Defined by the dictionary as, “lack of success, non-fulfillment, defeat, collapse”.
We as a society don’t use the word failure often. We don’t fail our school-aged children. We give everyone who competes in races participant ribbons. We give feedback instead of criticism. We describe our weaknesses as “non-strengths” and our shortcomings as “opportunities to grow”.
We shy away from the word failure because it’s considered harsh, blunt, rude and cringeworthy.
Friend and mentor Ellie – who has been tantamount to my growth as a woman, entrepreneur and human being – has often discussed with me about the importance of teaching children resiliency. Her learning and core belief in this area is that children should be taught that just because I failed I am not a failure; and that an evolved and resilient child would have the wherewithal to identify within themselves or a situation as failure. I failed. I can try again. I have what it takes.
I failed at Dirty Kanza 200 yesterday. I didn’t complete the race, unable to make the cut off for the second checkpoint. I failed to complete Dirty Kanza 200, an athletic feat that was the centrepiece of my 2016, has absorbed my blood, sweat tears and time- my precious time! – since December 2015. Failure. The more I sit with it on my tongue, the more I roll it around, the more I play with it the more comfortable I am. I failed, but I am not a failure.
I know that I need time and space to contemplate yesterday in full before I provide a deeper reflection about the experience, but as I form my story about my experience at DK 200 I choose to use the word failure. I will not shy away from the fact I was handed the first DNF of my athletic career, I will not shy away from the word fail.
I failed, but I am not a failure.
DK 200 pondering, coming soon.