How the fear of failure ensured that I failed

I recently started my second month of Praxis. I’ve been watching the other participants through the first month. Their life stories blew me away. I shouldn’t have been surprised to see many of them drop 1000 word essays as their first blog post on day 1 of month 2. I doubly shouldn’t have been surprised because I’ve been watching the other participants for the past 8 months or so. These kids are rock stars. They can write words around me all day, every day.

At first I thought, “uh oh, I don’t belong here. I’m just a washed up 25-year-old fogey. My potential for protégé is out the window. I’ll never measure up to these whipper snappers. There must have been some mistake when they accepted me, maybe they were desperate.”

My second thought was, “Oh well, they’ve already accepted me, and have yet to make any indication that I’m no longer worthy for the program. They’ve had plenty of time to think about it. I guess that means I’ll keep going. Maybe nobody will notice that I snuck in.”

Last night I had a minor break down. I have a confession to make. I’m 2 weeks late and it’s already Month 2. It’s not going to get easier. On November 1st, Everyone else was completely caught up and already starting the curriculum for Month 2. The assignment on November 1st is to write every day for 30 days. When I saw the 1000 word essays, I thought I was done for. I thought about giving up. I felt overwhelmed by the immense task ahead of me (1000 words is what I write over the course of a week, not a day). I fell asleep at 8pm telling myself that it was just a nap, instead of writing first. I did not wake up until the next day.

I thought I had to publish 1000 word essays each day, so I didn’t write anything on Day 1. On Day 2, I timidly, opened up the assignment to find out what it actually was. I was hesitant, because I didn’t want to find out that I had to write 1000 words per day. Lo and behold, it was not 1000 words per day. It was any amount I wanted. I could even publish a haiku.

I felt so freaking silly I couldn’t believe it. This whole time I was freaking out, I could have been working. I let my fear of failure, ensure that I failed. I was supposed to do 30 days of writing starting on Day 1, but I waited until Day 2. I’ll still do 30 days. I’ll still be late and behind compared to other participants. That’s ok. All that matters is that I get it done. One step at a time.

Seth Godin has a phrase, “This might not work”. The whole point is to flirt with failure. If you knew it would work, then it would be boring. If you knew it wouldn’t work, you’re wasting your time. It’s only when you walk the line that the real magic happens. I’m wounded, but I’m not dead. I will make it through this.

This Might Not Work. But I’m sure as hell going to try.