A young woman asked me this question one night in New Jersey.
I’d just given a workshop on risk taking. And knee-deep into the Q&A, she raised her hand.
“I guess I want to know…” she held the words inside her mouth for a moment, then let them come running out, “how do you fail well?”
The crowd stilled and silenced. “Great question,” I said. I walked towards the young woman, searching for the most honest answer I could give her.
I could tell her how to fail badly. Beat yourself up for being reckless, naive, unready. Surround yourself with people who say, “Told you so.” Believe them. Beat yourself up some more.
And I could tell her that from first-hand experience. Which I would love her to steer clear of.
I looked at the young woman.
“I think how we fail well,” I said to her, myself, anyone who would listen, “is by being kind to ourselves.”
Love the guts it took to take the leap and love the bones that broke when we crashed into the earth. And that love is what will get us back on our feet, able to learn from the fall, ready to leap again in another direction.
The young woman nodded. I smiled at her. And made a silent wish for her, me, anyone who needs it:
May ours be lives of leaps. When we land them, may we be kind to ourselves. And when we crash into the earth, may we be even kinder.