Today, I want to introduce a concept that is so big, so awesome, so potentially transformational, that I’m practically paralyzed just thinking about it.
You see, I don’t have the words to convey such an important concept.
No matter how I turn it around in my mind, my words fall short. I fail.
Yet, here I am, about to spew the secret of all secrets, the secret that can change everything… anyway.
Because if I don’t try, I just fail.
If I do attempt to talk about this concept as clearly and simply as I possibly can, then there is the chance that I might fail magnificently.
There it is. That is the secret.
To know without doubt that failure will be the outcome. And then, to do it anyway and to fail as magnificently as possible in the process.
Perhaps a bit of back-story would be helpful.
Last spring, I attended a workshop-ceremony with Martin Prechtel, a Mayan shaman. Over the course of a weekend he wove together legends, myths, nature, personal stories and the present reality into this brilliant tapestry of interconnection.
It was there that I first heard about failing magnificently.
You see, in the Mayan worldview, there is nothing that humans can do, ever, that can begin to rival what already is – the interconnection, beauty, wonder, abundance and sacredness of (and in) nature. Or, as Martin describes it, the Holy in Nature.
From this perspective, anything we attempt is going to fall short. There is no such thing as success. There can only be failure.
Instead of being depressed by the thought that nothing will ever be good enough and it is impossible to succeed at anything, indigenous Mayans learn to fail magnificently.
To do whatever they are doing with as much creativity, beauty, grace, and skill as possible so that they can fail as magnificently as possible.
Through failing with as much magnificence as is humanly possible, the Holy in Nature is fed and the beneficial relationship between humans and nature is honored and maintained.
Now, whether or not you embrace this particular worldview matters not at all.
What does matter is the concept itself… which I’ll get back to in a second.
Personally, I’m terrified of failing.
There have been countless times that I simply haven’t done things (even things, especially things, that had a great deal of meaning to me) because I was afraid of
- failing miserably, or
- just barely succeeding and it feeling like a failure.
Occasionally, I’ve just made a half-assed attempt so that I could have a reason for failing. “Yeah, it didn’t happen but I didn’t put much into it. I could’ve tried a lot harder.” (Sound familiar?)
Further, there have been other times when my vision of how success should look has been so narrow that what others might deem a success, I’ve seen as a failure.
In short, fear of failure has often kept me from fully engaging, from taking risks, from really pursuing things of deep personal meaning.
Magnificent Failure takes Fear of Failure completely out of the picture.
Magnificent Failing allows us to:
- Relax – if you know you are going to fail no matter what, there is no pressure (to succeed, to meet some goal, to win).
- Feel safe – there is nothing to fear if the outcome is already determined.
- Take more risks and have more adventures along the way.
- Be creative, think outside the box. If there is no One Way that success (or failure) has to look, the options for how to fail magnificently are only limited by our imagination.
- Go for the long shot. Allows the ‘Well, it’s a long shot but we might as well go for it” mentality to flourish.
- Be a hero! Think of all the great moments when the hero overcomes all odds to save the day (or the girl). Of course, even saving the girl would be a failure under this framework, but, Oh! What a Magnificent Failure!
Magnificent Failure asks us to:
- Engage more in the process, in the journey, in the In-Between.
- Take risks and be magnificently creative.
- Engage more of ourselves – our dreams, our gifts, our innate skills and talents in beautiful and creative ways.
- Abandon our thoughts of what success means and how it should look and to engage fully in the process itself.
- Shift our focus away from ourselves/success and towards how everything we do can contribute in a beautiful and meaningful way to our planet, to our community, to the Holy in Nature.
I’ll end with words of blessing and thanksgiving –
Words that were repeated throughout the entire weekend – words that still echo through my mind and body. I wish you:
Honey in the Heart,
13 Thank Yous.
This concept is HUGE. And, it’s one that I want to embody.
I want to begin to give myself permission to take more risks, to put all of me into the things I love, and to know that it is ok to fail.
That, in fact, failure is the only option. And, that it’s safe to fully engage because no matter the outcome, I know my personal goal is to fail magnificently.
