Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Living in the Gray Twilight

So one of the things that has struck me while watching the Olympics is how many of the athletes competing fail. This is not to say that they are not great athletes, but they fail. They make the games and then do not even get past the preliminary rounds of competition. So many men and women go home empty-handed. The reason these athletes stick out to me is because I have a HUGE fear of failure [atychiphobia]. Most of the time I mask this fear by saying I don't want to lose or don't like doing something, but in reality I hold back because I am scared to fail. Scared to fall on my face. I could not participate in the Olympics because I would be afraid of being that guy who got dead last in the preliminary heat [well and let's be honest I cannot run, swim, or do any other athletic competition even close to Olympic competition]. Being a fan of Teddy Roosevelt quotes, I always come back to the famous - "Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat." How many things (not just athletics) do I miss out on because I am afraid of failing? How many enjoyments and sufferings have I missed out on because I have not taken a step forward to see what might happen? I am constantly living in the gray twilight. Afraid of stepping forth on any real adventure because I have made a conscious decision to stay with safe & boring to prevent failure from happening. Sure I do not suffer much but I also think I prevent myself from enjoying much. I must ask myself is the life, job, decisions I am making today really what I want to do and think God wants me to do, or have I allowed myself to fall safely into a security blanket that does protect but at the cost of truly living. As proud as I am of Michael Phelps and his quest for 8 gold medals, I am just as proud of all the athletes who gave it their all to get to the Olympics and then fell into dead last place. They avoided the gray I wish I could do the same.


Jeremy said...

I'm about to do something that I've never done before: quote a country song on a blog.

Your post reminds me of the old Garth Brooks song "The Dance." A line in the song describes what you are talking about. "I could have missed the pain, but I'd have to miss the dance." That is the risk we all must take to truly live. And failure is always looming to scare us.

Wow...look what you are doing to me. And please take the music off your page as it doesn't even load right on my screen.

Romi said...

Wow, Jeremy first you're liking black olives, admitting to secretly loving the Jonas Brothers, and now you're quoting country lyrics...what's next already??! Something is definitely amiss...I guess it's those hormones of impending were told about those, weren't you?? ; )

Anyway, great post, Landon and I so relate to what you shared. Fear of failure for me is similar to Gary Haugen's example of being "stuck in the visitors,warm, and comfy but totally bored outta my mind and in the meantime missing the adventure of a lifetime." Too often I overthink everything and in the process, kill any possibility of doing anything out of my comfort just sucks, plain and simple. In most cases, the pain of regret of missed opportunities is a million times worse than the initial fear of failing at it. All the "what might have beens" have this knack of following me around.

Maybe we should implement what the ancient Greeks did and "burn the boats!" When Greek armies traveled across the sea to do battle, the first thing they would do after landing was to burn the boats, leaving them stranded. With no way to make it home besides victory, the resolve of the soldiers was strengthened. When success and failure are the only options, you have no choice but to follow through. I like how fear of failure disappears when you realize it can’t save you.

I never knew this, but Babe Ruth who was baseball’s all-time home run king was also the all-time strikeout champion. He struck out almost twice as often as he hit home runs. He knew that he had to risk striking out in order to hit those home runs. When asked for the secret of his success, Ruth replied, “I just keep on swingin’ at ‘em!”

Winston Churchill said, “Success is never final; failure is never fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts.” Guess it's time to get out of the visitors center, keep swingin', and burn some boats!!

Romi said...

Ooooh...I forget to recommend a good book "Embracing Fear ~ Turning what scares us into our greatest gift" by Thom Rutledge. It was really helpful to me.

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