If you knew you could not fail…
…how would you be?
…what would you do?
The inspiration for these questions came to me from a most unexpected source in a very revealing lesson.
A fellow mum at my daughter’s school, had been trying to arrange a movie afternoon for her daughter and G to watch the (then) yet to be released new Disney’s film Frozen.
Unfortunately the first day that the movie was in the cinemas was the day before G’s Tap (dancing) exam, so I told both G and her friend’s mum that it probably would be best for her to watch it after the Tap exam.
And so that was that.
It was a simple unconditional appointment, in my view, to be able to whole-heartedly enjoy an entertaining new film without the pressure of a looming exam about.
However, I was stopped a couple of days later after drop-off at school, by the same mum who was clearly quite concerned and taken aback.
It turned out that G had informed her daughter that she would join her for the movie, after, she had passed her exams.
This was quite a revelation to me, as we had never ever placed any conditions on her passing or achieving anything in order to be rewarded. Partly because it was always assumed (and a given) that she would do well anyway, but also because it is our perspective that there are things in life more important than passing exams. Hence, the passing of the exam itself is the reward – although we may go out to celebrate it after.
Anyway, back to the revelation.
I pondered this for a while, and to be perfectly honest, I was rather concerned as to whether she was stressed about the exams to have had to actually say this – although she certainly did not seem to be concerned or stressed at all.
And then, my husband pointed out to me the fact that she does not actually know that she could fail the exam, hence her saying that she would have to pass the exam, was actually equivalent to most other people saying that they would have to take an exam.
It was a big big revelation and it turns out he was right!
That evening, we asked G herself, why she had said that she would only go to the cinema after she had passed the exam and her very quick, honest reply was…
‘Of course. I have exams to take, so after I pass them I will go to the cinema.’
‘So you’re not worried about failing?’
‘No, of course not. I’ve done exams before – they’re easy!’
And so…my great lesson yesterday again, was that it was all perception.
February 6, 2014 @ 8:17 pm
It sounds like G has such a healthy and empowering attitude and confidence! This is wonderful.
As the attitude from the NLP field says, ‘there is no failure, only feedback’. I like to remind myself of this whenever I worry about ‘failing’ at a particular activity.
February 7, 2014 @ 4:53 pm
I love that ‘no failure, only feedback’. We so often limit ourselves by the perception that to fail will be an awful terrible mistake, so much so that we dare not even try.
I too am learning that the greatest value is not in the outcome but in the journey. Thank you for stopping by Hiten, much appreciated.
February 9, 2014 @ 1:50 am
Hi Li-ling – thank you for sharing this story of the fearless and confident G 🙂 “Exams are easy” haha yes!!
I think if most people took this attitude towards fear and failure, they would follow their dreams and live the life that is capable to them. Many times we talk ourselves out of what is possible for us. The best case scenario is we get what we want. The worst case scenario, as Hiten pointed out, is we learn and grow – or get feedback!
February 10, 2014 @ 1:02 pm
What you say is very true – we talk ourselves out of what is possible, I wonder why? 😉
February 11, 2014 @ 11:50 pm
Totally agree Vishnu 🙂
Li-ling, your article reminded me of Ken Robinson’s great TED talk, where he talks about how kids are the most brilliant and creative people in the world until we teach them not to be. Lovely story 🙂
February 13, 2014 @ 12:17 pm
Absolutely Chris. I am finding that it is often our own fears that get in the way of ‘allowing’ our children to be the amazing wonderful people that they actually inherently know that they can be.
February 13, 2014 @ 2:31 pm
Chris, we so often hand over our fears and limitations from our own experience of the world around us, to our children, and yet if we learn to trust and encourage them we will find that they really are so aware and so knowing of what it is they are here to achieve.
February 11, 2014 @ 5:33 pm
What an interesting story, Li-ling. Just goes to show how we often wrongly attribute thoughts and feelings to other people, based on our own personal assumptions.
It’s lovely that the girl in the story had such a positive attitude to her exams – I spent my childhood terrified of failing things, I think due to the way I internalised my father’s expectations of me (I was the “clever” one of the family, always expected to do well, and it was a huge burden). It’s only in late adulthood that I’ve had more courage to have a go at things at which I might fail.
I love Hiten’s NLP quote about there being no failure, only feedback – I must remember that one 🙂
February 13, 2014 @ 2:33 pm
Oh Sue, both a burden and a gift. I know that many of us share similar experiences and yet we have learnt and overcome much. Learning to live life easy and happy is one great step forward – as I know you’re embarking on that journey to greater joy.