Friday, September 11, 2009

I'm Learning Not To Be Afraid To Fail

One of the reasons I am so excited about my new book is because during the last seven years everything I’ve tried to do has failed. I worked so hard to get my PhD and then tried three times to be hired as a full time professor only to be passed over every time. I wrote three other books that were rejected. A Christmas cantata that a friend and I wrote has been repeatedly rejected. I wrote the lyrics and narration, and my friend wrote the music which is absolutely beautiful, but we can’t get anyone (even our wards) to use even one of the songs. I can understand why they wouldn’t want to do the whole cantata, but one song? And then there have been lots of other little things that have constantly been very disappointing.

I don’t bring this up so you’ll feel sorry for me. Please no! I bring this up because there have been some very important things I have learned from this experience. I can honestly say I don’t regret one moment of trying. Sometimes in the past I’ve talked myself out of pursuing a dream or a goal because I felt like it was too hard or could never happen. But what I’ve learned these last seven years is that even if you try and fail, you still come out ahead. I’ve learned things I never would have learned any other way. I’ve met new friends. I’ve felt myself stretch and be strengthened and that strength is still mine even though the goals were never reached. It's been like training for a weight lifting contest. I didn't win the contest, but my muscles are much stronger now because of the training.

Learning what I am capable of doing has surprised me. But most of all I have the personal satisfaction of knowing that I gave things my best shot. I did all I could. I don’t have a nagging feeling inside me that I was a quitter or that I might have succeeded if I’d just tried. I did it, learned, and moved on.

So if I seem over exuberant, please don’t think I’m bragging or being too prideful. I’m just happy that at last something has succeeded. But at the same time I wouldn’t change the past. For some reason, it was what I needed.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Kudos for hanging in there. Sometimes I think that is the hardest part. It makes me wonder if the real goal is hidden away and Heavenly Father lets us find it. Maybe the goals along the way were not as important as the hidden goal of becoming stronger, more resilient, hopeful and grateful. You did not have to reveal past failures, but I know you do because you care about the struggles of other people so much. You are such a good example to all of us. No wonder we love you so much.xoxoxo
Cathie

By the way, Thomas Edison designed a 1,ooo different light bulbs until he came uo with the one that we use today. I, for one, am very grateful not to have to sit in the dark. I don't think many of us could have hung in there that long! I am extremely grateful that was not my calling in life!

Connie said...

As always Sherrie, you are an inspiration. Fear holds so many back, myself included. I recently posted a note on my bulletin board that says "Fall down seven times, stand up eight" I love it! I am so excited about your newest book and hope to be a very proud owner of it!!!! all the best.

Sherrie Mills Johnson said...

Cathie, I've heard that about Edison before and am also grateful he kept plugging away at his idea. And I think yo are right about goals--our goals are not always God's goals. His are better!

Sherrie Mills Johnson said...

Connie, I love your quote. I'm going to print it out for myself. Thanks for adding it.

Anita said...

Sherrie, thank you so much for sharing that. I needed to hear it. I'm doing many things, and feel like I'm not being successful in any of them very much. But I forgot why I'm doing them in the first place. I should just enjoy the journey.

Cathy said...

Thank you for these beautiful words of encouragement and for sharing what you have been through. I love the weight training analogy as another reminder to reach for the stars and be strengthened and refined along the way.

SMJ said...

Anita, You've hit the nail on the head. It's the journey that is important and we should enjoy every minute of it. It is leading us somewhere important even if we can't see the real "success" right now.

SMJ said...

Cathy, That's what it's all about, isn't it! Being strengthened and refined.