The Myth of Failure – An Open Letter to My Daughters
Failure is a negative word in our society and I simply don’t believe it should have that much power. Failure is an opportunity to learn. Failure means that you took a risk to try something new, something different. Failure gives you an opportunity to grow through challenges. I’ve heard a few adults talk about things they won’t do because they are afraid of failing themselves or others. That bothers me. Life is short – live it!
As a Mom I have a powerful influence over my daughters and their perception of failure. I want to make sure my girls know what failure truly is, and what it is not. I want to make sure I am not the type of person that has children afraid to experience all life has to offer because they are afraid of failing themselves – or worse – me.
My Beautiful Girls,
I hope you read this letter when you are feeling scared, unsure of yourself, unsure of your next steps, or when you just feel like a failure. I want you to read it – a lot. I hope that as you read this you gain the strength and the courage to take chances in life. Don’t ever let the fear of failure hold you back. So many people go through life scared of failure – and they miss out on the greatest parts of being alive.
First, I have to admit something…I have failed. Many times. I will fail again. Does this make me a failure? No! There are times that I feel like a failure in life, and you will too. However, I hope in those moments you remember what I say in the rest of this letter.
There are really two different ways to fail at life.
- You fail to try because you are afraid to fail.
- You fail because you tried
Girls, if you fail to try because you are afraid to fail, then I have failed you as a parent.
You will fail in life. No one is perfect. So what does it really mean to fail?
- Quitting when you are not the best. Never quit just because something is difficult. Choose to end certain activities because you have found something you are more passionate about. Prioritizing your life is important – you cannot do it all. Never quit in frustration – you will get through it, and you will discover some amazing things about yourself at the end of that tunnel.
- Being scared to love with your entire heart. I am very guilty of this. Your father gave me the greatest gift I have ever been given – the gift of unconditional love. He loved me from the beginning of our relationship until the end. Without question, without doubt. He loved me at my best, worst, and everywhere in between. Never settle for less, and never give less. Yes, you will get hurt by doing this. It is scary. But loving with anything less than your best-self will only short change you. Take the risk.
- Not communicating. When you don’t communicate you don’t give others the chance to help. I don’t mean whining, complaining, or anger. I mean the simple act of telling someone how you are feeling, what you would like to change, and what support you need to be successful. This is another one I am not good at, but I’ve gotten better through writing. You will find that I write down my biggest challenges and that is OK. Everyone needs a little help or support sometime. Find a way that works for you.
- Pretending to be someone you are not. You do not need to be anyone other than yourself – you are beautiful. Don’t copy anyone – you can never be a better version of another person. You were put here on Earth for a reason, never forget that.
- Lack of kindness. There are mean people in this world. They are failing themselves, their friends, family, and anyone that has to be around them. Being mean or negative is VERY easy. Never take the easy road and always be true to yourself. Be compassionate toward others and you will find success in all you do.
- Being scared to fail me. If you take anything away from this, please understand that you will never fail me. Your failure is my failure and I am here to help you through it. I may be disappointed in your decisions, but I also know that you have to make some mistakes to learn. My disappointment will be short-lived and we will look for solutions together. I am your number one fan. I will always love you. Be true to yourself, your morals, and your values. Don’t ever limit your life because you are afraid to fail me.
Failure is NOT…
Failure is not…Doing your best and not achieving your dream. This is the old “shoot for the moon and land among the stars” analogy. Dreams change. Mine have changed so many times in my life it is dizzying. However, I have always worked towards a dream until I decided that my dreams had changed. You will live, you will learn, and you will find new passions. Never be afraid to dream a new dream. Sometimes you have the choice, sometimes you will be thrust into a new reality that requires you to change your dreams even when you don’t want to.
Failure is not…Final. When (not if) you fail realize that your failure can impact you for any amount of time that you let it. Don’t let failure stick with you for a long period of time. Pick yourself up, own up to what happened, and do what you can to correct it. Then, commit to doing better the next time – there will be a next time!
Failure is not…A reflection of your value as a person. We all fail. You are not defined by your successes or your failures. You are defined by your character, your integrity, and the “how” of your life – not the “what”. You will be remembered for how you handled the failure not the failure itself.
Failure is not…Defined by anyone other than you. What you see as a failure may be seen as a breakthrough opportunity to another individual. Be hard enough on yourself so you commit to learning from the event or decision, but don’t be too hard on yourself. How you handle the tough times is a much better judge of character than how you handle the good times.
My greatest failures in life revolve around my fear of being me. I wasn’t true to my character, my values, or who I truly am as a person. In many cases, I was afraid to fail others and that fear led me to fail myself.
I want you to know you don’t have to be perfect or have all the answers – I will be here for you as you learn, grow, succeed, and fail. As your mom I will try to protect you even when I can’t, and I will be there to pick you up when you fall.
Finally, when I think about failure I wonder if the things I feel like I fail at today will be relevant at the end of my days. Almost always that answer is NO! Life is the big picture. Be true to you, and you will not fail in life. When I am gone, I hope you can say that I was a good mother that supported you and helped you achieve your dreams – whatever they may be. I hope people say that I worked hard, but I balanced my life and prioritized my family first. I hope people remember me for the positive impact I had on their life, which means I made a difference to people. If people can say these things about me – then girls, I did not fail in life.
R & K, you make my life worth living and I am blessed to be your mom. We are a team – we will win and lose together many times, but there is no one else on Earth I’d rather have on my team.
I love you,