gentle, kind and compassionate to myself as I went through the process.
Dodging the bullet to burn out
When it came to soft-launching the community space I was full of joy, expectation and enthusiasm. I knew how impactful dabbling could be as a way to create more joy in your life, foster a deeper connection with Source Energy and get back into flow; the membership space looked beautiful and enticing, and the women I invited to join were wise, supportive friends who understood the concept and value of conscious community with other women.
But, after running it for a month, I discovered just how much energy and attention it would need from me to take it forward. What with everything else going on in the world, overcoming sickness that floored me for a few weeks and the responsibilities I was carrying in life, I felt really overwhelmed and exhausted and I realised that it was just too much.
The biggest red flag was that, despite being able to top myself up temporarily through my dabbling practices, I noticed how flat and joyless I was beginning to feel underneath.
It wasn’t filling me, it was draining me, and I recognised that slippery slope to burnout.
So I hit the pause button on the membership and pulled back to lick my wounds, regroup and reflect.
I’m not going to lie, it was really disappointing. Also, I don’t seem to be wired to be able to focus on multiple projects at one time, so I had given this a lot of my time and energy at the expense of other things. So I felt guilty, ashamed and stupid about ‘wasting’ time and resources. I felt lost, uncertain and directionless, wobbly and vulnerable, and my confidence in my ability to make good choices for myself had taken a beating.
I was aware of my mind racing around in fire-fighting mode, seeking solutions, questioning, berating, looking for a way through or for something to salvage, or for what to do to avoid feeling these feelings. It was exhausting!
But underneath all that, I felt such a relief that I had set myself free, and a big weight lifted from my shoulders.
It was the right decision.
And when I shared what I needed to do with my members, and friends who’d followed my journey, I was met with such love and acceptance. I was concerned about letting them down, but they said they admired my courage in making the difficult decision to stop, rather than pressing on. It was very humbling, and I’m very grateful to have had the reassurance and understanding from these exceptional women.
So right now, The Conscious Dabbler Collective is on hiatus. However, if timing and circumstances line up, I can open the doors again, but it will be in a different way, having learned from this experience!
In the meantime, while I’m going through a healing process to integrate all that’s transpired, I have realised how much I need simplicity. So to that end, right now I’m going to focus on what I enjoy most – my 121 coaching practice, which feels really good, but I have a feeling something else is just around the corner…
And as they say, when one door closes, another door opens, so perhaps this ‘failure’ is the key to success in my next chapter!
I wonder what that will be? I’m already excited!
If you’ve been struggling with things not working out as you’d hoped or expected and are bumping into the failure gremlins of shame, guilt and fear, I hope you found this blog helpful to reframe failure and possibly see it as an initiation into your next level of being.
Please let me know in the comments below, or share with your friends.
And if you would like support through your own uplevelling process, do reach out.
Cathy teaches her clients to develop and trust their connection to Source, master their spiritual power and reclaim their worth and value, creating more joy, satisfaction and abundance as a natural by-product of authentic alignment.
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