Sunday, August 22, 2010

Failure is Not an Option?

FROM BEARS (Barry Neil Kaufman):
Imagine if you decide, that you cannot fail. Seriously! You decide it's not an option. What if -- failure doesn't exist in the real world but only within the world of our beliefs? Sometimes, we take a test but don't get a passing grade. Sometimes, we ask someone for a date and they say no. Sometimes, we apply for jobs and are not hired. Sometimes, we decide we're not going to order desert after a meal and then do it anyway. Sure, we could use this as a list of personal failures. We didn't hit the mark or reach the goal. But why do we call that failure? We could celebrate that we took the test or went for the job interview or asked for that date. We could notice that stepping out and reach out is a lovely, life-affirming endeavor. And that GETTING (although we want what we want) is not the be-all, end-all of the most effective and self-nourishing way to define ourselves.

Suppose we create a different criteria of self-assessment.
It's all about BEING and DOING and not about GETTING. Yes, we'll get what we reach for from time to time, but we don't have to use that as the way to characterize the wonder (or lack thereof) of who we are. Imagine if you we teaching a child to dance and every time they did the dance step not in accordance to a defined form, imagine then calling that child a failure ("Hey, dummy, what's your problem"). C'mon -- it probably wouldn't enter your mind. You might find yourself saying: "good shot," "terrific movement," "hey, you're stepping out but let's turn instead of going forward." You'd note the effort spent, probably celebrate the effort and give more guidance, maybe while you're smiling and in sincere awe of a youngster doing the best she can to dance. So, if you'd give that child such love and celebration...why not extend the same kindness and appreciation to ourselves?
Hey, what about you never failed? Yes, you judged and when you judged what you missed or didn't accomplished, you called that a failure -- probably to motivate yourself to do better next time. What about every effort, no matter what or when expended, is worthy of your delight praise (celebration) and respect? Wouldn't you do that when you are playing with a baby or a toddler? Wouldn't you do that for someone who has a stroke and is learning to walk again?

C'mon, let's give ourselves a break. Tough task masters who judge are not the best teachers...not for others, not for ourselves. Actually, acceptance and love greases the wheels of learning and change most effectively. We could say that acceptance and love is by far the most important attitudinal educational tool on the planet -- yet, at the same time, it not merely under-rated, it's often ignored. the next time we (you, me) or anyone we're with (spouse, partner, friend, child, parent, neighbor, teacher, waitress, bank teller, cab driver) attempts to do anything (yes, yes, I mean anything), let's just give it a standing ovation. No kidding. Get on our feet and start applauding. No failure happening or entertained. Any movement or behavior taken is a movement or behavior worth noting and celebrating. And, get this -- standing still or remaining in a seated position is also a behavior.

Am I suggesting that we become indiscriminate? Not exactly. We can lobby and do everything we can to support life and kindness verses violence and hate. At the same time, we can see effort, any effort, as the journey of life and not require getting as the reason to see and enjoy the bounty of who we are and who the people are that are in our lives at any given moment.

Ah, what freedom. Ah, what self-appreciation and love. Ah, what nourishing kindness.

Love and smiles, Bears (Barry Neil Kaufman/Co-Founder Option Institute/Autism Treatment Center of America/Son-Rise Program)


  1. Sometimes we feel compelled to hold our past experiences accountable for our present condition. A desire to blame who we are, on what did or did not occur in our lives, tends to overpower our need to be accountable for how we choose to react about it. It is not the action, but the reaction to the stimulus that is most important. To live this attitude is our opportunity to redefine ourselves. So failure never exists, just a past which is a memory and is not here in this moment which is our present. Have an Awesome Day! Your Friend in Success, Neal Elefant

  2. This is it! You know the saying "don't throw the baby out with the bath water."? Well, five years ago when I filed for divorce, I threw out many things, many thoughts, many beliefs. I didn't use much discernment in doing so. I threw... out this baby of a belief, but didn't know it until right now!! I had used this belief to help me keep going for what I wanted, when what I wanted was to save my marriage and keep my family intact. So, when it was time to move on and end the marriage....

    I judged my marriage as a failure, myself as one for not being able to save it, and those beliefs that kept me in the marriage as being bad.. and tossed them all away. Funny thing about a marriage is it takes more than one person to make it a pleasurable one.

    I discovered I had thrown away "many precious babies of beliefs". I couldn't put my finger on the beliefs I wanted back. This is one of them!! It's a gem....

  3. Bears, this article helped me a lot today. My boyfriend just left me 10 days ago. In one month we would be moving in together, but he left me for no good reason. He was jealous for something little tiny small, a total misunderstanding. I explained everything and I am 100% faithful. But he decided to leave me anyway, for he now claims he does not trust me anymore. We were planning a child. I have an autistic gorgeous little girl and took the Son-Rise Start-Up. He has a 18 yo beautiful daughter. I felt like a failure. He made me feel it was my fault. Your article reminded me that it is beautiful just the fact that I was trying to be in a loving relationship and to have a new family and be a mother again. I needed to give myself a break and stop feeling like a failure. You helped me do that, thanks!