Let Yourself Be Successful!
Recently I watched “Planet Earth” series on Netflix. I am simply fascinated by nature and all of its complexities. If you haven’t seen that documentary series yet, I highly recommend it. I’ve just finished it myself and I’m moving on to “Planet Earth 2”. With that preface, my partner and I were driving around the other day and came across a bird repeatedly flying into a passenger side mirror on a vehicle in a parking lot. The bird seemed to be fighting with the mysterious bird in the mirror. Now I’m using my new found biology skills from watching “Planet Earth”, and assume that he was fighting for territory or rights to mate with another bird. It is spring time after all. I stopped to take a quick video of this behavior.
I couldn’t help but think about this little guy’s dilemma. He is battling with himself, and yet doesn’t know it. He is thinking that he can not move on and relax in his own “home” and “community” until this new invader is defeated. He thinks that he can not get the girl, unless this handsome, strong and persistent fellow in front of him is removed from competition. How could he ever compete with “that guy”?!
I realized there were many times in my life where I was in the exact same predicament as this bird, figuratively speaking. I never tried out for my high school soccer team because I didn’t feel I was good enough. In reality, I was only scared of failing. If I didn’t make at least the junior varsity team, it would prove that I was a failure somehow. So I didn’t even try; guaranteeing I would fail. It’s always easier to say, “I didn’t try” verses, “I tried my hardest and failed”.
These are all self deceptions and self battles that most people struggle with. As I’ve gotten older, the strength of the “fear of failure” has loosened its grip. I’d like to share one of the most enlightening experiences of my life that started to weaken fear’s control over me.
In 1996 I was attending a junior college in eastern Idaho. That fall semester I took a geology course that included travel, rock climbing and lots of camping. One of the classes I was trying to pass was “Rock Climbing”. Yes, it was a college course. To help us learn to get comfortable and trust our ropes, my rock climbing professor took us to a ropes course near Yellowstone National Park. There we had to climb up a telephone pole via a few wooden foot holds. Once we were able to stand on top of this roughly 12” wide telephone pole, with no hand holds at the top, we were then asked to jump forward about 8’ and up about 6’ to catch a hanging trapeze bar. After just about everyone in my 30 member class had tried the jump, it was my turn. Up until this point, only about 5 male students were able to catch the trapeze and only 1 female student. This female student seemed like the strongest girl in our class. At the time, I was overweight, and struggled believing in myself, especially when it came to my physical strength. So when it was my turn, I immediately knew I wouldn’t succeed. I labored, shook, and struggled to get to the top, finally reaching the narrow end. With my professor holding onto my belay (rope) he instructed me to jump as hard as I could out and up to catch the trapeze. Consumed with fear, and not wanting that secret confirmation that I was a failure, I gave no effort in reaching the goal. I simply leaned forward and fell off the pole. As I was swinging in the middle of the air, I could see the look on my professor’s face. It was sheer disappointment. We each only had one chance on the pole, so he started to lower me down. I instantly woke up! “Wait!” I said. “Can I try that again?”. My professor said I could if I were able to find my way back up on the pole from my current position. My position at the time was completely upside down with my legs wrapped around the pole. So I twisted and maneuvered my body to grab hold and climb back on top of the pole, much faster the second time. As I stood up on top of the pole, I felt all of my negative voices leave me. The only voice I heard was “give it all you’ve got!”. I had stopped fighting myself with negative self talk. So I jumped with all my might and caught the trapeze! I was hanging there with all my classmates cheering and my professor’s grin reflecting back up at me. I felt so empowered and in control for the first time in a long while.
From that point on, I knew that I had the power to achieve anything if I gave it all my effort. I may not succeed the first time, but by continual striving and learning from previous failures, I could succeed. It was such a pivotal point in my life. For the first time, failure didn’t seem like the end of the world. It actually seemed like the very beginning.
So how does this apply to our lives? There are many of us who prevent ourselves from achieving our full potential because we are distracted by our negative self talk. We can’t stop fighting the bird in the mirror so we never move forward with our lives. We are too busy beating ourselves up over and over again. Financially, this could prevent a career move, asking for a raise, learning a new skill, trying something completely out of your comfort zone, like a blog. Our internal battles could prevent us from fully investing in our relationships, fearing rejection or failure. These battles affect every part of our lives.
My continual challenge to myself and the world is to stop fighting ourselves, leave the negative self talk behind. Reach out as far and as high as you can, let yourself be successful. You will be surprised at what you will achieve.