Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Fear of Failure? a reenierant

(Sorry no pics this post... I am on the wrong computer to do so.)

I rode with Paul today. He is always on the road for work, and my inlaws are here visiting from PA, so I stowed away in his car with coffee and knitting for some talky time with my man. We drove from home to Kent, WA (about a 2 hr. drive) all around there, then home again-in a snow storm. blech.
To the point...

One topic we seemed to talk about a lot today was a fear of failure.
(Sparked by this blog post by Igor Kheifets~ )
We tend to not be very swayed by the potential to fail and have failed, more than succeeded, with many things. We are not afraid to make fearless decisions. It makes most of our family and some of our friends crazy, but I love this about us.

I realize that not everyone is like this.
What is it that causes people to be afraid to fail? To feel the need to keep structure and control tight and expectations of outcomes clearly defined?
Is it how we raise our children? Our culture? ("failure is not an option")
How the school system works?
We feed them so much structure, to veer away from that structured path brings inevitable failure, right?

Well, I know that is not true, our path is most definitely not one of "traditional" structure.
We homeschool our girls and now that they are getting older, I see how our no-fear-of-failure approach has affected them and I gotta say, I am very proud of the kind and adventurous people they are turning into.
We call it passion-based-learning and have our own form of structure. Of course we follow the basic math curriculum, and read everything in sight, but other than that, they are free to explore and research what they choose.

Failure is an enormous part of learning what works. It's how we find our passions, and our weaknesses. Our children need to be allowed to fail. To get wrong answers, to create things that do not 'work'. These failures help them figure out how to make things work and how to problem solve.
I remember when Eve learned to sew. She got her very own sewing machine for Christmas when she was 9? and away she went. Of course I cringed at the mess, and the risk of her sewing herself (which she never did), and the oddities that she created. But yesterday she sat at that machine and pieced together a shoulder bag that you would never find a 'pattern' for.
No fear!

A bit over two years ago we were presented with an opportunity to move across the country. Those of you who follow my blog are probably sick of hearing about it, but it was a huge and very hard decision for us. A decision we did not take lightly. What if we moved 3,000 miles from everything we knew and loved and FAILED? gasp!
We made a list of the worst that would happen... and decided to go for it. If the job did not pan out, we could always move back east. We would be out money and a lot of time and emotional turmoil, but so what? To us that was better than always wondering what if.... so here we are, and I still feel it has been the best big decision we have made so far.

food for thought.
How do you approach fear of failure?
Is there something you would love to try but are afraid you may fail? Big or small.
What is the worst that would happen if you DO fail? Is that 'worst thing' really all that bad?

Now I will apply this to creativity, specifically to knitting.
I have met many knitters who are afraid of making a mistake and having to frog (rip out) hours of progress. This is all part of the process though, learning what works and what does not.
A great metaphor for life.
Sometimes our decisions need to be frogged, but can always be re-knit.

Reenie out.


Anonymous said...

Great post and love what it's caused me to think about! Turns out, I am not all that afraid of failure (more of doing something I shouldn't and getting caugh, LOL). I'm kind of a jump in and see what happens gal. Which made me wonder why. I think it is because I am a serious clutz, too! I'm so used to things NOT going according to plan -- but, still going. I'm highly adaptable and ever enthusiastic. So, being a clutz might just be a good thing, heh-heh!

Jackie Wood said...

Hmmmm...things to think about for sure.

Have to say that I always have a plan and I am not usually too happy when the plan does not go the way that I expect. Not really "scared to fail" in the sense that it keeps me from trying, but I am very impatient and don't like to take long to learn something, some things are just not meant for me.

I do prefer to try new things when I am alone, allows me to work things out in my head as I go along and I tend to enjoy new things when I can get completely lost in them. Guess that might be part of the impatient thing, I don't care for interruptions when exploring.

Anonymous said...

I've frogged many things and abandoned many paintings. It can be disappointing, but it's still time well spent. I've learned most of what I know that way, mainly that it's worth putting time into the planning phase.