Life imitates art, so the saying goes. I haven’t given that notion much thought until now, but it seems like all of my worlds — my creative world, my professional world, my personal world — are suddenly tied together in the most interesting ways. As George Costanza so eloquently said in Seinfeld, “My worlds are colliding!”
Here I am, in perhaps one of the most stressful times I’ve experienced in I don’t know how long, trying to get it all done – keep my house clean for realtors, manage my kid’s camp schedule, pack, figure out how to move animals overseas, meet the deadline for my upcoming book, and pack some more.
And, wouldn’t you know it, the book I’m writing for teens just happens to be about how to get things done. Doable: How to Accomplish Just About Anything lays out my 8-step approach for tackling absolutely any to do. And while I normally love the opportunity to test all of the theories I include in a book, frankly a few less obstacles would be nice. Just this week alone I’ve had a lost cat, a sick dog, an issue at my son’s camp that required a quick change of plans, and house buyers who got cold feet the day before we started escrow. And it’s only Wednesday.
I’m on the home stretch of my first draft, and just finished the second-to-last chapter on Monday. That chapter, entitled Dealing with Setbacks, talks about how failures and setbacks are part of working towards anything. The key isn’t to resist the setbacks or make them mean something about our ability achieve what we set out to do, but rather it’s about accepting, even welcoming, the setbacks and failures, allowing ourselves to experience the emotions they bring up in us, and exploring what’s really going on with curiosity and flexibility.
Really, it’s about rolling with the punches and moving forward. And it’s about embracing the gifts of failures and setbacks. Even if you can’t come up with a “reason” for why things are happening the way they are or you’re unable to see the flip side of the circumstances, by its very nature, failure is a positive thing.
Failure is feedback. Nothing more, nothing less. Failure is information that tells us something isn’t working or there’s a better way.
Failure and setbacks build grit. And the more setbacks we face, the more we grow the traits of perseverance and resilience.
Failure results in creativity. True innovation and creativity is almost always the result of failure.
Failure begets self-knowledge. According to author Gretchen Rubin, self-knowledge is the key to happiness. (And I believe her.)
What benefits have you experienced from failure and setbacks in your life? What is your secret to rolling with the punches?