I am a Virgo. I like structure, organization, and most of all things done my way. So it drives me absolutely batty when halfway into a project someone changes their mind on what it is they want. You can’t change the objective of a project when you are ¾ of the way into implementing it. You can’t change the mission of an organization the day before a huge public relations event. You would never change the title of a motion picture the night of it’s premier. Some things you just can’t do. There is a time and place for debate, for pondering the perfect direction. But eventually a time comes when you have to move on. You make a decision and you stick with it. You defend it. You go down with the ship as Dido so elegantly puts it. So sure there is a time to jump out if you want to keep from drowning, but most of us never reach that moment. We start to panic too early. Our heart starts racing, our stomach is tied up in knots, and we are ready to abandon projects that we might have spent years on.
Honestly, this past week I have been contemplating abandoning the novel I have been working on. Why? Because it doesn’t live up to the standards of my writing peers. Because the plot is not as fleshed out as I would like it to be. Because maybe this is all just a silly dream with no chance of ever actually seeing the light of day. I can think of hundreds of reasons to bail out. Most of them very rational reasons, but lots of things sound rational when you are in panic mode. Just like lots of things sound rational to drunk that don’t sound rational to someone sober.
The truth is most of my panic is rooted in fear. Fear of failure. Fear that no matter how much effort I put into this, I will never reach my goal.
Let me say that again. The truth it of it is, that most of my panic is rooted in fear of failure. And let’s be honest, in the American society it is better to have never tried something, then to have tried and failed. The stigma on failing is severe, so severe that it paralyzes us early on in life and keeps most of us from fulfilling our dreams. The key is, you cannot be afraid of failure. You must sit back, enjoy the ride and be understand that success comes in the act of doing. One of my favorite all-time quotes is by Michelangelo, and he says “I am still learning…” I love that quote because in all of its simplicity it still rings true. Life is about learning, and learning involves both trying and failing. I am still learning and I hope that you are too.