How To Defang Your Failures

How To Defang Your Failures - photo: flickr/geishaboy500 (cc)I whittled down a heap of ideas into a handful of projects that really light me up, not really been moving on any of them though…

Mostly because I’ve been working on higher priority stuff, but there was also a blockage there…I could find time to dabble, explore, move them an inch, but I wasn’t looking. I was passing up opportunities, even.

For the usual reason: I’ve grown averse to visibility in uncensored circles and have avoided publishing much of anything much of anywhere beyond the carefully cultivated Crys-loving community I’ve shaped on Facebook. Topping the list of frets: Being seen fucking up, being seen as a fuck-up . I know I’m not alone in that.

Lining up my clear successes helped.

Today I dug deeper than that, though, and started pulling out the splinters of my failures.

I had to pause for breath after the second one. The 3rd one on up are gonna require some preparatory ritual. The old ones are easier than new ones, as you might expect…the recent are tender, the owies still fresh and seeping.

So in this pause I figured I’d share the process, if only to remind myself why I’m sifting through this shit.

Defanging Failures: The Setup

You’ll likely recognize this process from elsewhere. It’s a wonderfully widely applicable structure—

  1. List projects you perceive as failures.
  2. Pick one.
  3. On a new sheet/page, write the project name and the title: What I Did Wrong. List everything you see as missteps and mistakes.
  4. Title the next section: What I Did Right. List all your efforts you see as successful.

Defanging Failures: The Pliers

  1. Start a new page titled What I Know Now. Flip back to the What I Did Wrong list and on this new page list how you would deal with each of those issues if it came up again, based on how you handled that experience or similar experiences since.
  2. Optional:  If you notice something you did wrong back then that you still do now or haven’t encountered since, rewrite it here and put a star next to it.
    • The intention isn’t to emphasize a flaw but to highlight it as unexplored territory. Whyever it’s gone unaddressed, may as well meet it on your own terms, on your own time.
    • For these, imagine and list different approaches, as you don’t have your experience to guide you. Feel free to ask for help from folks who’d know.

In the midst of this, I can say the negative feelings around those first projects and periods of time are shifting pretty fast. Not gone or forgotten…more like forgiven and defanged.

And freeing, which was my aim. I really wanna move on with new stuff but frankly, under the surface I didn’t trust myself to do right because of all I recalled doing wrong.

Now, though, I have a list of solutions, both proven & speculative, that directly address the flubs I know PLUS growing confidence that inevitable new mistakes can be managed and will eventually come to this same good place of understanding.

So. Less and less to fear here.

…and here’s a thought: For a symbolic Step 6 to the exercise, shred the What I Did Wrong list. Or burn it. Or shred it and then burn it. What use is it now that we’ve made a list of what we learned? I’m thinking: None.

My best,