Willing to fail…

“There is no innovation and creativity without failure. Period.”

Brene Brown

Steve Jobs is the first person that comes to mind for me as a great innovator and creator. But he had many many failures along the way, and learned from each of them. Those failures are what allowed him to become great.

The great innovators are willing to take risks because they know they will learn from both failure and success. Not everything they attempt will work, but they are willing to fail.

Are you willing to fail? Are you willing to fall short and then figure out why? Are you able to set aside ego and fear long enough to stretch outside your comfort zone? Are you willing to fail in order to learn?

If you aren’t willing then you won’t stretch, you won’t grow, you won’t create. If you want to innovate you have to be willing to fail because failure will happen and that is when the real magic can occur.

Who is in the arena with you?

“A lot of cheap seats in the arena are filled with people who never venture onto the floor. They just hurl mean-spirited criticisms and put-downs from a safe distance. The problem is, when we stop caring what people think and stop feeling hurt by cruelty, we lose our ability to connect. But when we’re defined by what people think, we lose the courage to be vulnerable. Therefore, we need to be selective about the feedback we let into our lives. For me, if you’re not in the arena also getting your ass kicked, I’m not interested in your feedback.”

Brene Brown

I heard this quote referenced by someone that I really respect yesterday and had to go look it up. Specifically the quote that she referenced was: “if you’re not in the arena also getting your ass kicked, I’m not interested in your feedback.” I love that last sentence but I think I appreciate the wisdom in the prior lines just as much.

It is so easy for people to get in the arena and feel that they have the right to criticize and attack simply because they are present. Don’t believe this is true? Sit in any football stadium in America and listen to the fans around you. You will hear things like “that referee is blind,”“the quarterback missed a wide open receiver, he can’t throw the ball,” and “the coaches don’t know what they are doing.” Are the fans right? Maybe sometimes they are. But they aren’t the ones on the field. They don’t have the pressure of having to perform in front of others, they can simply sit there and offer input without having had to invest any blood, sweat or tears. Now I have been guilty of doing this plenty of times myself and unfortunately it isn’t just when I have been at a sporting event…

I believe that the most beautiful wisdom in the quote is contained in the lines right before the part about getting your ass kicked: “The problem is, when we stop caring what people think and stop feeling hurt by cruelty, we lose our ability to connect. But when we’re defined by what people think, we lose the courage to be vulnerable. Therefore, we need to be selective about the feedback we let into our lives.

Who are you letting into your life? Who are you giving permission to provide feedback that truly matters and is meaningful? Are those people in the arena with you?

There are really two ways a person can be in the arena. They can be there in the literal sense, side by side in the fight. Or they can be there with you in spirit fighting alongside you and supporting your struggle. The key is that they are fighting with you, not attacking you. They are on your side. If they aren’t then they truly aren’t in the arena with you, or perhaps they are, they are just on the other side of the sword…

The arena quote that Brene is pulling from is one of my all time favorites and I have a copy of it on a plaque in my office that I reference regularly. Here it is in it’s entirety:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Teddy Roosevelt

To trust, look in the mirror…

“Trust is earned in the smallest of moments. It is earned not through heroic deeds, or even highly visible actions, but through paying attention, listening, and gestures of genuine care and connection.”

Brene Brown

Trust is a gift. If you want to give that gift to others, and have them trust you in turn, you must first pay attention to oneself. Are you showing genuine care and connection for others? Are you listening? Are you paying attention? Are you looking for reasons to trust someone, or reasons not to trust?

Trust is a mirror and you can only see one thing when you look in the mirror. Yourself…

Courage > Comfort

“You can choose courage, or you can choose comfort, but you cannot choose both.”

Brené Brown

Which of these appeals more to you? It is easy to say “courage” but then you have to follow it up with action. I think another way of saying this is “You can choose change, or you can choose complacency, but you cannot choose both.”

It takes courage to change. It takes courage to recognize that something needs to be better. It takes courage to take action and hold yourself accountable to a higher standard than anyone else.

If you choose comfort that is your choice. Just don’t be upset if you don’t achieve what you dream about. It takes courage not comfort to achieve your dreams.

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