“If you don’t fail it’s because you did not risk enough, and if you didn’t risk enough it’s because you didn’t put your whole self out there.”
I’ve kept this post for a long time…not because I was working on my writing or anything, just because I wasn’t ready to put it out there…
We don’t talk about it much…but its all around us and haven’t we all experienced it? That spelling bee in grade four, that sociology course in first year of university, a relationship…a running race with a personal worst. We’ve all been there, right?
In a world that has turned into sharing only the finest moments through our social media networks, the stories of failure go untold, hidden, are a seeming embarrassment. Let’s just avoid risk and that way we can avoid it.
On January 18th I found myself sitting on a Metro Transit bus, in tears, facing my big failure. I spent weeks – no months – preparing for the Project Management Professionals Exam (PMP). Reading, quizzing, prep courses, you name it, I had spent hours and hours learning the dreaded and elusive PMBOK (Project Management Book of Knowledge). Unlike my first year sociology final exam, I walked into the testing facilities feeling confident and knowledgable, a soon-to-be PMP if you will. But as the four hour exam rolled out, my confidence faltered….my second guessing – third guessing – shot all of my hopes down. I was feeling more unsure as each question went on. I started to mentally beat myself up: You’ve read the books, Becky – you KNOW this. Come on!
My electronic exam had this nifty* little function that allowed me to flag questions so I could go back and second guess myself later. This could have been my downfall. I ended up flagging 75 questions, out of 200. And I changed all of those answers as I watched the final minutes allocated for the exam tick down to nothing. I know the multiple choice rules, trust your gut, don’t change, blah blah blah.
When I finally hit the “submit exam” button, I crossed my fingers as stranger things have happened. Maybe I had just been hard on myself, maybe I would never have to sit in this terrible exam room without water and poor lighting ever again. Lingering hope….
I read it twice, and then again. And then I wondered why in the world I had shared that I was writing this exam with my entire social network.
Yes, for a brief and hazy moment I blamed the test. Similar to when you stub your tow and you blame the coffee table. “Who put that there!?” I’m not going to lie, my destination changed on that bus ride – to my favourite watering hole and a supportive boyfriend that let me cry and paid for my glass (es) of wine and then told me (er, encouraged me) that it wasn’t the end of the world, that I could do it. I composed myself. I embraced this failure as much as I could and even shared it to that social network – I didn’t want to cover it up. I will attempt this exam again, and I will go back to that room feeling confident.
Not everyone embraces failure and not everyone fails the exam or race or class…because not everyone strives to be better, strives to challenge themselves, wants to be a better version of themselves. I want to grow, learn, experience success – but I can’t do that without a little failure on the way.
Let’s embrace it – lets let our friends and family know about our failures and how we are going to achieve success the next time. Take that risk!
*by nifty, I mean incredible terrible and horrible and awful.