Right now, this concept is just barely, barely beginning to sink into my body. I’d love to hear encouragement, your stories of magnificent failure, and/or how this concept might affect your life if you were to play with it.
And, as always, just saying hi is adored as well. 🙂
Also: Portlanders! Want to practice the art of Magnificent F(l)ailure? Join me for an Introduction to Shiva Nata workshop this Sunday.
Magnificent Failing: this is oh so perfect. It makes me want to leap into things and glory in all the human failing-ness of it!
I also loved this part: honey in the heart. <3 <3 <3 <3 <3
Oh, that’s beautiful. “leaping into and glorying in the all the human failing-ness!” I <3 *that.*
Wow. This may take awhile to sink in, but oh my, thank you (13 Thank Yous)!!
I so know what you mean. I was first introduced to this concept nearly a year ago and it is just *this* week that it’s beginning to sink in. 🙂
Larisa, your words will remain stuck to my honey’d heart.
This is really magnificent. Thank you x 13!
Thank *you*, Rupa!
Sue T says
I feel what you mean about this concept being hard to wrap one’s head around. Actually, I think you did a wonderful job of describing it and I just need to read, and re-read, and re-read. And apply. Here’s a beginning–
So, says the voice of one of my smarty-pants procrastination monsters, when I’m not doing something I *should* be doing, right now, I’m magnificently failing at it. No, no … that isn’t right! Or, when I’m not really trying, it’s a magnificent failure. Nope, not that either.
And to translate into the concrete: OK, how about doing my taxes, and the ones for my mom’s estate, that I have been procrastinating on for over two years now. It’s not just the paperwork that I’m stuck on, apparently. Oh, wait, what’s the deep personal meaning there? Hmm…I know what it is, and I’ve been ignoring it because the fear monster says, you clearly aren’t good enough or capable enough to understand the peculiarities of the estate forms and tax forms for two different states, and therefore neither is your deep personal meaning (good enough), which is a flat-out lie.
I think I should use some more honey on this rich meal.
Yes, it is difficult to wrap one’s head around. Totally. For me it is helpful to ask ‘am I engaging as much of me as possible in this endeavor?’ If I am, then it’s likely I am on the road to Failing Magnificently. 🙂
The best to you and your taxes!
I love this idea that even though our human plans and efforts might result in something unexpected. Our efforts and energy can still feed the spirits by creating beauty. This beauty is the gift. The gift is to one another, to the other world and to our ancestors. Our gifts feed the other world and honors our ancestors.
Then there is space and an opportunity for the unexpected to get involved. For unforeseen consequences to happen. If I can give beauty then I’m more likely to recognize it and receive it in my own life. This is a relational perspective as opposed to a ‘myself as the center of the universe’ perspective. The indigenous mind vs the modern.
Imagine what the world would be like if more people were invested in creating beauty and honoring the Holy?
Thank you for reminding me of this and starting this conversation.
This sounds a lot like permission to go for the impossible dream, just to see how close you can approximate it. Also, lots of compassion and joy for the process. I totally agree with everything you wrote, thanks for sharing!
Jen Hofmann says
Wow. I think the earth just tilted on its axis a little as I read this. What a concept to fail magnificently instead of exhaust myself with strivestrivestriving. Thank you for this gift! <3
Larisa Noonan says
Ah, lovely! The earth tilting just a bit can be a beautiful thing, can’t it? <3
Toi Lynn Wyle says
So many soul filling words here. Everything you said…. Yes! Feels like one big beautiful Yes! Invites me to risk the wild fall in order to fly. I’m
About to embark on a new, big adventure, and fear keeps wanting to take the wheel. Not my normal response to risk. But your perfectly timed words remind me that the bigger the fear, the bigger the magnificent fall, the bigger the attempt. Thank you, dear Larissa. A deep breath, and here I go….. ( much love to you ).
Larisa Noonan says
Much love to you, too, Toi! Wow. I cannot wait to hear about your new, big adventure. Yes, it must be HUGE for you to be having such a strong fear response. Sending even more love and support your way. <3