We’ve all heard it from the guru’s right? “Take big risks!” “Fail early. Fail often.” “When you fail, pick yourself up, dust yourself off and keep going.”
And for the most part, I agree with these sentiments. The only problem is, no one ever talks about how much failing SUCKS and what to do about it so you CAN pick yourself up and dust yourself off.
Here’s the thing: as entrepreneurs we pour our hearts and souls into what we do. Of course we are risk takers – how could we work for ourselves if we weren’t? So when we take a big risk – everything in us is on the line. Which works out great if the risk pays off.
But what about when it doesn’t pay off?
I recently lived through this experience and I am here to tell you it can be gut-wrenching and heartbreaking. I wanted something very very badly. I thought I had my bases covered. I put all my chips on the table – my smarts, my heart and my soul – and I hoped for the best.
But it didn’t work out. Not only did it not work out, it blew up spectacularly in my face. And it felt horrible.
Prevailing advice is that I should have been able to shake it off, get up and keep on trekking. And I’ve been able to do after many failures – trust me. But this time I just couldn’t. My heart was too heavy and my spirit was busted. But I also knew I had to choose between moving forward somehow and throwing in the towel.
Walking The Grid
I can’t remember where I first heard it, but when I find myself in situations where I really don’t know what to do next, where I feel like I am grappling in the dark, where my heart just isn’t in taking one more step, the phrase “just walk the grid” always comes to mind
I have a feeling that I’m not the only person out there who struggles to find a foothold after failing and I’m hoping this idea might offer some help.
The whole premise of walking the grid is based on two things: 1) some structured routine and 2) keeping things very very simple. Each person’s grid will look different, but here are some pieces of mine to give you some ideas:
- I walk – every single morning. Whether I feel like it or not. In fact, the less I feel like it, the more insistent I am about going. 30 minutes minimum – longer if I can.
- I check in with a trusted friend or colleague every day. Not the same friend or colleague every day because I want to keep as many of those as I can. Sometimes I talk about what’s going on with me; sometimes I can bring myself to actually inquire about them (when I’m walking the grid, I can be kinda self-centered).
- I reduce my commitments as best I can. Getting back to full speed takes time and energy and I want to give myself as much of that as I can.
- I write first thing every morning. Dumping out what’s bothering me onto paper helps keep it from eating away at me all day. (And a side benefit is I usually get a really great NEW idea while I’m writing – eventually.)
- I try to eat well and not survive on coffee alone.
- I give priority to working on the projects that make me feel really good, really smart and really talented. Same goes for people I talk to.
- I read books by authors who make me feel better. My favorites when I am walking the grid are Julia Cameron, Martha Beck and Anne Lamott.
- I nap a lot. (Ok – I nap a lot anytime I can. Walking the grid just gives me a really good reason.)
- I cry. Yes it’s true. If the experience is heart-wrenching enough, I’ll probably cry more than once. And don’t say it’s just because I’m a girl.
- I take small actions. As soon as I can I take small baby steps toward something that feels like it might be right. Baby steps feel simple and doable. As they accumulate, though, I find myself creating forward momentum once again.
Sometimes I can zip through walking the grid in a couple of days and I’m good to go. Other times, it may take me weeks or even a few months of walking the grid to feel like I am on solid ground.
Failing isn’t permanent and the fact that I failed to get something I really wanted doesn’t mean that I am a failure. But taking the time to acknowledge that the experience was painful is a gift of respect I can give myself.
What are some simple, structured ideas you would add to The Grid?