Today, I ate some serious dirt.
It is springtime in Texas, and today was a great day for a run with my wild, wonderful, terrible pup. It was cloudy, breezy, and it felt amazing outside. It had been a while since I had a good, long run, so I strapped on her harness, double tied my running shoes and we set out for our 3.5 mile loop. About halfway in, just as I was hitting my stride, we had just crossed a busy street into a neighborhood, and Bella (the terrible pup) locked in on some birds up ahead. She dug in her heels and flew towards them- dragging me behind her. Things escalated quickly as I wasn’t watching my feet and trying to regain control of my wild huntress dog…. while running to keep up with her, I caught the lip of a broken part of the sidewalk that sent me flying into the air and headed towards the concrete.
It was like I was in slow motion- I took at least 5 giant steps trying to regain control, but I was at such a speed and such a trajectory, that I fell HARD. I mean- it looked like I was trying to dive for home base. I belly slid half on the sidewalk and half in the grass- spraying leaves up around my face, like I was a kid on a slip and slide. It’s been a while since I’ve had a scraped up elbow and rocks in my hand- but this lady went down hard, and the pain was all too familiar. Stunned at what had just happened, I slowly got up, checked out out my wounds, tried to dust myself off, and finally gave Bella a “Seriously dog- are you trying to kill me?”. She just wiggled and wagged her happy tail.
As we started back down the sidewalk, I immediately thought a few things that sort of surprised me. The first was, “Well I don’t get hurt like this when I sit on the couch. Hah! At least these were wounds of effort!” The second was, “At least I fell while RUNNING- not walking!!!” That was a good feeling. Although I have tripped many a time just while walking, it felt somewhat satisfying to know that I at least fell while running. I felt it made me a little tougher - even though I had just eaten serious dirt, and had been a sidewalk freak show by one of the busiest streets in my neighborhood.
I caught my breath, had a little laugh, and started jogging again. As I looked at my bloody hand, I couldn’t help but think of one of my all time favorite quotes from Teddy Roosevelt.
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. - Theodore Roosevelt
There are a million things that we are all scared to do, many times because we are terrified of failing and being humiliated by that failure. We can hear the voices of those around us that will say “What were you thinking?” or “Just who do you think you are?” Gosh- if those are the voices of our friends in our heads- we need NEW friends. Those kind of people are not real friends- they do not love you well and urge you to try, live, or to DARE GREATLY. But often, this is who we choose to listen to: the critic who sits on the couch, NOT seeking out fellow arena fighters who have blood on their clothes, dirt on their faces, and who can offer some actual encouragement WITH the authority to give any advice. If you find yourself afraid to step out because of what others will say- it might be time to reevaluate your inner circle of friends. If you want to be brave and take risks- surround yourself with brave people. Courage is contagious, just like fear is!
In business, there is a lot of talk of “failing forward fast”. For most of us, the idea of failure is associated with great shame, embarrassment, and is something we have been taught to avoid like the Black Plague. But the real TRUTH is that failure is NECESSARY for success. You cannot have one without the other! Failure creates real life experiences- experiences that offer lessons, lessons that provide true understanding and knowledge, Knowledge is POWER.!!!!You cannot have growth, success, and even power if you will not risk failure to LEARN. If you want to learn and succeed faster, then you must up your tolerance for failure and GET OUT THERE! I can remember a day when this concept really hit me and I looked at my best friend and said “Okay- so if we really want to do this… If we really want to do these things in a big way, then we should be getting our behinds kicked every day, right? KICKED. And we should celebrate getting our behinds kicked- because that means we are DOING, We are LIVING, and we are that much closer to really succeeding in these big dreams!!!”
I lived a great deal of my life not daring greatly, but trying to “stay clean”- thinking that was what God wanted from me this side of heaven. That the goal was to live this life as pure, and as “cleanly” as possible- to get to heaven with the least blemishes, the least amount of sin possible. I remember saying that to my mentor and one of my dearest friends, Lida Smith, a few years ago. Lida smiled at me, laughed under her breath, and said “That’s funny. I always thought the goal of this life was to experience the most Grace.”
Being an independent artist, just like being an entrepreneur, is not for the faint of heart. Fighting to have a voice amongst major labels, billions of dollars of marketing support, and an entire industry of people dedicated to make one artist a”success” can honestly send this fearful heart into panic and hiding many days. But what I know is that to live a life on the couch makes me cranky, miserable, and a terrible wife and person. I was made for the battle, I am made better by the battle, and I cannot achieve my dreams without the battle. I will get in that arena and fight with all that I am, and I will cling to the promise that “Greater Is HE That is IN me, than he that is in the world! “
Great lives of faith, creativity, love, and inspiration are not lived from sitting on a couch, or hiding behind a computer screen. They are forged in the arena- with sweat on our brows, and fire in our hearts! Let us fail hard and let us fail fast my dear friends- that we might learn and live and dare greatly…. There is only one way to greatness, and there are NO short cuts!
“It is a scary thing to chase your dream, and many will throw dirt at you from their ruts, but let it never deter nor sway you. Steady on.”