Someone I follow on FB, Instagram and Twitter said they were going to speak this week on the subject of failure and they quoted a Japanese proverb, Fall down seven times get up eight. I was so excited – I was familiar with that proverb. Never before did the subject of failure impress me as something I wanted to read about. Most of us read about success and how to be successful, not failure! And another person I follow just posted that sometimes your best isn’t good enough and said they don’t believe in participation awards. You do or do not, there is no try – to sound like Yoda. So this subject of failure is making the rounds.
What do I say to that? Fall down, get the heck up and do it again! No quitting here.
I went through a leadership course years ago and had to make a presentation using art as a medium for the subject of leadership. I chose to paint a rendition of that same Japanese proverb. I included a few more pieces to my painting. Cherry blossoms to represent the fleeting amount of time we might have on this earth, and a koi fish swimming upstream to represent trials only to become a dragon when it accomplished its goal. I like art. I never formally studied art so I am sharing this picture with some trepidation. I think you get the idea I was trying to portray.
Never give up, try again, and keep trying. You will succeed one day.
March 13, 2009. Four way stop sign intersection. Crossing guard, neon safety vest and flashing hand held stop sign. 1993 jeep grand Cherokee and a teenage driver. What do you do when you get to a stop sign? You stop and then you go. You probably should make sure it is safe to go after you stop but when you are a distracted teenager, you go.
That was my morning a few years ago, caught in the crosswalk with my then kindergartner and her Harry Potter lunch box in her backpack slung over my shoulder. Caught in the crosshairs, not able to out run a motor vehicle, nowhere to go, unable to get away, impact inevitable.
Every day a monotonous copy of the one before. Wake up, get ready, go to work – kid to school, come home have dinner go to bed. Over and over again. This terrible accident changed that. And I am fortunate for two reasons. One because although I was injured and still feel the effects of that injury often, it does not stop me from feeling alive and breathing each day. Second because we all survived and that incident changed my monotonous journey.
In that moment of impact, I remember wondering if I pushed my daughter far enough out of the way and thinking I was going to lose my teeth when I stopped flying through the air. I also realized when I landed and in the ensuing days, life is too short to not live with passion. Without purpose and without passion life is a slow death. You may not know where your passion is or what really excites you, yet, but that doesn’t mean you should accept the slow death of monotony. Keep seeking, keep hunting, searching, and when something comes along that lights that fire inside it will give you purpose.
There is never a time when you are too old and it is never too late. Let passion kill your fear and follow that dream, whatever it may be. The possibilities are endless, nothing can stop a person with passion and purpose. I keep that crushed Harry Potter lunch box as a reminder of how fleeting our time is on this Earth. Here today but maybe gone in an instant. Looking at that lunch box I can ask myself, did I try my best today, did I go out and work toward that goal, did I tell my loved ones I love them today? And as I lay my head down at night I smile knowing that I did.