I knew I could do it.
When I was little, I just knew. Every time I was in my yard or at a playground, I would try, sure that this time would be different. Certain that this time, I would accomplish my goal.
I would get my swing to go over the top of the swing set.
I would kick hard at the air in front of me while arching my back so far that my hair would kiss the ground as I sailed by. Then, at just the right moment, I would lean forward and bend my knees into a tight tuck. Back and forth I moved, swinging higher and faster each time.
Some days I would swing so high and so hard and so fast that the structure would shake. Yes, I would think. This is it!
Yet, try as I might, I never looped around.
This is not really a surprise. It was a dream that was virtually impossible. The physics required to make it over the top means the chance of victory is a little less likely than winning the lottery. Yet as a child trying to defy gravity, the odds of my success never occurred to me.
The goal wasn’t about the joy of succeeding. The goal was about the excitement of dreaming.
If the only joy to be found was in succeeding, my fear of failure could have caused me to avoid the swings after a few unsuccessful attempts. I may have thought that since I couldn’t swing myself over the top, I just wasn’t cut out for that piece of playground equipment.
Think of what I would have missed if that was my attitude: the feeling of the wind whipping through my hair, the thrill of launching myself from higher and higher altitudes, the nervous excitement of swing-set-shaking speeds.
Success is about much more than accomplishing goals. It’s about having the courage to strive for them.
Sometimes as an adult, I forget that.
My fear of failure looms large.
Then I think about the people in the Bible who had God-given and God-sized goals. They had huge dreams that they never achieved in their lifetime. God’s purpose for them was not in the accomplishment. It was in the process.
Maybe that dream of publishing a book hasn’t failed. But perhaps the process of living your story, meeting new people, and trying new things is enriching your life in ways you wouldn’t have experienced otherwise.
Maybe that goal of getting a new job hasn’t failed.
Perhaps the interviewing, resume writing, and searching has taught you more about who you are so that you are more prepared for the next thing that comes along.
Dreams and goals engage us in life. They force us to take risks and move us out of our comfort zone. They help us view life through the lens of possibilities.
Leaps of faith sometimes end in a face plant on the other side of the divide. But the crash doesn’t mean we failed. For those who jump get to experience the wonder and trust that can only take place when we give up our secure footing and move towards something new.
So let’s redefine failure. Let’s find success in the dreaming.
Are you afraid of failure? How does that affect the way you approach your dreams?
My name is Stephanie Spencer and I Am A Prodigal
[photo: stevendepolo Creative Commons]