My little 2 year old boy, Noah, has a tendency to run without looking where he is going. He is often too enthusiastic or caught up in the moment to care about something as trivial as where he feet are and what might be in front of them. As a result, he trips up a lot, bumps into things and gets knocked down on a regular basis. I think this is a common occurrence for happy toddlers. But I have noticed that by the time I can be half way through calling out to him to see if he is okay – he is already getting back up and is off running again. Falling down and getting back up, are to him, part of the same singular motion.
Somehow, as we get older, that all changes. We still get knocked down but we don’t like it and don’t get up as quick and sometimes don’t get back up at all.
Men in particular have a false perspective that because we are ‘blokes’, we should be tough. Men can often think that feelings are reserved for women. Especially sensitive ones like feelings of inadequacy, or insecurity and disappointment. But this is not the case. As a man, I have felt feelings of guilt, depression and discouragement. But I have seen too many other men, experience such feelings and then give up trying for fear of how it makes them look to others. The fear of being seen to fail is crippling for many men. But the great challenge with this is that it shackles them to a life of mediocrity. Destined to swim in shallow waters, never really failing, but never really succeeding either – many just stagnate unaware that it is this fear of failure that is holding them back.
We come into this life innocent, inexperienced, and utterly imperfect. There is something incredibly liberating in acknowledging our imperfections. Not to make excuses, but to be authentic. Keep in mind – we shouldn’t tolerate our inadequacies. Our mission is to fight against them and to improve. But we cannot improve upon them if we fail to admit they exist or if we never fight against them in the first place for fear of failure.
C.S. Lewis once said, “No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good. A silly idea is current that good people do not know what temptation means. This is an obvious lie. Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is. After all, you find out the strength of the German army by fighting against it, not by giving in. You find out the strength of a wind by trying to walk against it, not by lying down. A man who gives into temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later. That is why bad people, in one sense, know very little about badness – they have lived a sheltered life by always giving in.”
I want to encourage everyone who reads this post to fight against the fear of failure. This is a temptation that afflicts many people and prevents them from achieving their true potential. Don’t give in after five minutes. Keep fighting it. Stand up against the wind. We learn more about ourselves when we fight our natural fears and become willing to get up each time we fall. Who cares if it’s it a public failure – get back up and keep moving forward. And to the men that are reading, remember that true toughness is not found in hiding from failure, but in being like my son Noah. Fall down and get back up in a single motion. I am grateful for small children that can teach me what it means to be a real man. Run at life. Accept the bumps and bruises and get up quickly each time you fall.