Tuesday, February 17, 2015

How We Win

Author Barry Lyga gave a keynote at YAK Fest 2015 about how life is about failing. How we learn and grow from the very act of not succeeding. And for all Barry's success, the man has failed a lot.

So often we are told to be the best. Number one at all costs. Perfection without rejection. Zero failure. But that is soooooo loaded. By whose standards are these? More often than not, they aren't our own and so plays that Song of the Year

"You + Failure = Bad"

And maybe it's some version of Iggy Azalea and/or Drake singin' in your head:

Let me hear you
Hate on me
'Cause I suck at everything
Never get it right
Let me hear you hate on me

'Cause I fail shit all the time ...
Everything I do ain't right
Why even try?
I hate on me

And we learn this degrading tune, making it out mantra. 


Now, I'm not suggesting failing out of school, failing to pay your phone bill or even failing to take personal responsibility for your actions is on the up and cool so you can "learn." That would be a negatory. 

What I believe is that we get knocked down. Sometimes a little harder than expected or needed, but it is how we rise back up. How we stand in our self when back on our two badass feet that determines the "what's next."

Yeah, I know. This is all a little woo-heavy. Humor me. It's a day in the week ending in "Y," and I am thinking on this because it has circled in conversation all around me lately. 



How the Double F has so much power in grid locking us from taking reasonable risks. Like risks when writing, drawing, painting, slamming -- speaking our truth or passion through image. How this Double F keeps us from being heard. 

What if I fail?

I say fail. Word!

I dare you to fail. Fail with abandon and absolute unbridled you-missed-the-mark. 

You will grow.

Multiple award-winning author Pat Zietlow Miller received 126 rejection letters before publishing her first book. 126! That's a whole lotta fail, but ask her if she didn't grow. 

I tell my friends when they are afraid to ask someone for what they need, "What's the worst thing that can happen? They can say no, right? Well, if you don't ask, it's already a no."

We are so terrified to be made vulnerable and real and possibly be rejected. It keeps us from reaching our potential. Then we get all manifesty and scream the profane at some dude or dudette that cut us off on I-99. Or we self-deprecate when we feel vulnerable. Fear and the possibility of failure keeps us trapped. 


I'm an author, a filmmaker and artivist. I dream big and hard and live with a lot of passion, hope and creativity. It's not a perfect life, but as lives go I'm lucky. See, I get to excite and empower young people ... I have this precious opportunity to mirror back their best selves. And working with them mirrors to me things I never imagined I could do. But I have failed A LOT to get to this place. 

Repeat the lyric: But I have failed A LOT to get to this place. 

And I will fail again. 

Because in this epic result of human imperfection, I, like you, can't always get it right. But what I can do and what you can do is make that failure your teacher. Learn from it. Don't hit Repeat bad mantra song. 

Write a new ending. One where you don't stop living your hope, truth and voice because you are afraid ...

To fail.

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