Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Fail Better

I can't remember what I was listening to...

but I do remember that I was driving and I was alone and it was glorious.

You know those moments where you're zoned on autopilot, driving to some location that you could navigate to in your sleep and all of a sudden, you hear something in the background that catches your attention.

It must have been a program on NPR and the interviewer was quoting the famous Irish playwright, Samuel Beckett, to which he said,

"Ever tried.  Ever failed.  No matter.  Try again.  Fail again.  Fail better."

And I was riveted. 

Lately, I've been passionate about the concept of imperfection.  After so many moons of needing to be in control, worried about what others think or how I'm perceived, I've decided that the messy life full of authentic, real, raw relationships is the place I want to be.

I just simply don't have the energy, the means or the interest in putting on a show.

That said, there are parts of me that want to get better and I find that when it gets down to it, I will push, but often stop when it's clear that if I push harder, I will most likely fail.

This happened to me during my most recent race.  I really wanted to PR or set a new personal record.  Once you run a race of a specific distance like a half marathon, you have a benchmark time.  Every subsequent race allows you the opportunity to run it faster or to arrive at a new PR.

Not knowing the course since the race was in its inaugural year, I decided that I would join a pace group.  The question was do I join the group that is 10 minutes faster than my current PR or 10 minutes slower?  Do I start fast and try to keep the pace or do I start slow, conserve my energy and then shoot out of the gate with a few miles left?

I started with the slower pace group because this is who I am at heart...radically fearful that I won't be able to hack the pace.  And then literally less than two miles in, I took off, because that's also the person I am, fearful that I won't actualize my full potential if I don't and not very good at staying the course.

I was jamming for the first 10 miles and then, the monotony of the course hit, my mojo started waning and all of the sudden, I saw my original pace group not far behind me.  Instantaneously, I kicked it into gear and ran as hard as I could vowing that I would leave everything I had on the course.

I PR'd but only by two minutes...not a huge win, but encouraging nonetheless.

In 2014, my mantra was "Fuck Fear."  It served me well.  I ran my first marathon, a 78-mile relay race and a half marathon.  I started writing more.  And I got closer to pushing the envelope with relationships that were important to me.

In 2015, I'm leaning towards, "Fail better."  I want to go bigger, bolder, harder knowing that I'm absolutely going to fall on my face in the process, but that there won't be any regrets hanging by the wayside.

I read today that Sam Simon, co-creator of The Simpsons is dying of colon cancer.  He's giving his $100 million fortune away to charity.  At the age of 59, he said that cancer, while painful and heart breaking teaches you very quickly about what's important.  And it's not money.  It's going after what makes your heart sing and helping others pursue their dreams along the way.

Maybe we should all seek to fail better.

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