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“Life Gets Interesting When We Fail…”

Did this get your attention? It did mine when I saw it in the subject of an email from Ted Talks.

It got my attention for a couple of reasons I think:

First, because I don’t normally associate “failure” with “interesting” …and especially not when that failure is connected to my life! Most of us would call failure a “set back”, an embarrassing loss, a sign we aren’t meant to do it, depleting, or disheartening – wouldn’t we? That’s the tempting first reaction to feelings of failure. It is a fear response.

After that first “yeah right” reaction to the juxtaposition of the words, “life’ “fail” “interesting, my second reaction was CURIOSITY – I felt an inner daring to peek out from my first reaction and to look at this a little closer.

My third reaction was “Boy is that right on!”

These three responses probably occurred in about a third of a second as I came to land on the third response and that “something potent here” inner feeling that I’ve learned to follow.

Oddly enough, I deal daily in failure everyday. You could say I specialize in fear of failure. I don’t mean that I am a failure — although I’ve experienced plenty of what most would call failure. In truth, I’ve rarely seen my failures as, well, “failures” – and so my intrigue with this one line that came into my email box today.

In my unusual vocation as a spiritual teacher and guide, I work with people every day who come to me searching for help, seeking healing, clarity, and renewed direction …Renewed direction from what?

…Most would say they are seeking solutions to situations and circumstances in life that are making them feel stuck, fearful or failed: stuck in a destructive lifestyle; fearful of remaining lost, depressed, and going around in circles; wounded from a sense of failed love in marriage, parenting, or inability for self-acceptance.

Here are two of the three words: failed life.

When we feel we are lost or not living in a way that brings joy, peace, passion and meaningful purpose, we often start to become depressed. Why? We know we are missing something our heart longs for… but we don’t know how to get it (or are too afraid of what we’d have to give up to get there – if we got there! We feel we are failing at our life in some way. In short, we are feeling a (perhaps unconscious) fear of failure — even though we might very well cloak it in different language.

No one I know calls me and says “gosh I’m failing my life and isn’t this just so interesting?

Yet that is exactly true! When we feel most afraid, stuck, and confused — like we are missing the boat in our life — is exactly when we are being invited to meet up with a new opening and growth in our life… if we but knew how to set about finding and following this trail of an inner wisdom we may doubt we have…

But listen to this: The completing words to the quote at the top of the article:

“Life gets interesting when we fail …because it means we have just surpassed ourselves!”

It means we have surpassed ourselves! It means we have already stepped past the old self in some manner (realized or not) and are in the midst of a newly emerging self! Now that is very very interesting! It’s, in fact, just what we have been seeking and asking for through our feelings of stuck, fear, fail – a new lease on life!

Stuck, Fear, Failure are interesting words because they herald the emergent path of transformation, self-growth, breakthrough, insight and revelation! Those are very exciting words and very adventurous places to walk through and to experience! This emergent call of change, are the places that bring bounce back to the step, sparkle into the eye, laughter bubbling up from the heart, passionate hope for the adventure of living. Who doesn’t want that?


1) As suggested in a recent Ted Talk by scientist Regina Dugan, ask yourself this question: “What would you try if you knew that you could not fail?

2) Really take time with this intriguing question. Take time to see and to daydream about what it would feel like to achieve that thing you would do in life if you knew you could not fail. What would it look like? What would you feel like? Spend a few days letting that daydreamy feeling seep in.

3) Then look at some area in your life where you feel stuck, fearful, or that you have failed. Get a piece of paper out and draw a starting point in the middle of a the paper and then draw a spiral circling out to the edge of the paper – as many turns as you like. (Don’t read ahead

4) Now choose a place to mark 8 more circles all along the spiral at various places you choose (they can be any place you decide to put them).

5) Now add 21 more little X marks along the spiral (again anywhere you feel drawn to put them),

6) Next find one circle or X that calls your attention right now (not the first 2 or the last 2 along the spiral, but any others are OK to select).

7) Now think of one challenging situation in your current life right now (some place where you feel a sense of confusion, angst, doubt or fear) Got it?

8) Go back to that place you selected a moment ago (in #6) and let that mark stand for this current situation in your life.

9) Take a moment to connect all the circles and then to connect all the X’s — and simply notice the pattern against the spiral. Then appreciate that each circle and each X stands for a life crossroad or significant place of challenge and/or growth. Notice how some repeat along the spiral; notice any patterns that stand out for you (even if only an “odd” memory or thought).

10) Reflect back on the quote and this article and look over your spiral of life once more. Look at the journey from the outer edge (representing birth or new or external) as it circles in closer and closer to the center of the spiral (representing your “authentic self, centered self, inner truth”. See if you can appreciate each of the circles and X’s that lead you to your center; how each difficulty was a passage leading you closer to your Self. You might play with the circles standing for the change/outcome/growth and the X’s the hurtles that lead you there. (there are many creative ways to play with this drawing, please feel free to explore them).

11) Finally, simply sit with this concept and your paper – see if you can See inside your heart that: Everything that has happened in your life – everything up to this exact moment — was necessary to bring you to this precise place in your life (it had to, or you wouldn’t be in this exact place!) This exact place – this moment in your life that all other moments have brought you to — is indeed very interesting. It is very interesting because (now as I hope you realize) this moment’s situation, whatever it is, is a sign.

If you are feeling fear, stuck, failure or uncertainty, it is the sign that you have already started to surpass your former self – that you are making, or about to make, another turn inward on your spiral of life.

Stuck. Fear. Failure. Each is a signpost that your life has become too small for your soul; that your own life is seeking to grow and to become more embodied and authentically you.

Moments of seeming failure are signs that you are on your true Way: where stuck transforms into curiosity; failure transforms into creative insight and breakthrough; and fear transforms into self-love and humility.

Bon Voyage!

copyright ronda larue, 2012

overcoming failure ted talk commentary

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