on failing, again

I’m still thinking about failing – some gems I found today on Seth Godin’s website:

fail often. dream big and fail often.

you can’t have a lot of good ideas without generating a lot of bad ones

I was thinking about failure in another context this morning. I’ve just started running. Those who know me understand how extraordinary this is. I’ve never been able to run. Not being able to run was as much a part of my identity as my curly hair, or my relentless overuse of the word ‘relentless’. It wasn’t that i needed to try harder, it was that my body wasn’t built for running. I’d start, and 30 seconds later I’d need to stop. But then i found a way for that 30 seconds to become 30 minutes… And inexplicably, unbelievably, what was once true [because ‘i can’t run’ really was true] no longer is… which is disconcerting, bemusing, and completely lovely.

I was thinking when i was out this morning how, at school, running slowly was never an option. You ran to win. It was the people who were fast at running who did running – the rest of us did high jump or javelin or whatever – even if we were just as bad at that as we were at running. It’s been such a revelation to change the playing field, to realise that even though i’m not that fast, I’m actually pretty good at running. I’ve got good form, and i seem to adjust quickly to longer and longer distances.

I hate moralistic stories about trying harder. That’s not what this is. It’s about letting what was true no longer be true… and about how much something small like that changes everything about how we understand ourselves.


  1. I like Einstein’s views on failing:

    “I think and think for months and years. Ninety-nine times the conclusion is false. The hundredth time I am right”

  2. Hi … found you recently via another blog or twitter.

    Love this post, and the last sentence is very wise – “It’s about letting what was true no longer be true… and about how much something small like that changes everything about how we understand ourselves.”

    Happy running … there’s something about running that makes me feel fully alive, hope you experience it also.

  3. ben

    One of my fave people has just written an ebook for “knowledge workers” (ie. all of us who sit down to do our jobs). He basically reminds us that we evolved the ability to walk on two legs so we could interact with the world with our spare limbs (which became arms).

    For 50 000 years, we spent most of the day walking around (gathering food, looking for shelter etc.). In the last 50 years, we have changed and spend most of the day sitting. Sitting is debilitating, and changes our body.

    People can reclaim their bodies and enjoy being in them – it feels good when we use our bodies the way they were designed/evolved! Thanks for reminding me of that Cheryl! Enjoy the runnin!

    (His book is here … not sure if there is a blogging etiqutte thing about links? http://knowledgeworkerssurvivalguide.com/ )

  4. Jen

    I had a similar revelation a few years ago about swimming. I feel so happy that you’ve discovered the joy of running.

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