April 18, 2017 by naomi
Dare to Fail
Do you remember when you first tried to do a cartwheel? How easy was it for you to take a running start and plant your weight firmly onto your hands, flipping your feet up off the floor?
Or maybe you didn’t take a running start. Maybe you tried to play it safe, and rather than elegantly flipping heels over head, you flopped ungracefully onto the floor. Even if you did take a running start, you probably tumbled onto the ground at least once as you practiced and worked out the mechanics.
In theatre class, when we teach circle games, we often also teach the students to strike a “superstar” pose when a mistake is made. The point of the parameters in a circle game isn’t to humiliate people when they make a mistake. The point of parameters is to push players to engage with more intensity. Games are more fun when there’s a risk of failure. There’s an energy and excitement to taking on a challenge. There’s mystery, too. Will we succeed? Will we fail? What will happen?
Playing at the edge of your boundary, out where you might succeed and you might fail, where you honestly don’t know what will happen, is exciting. These boundaries are where surprises show up. They are where we make break-throughs.
- Choose a project.
- Dare to fail. In your next creative session, dare to create badly. Dare to write badly, or to be a bad actor. Let go of being careful. Forget what you know about craft and just throw yourself into creating.
- After you’re done, reflect on the experience. Much of what you did may have been over the top or poorly executed, and yet, you might find bits and pieces that have potential, too. When you throw caution to the wind, you move into new territory, and new territory tends to be full of discovery.
Daring to fail, even privately, isn’t easy. We like the idea of being accomplished, and it can bruise our ego to experience the humiliation of doing something poorly. And yet, it’s important to consider: How will you know what you’re capable of, if you don’t push beyond your comfort zone?
Daring to fail is like taking a running start at a cartwheel. You throw yourself into it, and learn from what works and what doesn’t. What might you be capable of, if you stop tiptoeing and go ahead and take a running start?