Cynthia Viola Photography

Being OK with Failure

PersonalCynthia Viola6 Comments
Success—in paddle boarding and in life—is simply the ability to stand after each fall, learn from mistakes, and willing yourself to get better.
— Jasmine Star

Failure is not a word many people like to talk about. Myself included. 

It screams broken dreams and skinned knees and last chances.

Failure is like the monster hiding at the bottom of the lake threatening to drag you down, but you hope if you just ignore him, maybe you'll never have to face him. The problem with that theory is you will definitely have to face him, and if you find yourself looking him right in the eye unprepared he will, in fact, pull you under. 

My dad always told me if I fell off the horse I had to get right back on, that same day, that same minute. We were never riding horses when he said this so I was a little confused at first but when I wrecked my first bike and scraped my elbows, he didn't even blink when I looked up at him with my big, green, pouty eyes begging to quit, "Nope," he said, "You get right back on there." 

When I stalled the car over and over learning my first manual transmission and in anger was ready to give up, "Nope," he grinned, "It's time to try hills next."

Owning your own business is no different. I didn't go to school for accounting or business or even photography so I have had my fair share of days staring down that monster. From not realizing I needed to keep a separate business account (until my second year), failing to have a back up SD card on a shoot when one corrupted forcing me to reschedule the shoot, to actually being fired from a wedding a few years back when a couple didn't just love their engagement photos. 

All of these moments and hundreds more I don't have space to write about, were enough to drag me down, but I feel like becoming friends with that lake monster almost 30 years ago prepared me to swim around comfortably with him today. He catches me off guard sometimes and it takes me longer to catch my breath but I've learned to watch for him and when I see him coming we begin a dance. With each routine my muscles grown stronger and my wit gets sharper. 

If I hadn't gotten back on the bike, I wouldn't know the joy of a 230 mile ride to the coast with my love last year, or the exhilaration of racing full speed over roots and rocks down a mountain bike trail. If I'd given up on the manual I wouldn't appreciate the power always at your fingertips or know the satisfaction of winning a drag race. If I had let the failure monster take me down without a fight I'd be miserable - working my way from one bartending job to the next.

Stephen McCranie once said, "The master has failed more times than the beginner has even tried." If it requires thousands and thousands of failures to become a master, then bring on the thousands more yet to come.

I invite you to join me on the journey of failure. It will be hard fought with skinned knees and bruised egos, but well worth the mastery on the other side.