Have you ever experienced a failure so bad that it stopped you from taking another chance on something big or small? I know it stopped me before...
Failing is one of the best things that ever happened to my life and it changed everything for me.
Previously mentioned I was born with Cerebral Palsy, I have literally and figuratively hit “rock bottom”, but what that taught was how to climb my way back to the top. I had to face and overcome my own failures: I was always viewed as different, because of my disability and that made me inadequate & incapable.
I was predicted to fail because of this difference: easy target for abuse (70% of all disabled people experience some form of abuse in their lives), living at home with no job (only a third of people with disabilities are employed, whereas 76% of non-disabled people are from ages 16-64), finally addicted to medications for pain management. Predictions can have a devastating effect on our ability to act if we are already told how “impossible or dire” our goal is before we start, is it even worth it? That is just an excuse for the fear of failure. Facing our darkest fear of failure can incredible empowerment for ourselves, when I was a child I underwent invasive surgery: my legs were literally twisted and torn apart. I really did lose my walking ability and had to re-learn how to move at age 8. In that moment of extreme pain and anguish, I had to take personal responsibility to bring myself out of the pain and stand tall once again, take ownership of what I really wanted, there was no one else who could help me. I had to claw my way back up, I screeched while literally digging my nails into the dirt, and the walls overcoming excruciating pain to stand tall despite it all. It was the best decision I could have ever made: I took responsibility for what would happen in my life and I felt empowered to finish what I started.
There is an incredible passion within me to push mental and physical limitations, sports was a natural space for me to express that passion for overcoming challenge. In my youth I was originally excluded from competing in multiple sports, “too weak, too slow, too small or too limited” were just some of the reasons I heard when I tried out for teams. Earlier on I understood this was the norm for me and rather than focus on conceding defeat in exclusion, I shifted focus to contributing in sports as a coach, manager or administrator. My plan worked perfectly: I had grown my knowledge and skills where I was in graduate school for sports, working as a front office director for a division 1 sports program, and youth coach for an MLS franchise: the LA galaxy. On the surface this was looking like mission accomplished, but I was stuck. There was a disconnect that I could not figure out I had been getting high interest and interviews everywhere, but I never once got a call back. Ever. Why? It became clear when my superior stated: “you do not have experience or ability to work with athletes”. This was a failure of the highest order, I allowed others to use my difference as limiting factor to my potential. I went into a deep depression because I refused to acknowledge my difference as a part of who I am.
I had to acknowledge my path was flawed what I was doing was not leveraging my personal strengths correctly. The discrimination because I was different was hurtful, but more damage was done by not being happy with my work. I acknowledged then confronted my personal failure and quickly realized my strengths that would bring exponentially more value to others around me: empowerment, motivation, and communication. The failure became a bridge to something better, my company ProneToRide and full commitment to surfing. This idea was at first not well received by close friends and family, changing an ascending career to start all over surfing and owning a small business? Sounds crazy. I had to block out the doubt.
What others perceived was not my reality, I had already accomplished more than what was expected of me: I was supposed to be an abused, jobless addict who was broken according to the stats. It was time to write my own script and transition to what fulfillment and happiness looked like for myself. In truth, I had already transitioned twice before that point, and what I am doing now was the third.
I’ve never been happier because of the failures I experienced. I acknowledged what brought about the unhappiness and mistakes, what I got in return was how I could give more value to myself and others. The focus shifted to what priorities were important to my life, giving me clarity and control: I made better decisions for my overall happiness and success. I accepted that life was more grey than black and white, this means change and transition is natural with our journey: embrace the natural transitions and move forward within reason.
You too will be far happier with failing. Keep Charging.