Let’s take a break from nutrition for a moment. While I love teaching about food and nutrition, it’s only one aspect of life and health. One of my main goals as a nutritionist is to help people improve their health so they can have more energy and the ability to do the things they want or need to do.
I came across this passage the other day in research professor Brene Brown’s book “Daring Greatly”. This excerpt gives you a sneak peek into her thoughts right before she walks up on stage to give a talk at a TED Conference!
“…Seconds before I was introduced, I thought about a paperweight on my desk that reads, ‘What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?” I pushed that question out of my head to make room for a new question. As I walked up to the stage, I literally whispered aloud, “What’s worth doing even if I fail?”
This question hit me hard. I have often held myself back because I fear failure. At times, I don’t feel good enough or smart enough. But even though I sometimes feel stuck and paralyzed in what to do next, I know that it would be worse to look back years from now and realize that I didn’t even try. I’d rather look back on my failures and my successes and just be glad that I tried and be proud of the work I put in.
I believe most people would.
Our society tends to focus a lot of attention on success and not so much on the effort and work people put in to at least trying something. Let me say this, whether you succeed in everything you want to do or not, you are amazing for trying it in the first place. You are wonderful for putting in the effort.
I like that the second sentence doesn’t skirt around the idea of failure. It accepts that failure is a possibility but it doesn’t mean that the thing isn’t worth doing.
Through failure, we learn more about ourselves and even the people around us. We learn where our passions and values fit into our lives. We learn what we are capable of.
We are all flawed. We all make mistakes. But we keep going. It’s important to keep trying new things. Keep showing up. Even if something we do draws criticism, if it’s important to us, it’s worth giving it our best effort. If it could make us happy or healthier or help make others happy or safe, it’s worth trying. If this thing aligns with your passions and values, it’s worth doing.
I asked a number of people I know how they would answer the question “What’s worth doing even if I fail?”
What follows are the responses I got. The responses highlighted how much we all have in common no matter how different our backgrounds may be.
I hope you enjoy reading these responses as much as I did.
What’s worth doing even if I fail?
-“Trying to fulfill my potential.”
-“Never judging anyone. It is something I am always trying not to do, but sometimes I fail, sometimes I don’t realize what I said was a judgment until after it comes out of my mouth and sometimes I realize it as I am saying it and have to backtrack. And sometimes I know before I say it but I let my ego get in the way and I say it anyway. Either way, it is worth trying and it’s mentally healthy.”
–“Transitioning to building my own massage practice instead of relying on the spa to fill my time.”
-“Everything. Especially, things we are passionate about. In short, happiness, love, passion, kindness, empathy are all important traits to hone and develop even if I stumble and screw up sometimes. I fail and I learn.”
-“Trying to save a life.”
-“Whatever makes you happy while you’re doing it is worth failing at.”
-“Learning another language.”
-“If you have a real desire to do something you should try. I like to write and I have written some things but never anything worth publishing. But I enjoyed it even if I am not a writer. If you always wanted to climb a mountain do what it takes to learn and try even if you don’t make the summit.”
-“Fighting for what you believe in, pursuing something you’re passionate about, and trying to quit a bad habit.”
-“Parenting and writing. Being a parent means failing every day. At the end of the day, you’re confronted with that failure and you grow from it. I always say that the best parents are the ones who feel like constant failures because they are the ones constantly evaluating their approach and getting it right really f***ing matters to them.”
-“Trying to prevent war.”
-“I think taking care of my mental health and self-care is worth doing even if I fail…When I try something and it doesn’t work, I learn a little more about myself.”
-“Being kind and teaching my kids to be kind.”
-“Trying to brighten someone’s day… No matter the outcome!”
-“Any skill you want to master is worth doing even if you fail because failure is inevitable when you’re trying to become good at something… I’ve been trying to apply it to my music practice and dreams and goals in that area.”
-“Starting my own business.”
-“I think it is most important to just be yourself. There is no one else like you. Make the world a better place for you having been here. It doesn’t matter if our contributions are small. We don’t all have to do great things. Somewhere along the way, we will touch someone’s life. It doesn’t matter if we feel like we could have done more.”
– “Trying to save our habitat on Earth.”
-“I think most things are, particularly if it is something you are passionate about and want to get better at. Failing is part of learning and improving. Failing can also be a way of figuring out that you don’t actually like something, which gives you the opportunity to move on to something else you might enjoy more.”
-“Being vulnerable and completely open and honest in my marriage.”
Your turn. How would you answer this question?