a new (to me) perspective on failure

Back in March of this year I started lifting weights – big girl weights, like in the picture (and I look exactly as awesome as that chick while lifting them, really I do!) We actually got the weight setup for the kids, but in the process I had to do a bunch of research on what to get and wound up deciding to start lifting myself for the first time ever.

So I’ve had a lot of ups and downs, and fits and starts with progressing but it is exciting every time I can lift more than I could the time before. The other day I got to the point where I was supposed to do squats with 135 lbs – this means the bar which weighs 45 pounds, plus a plate on each side of 45 lbs each. This is a milestone because you are using the full plates instead of the smaller incremental weights. Well, I psyched myself out and totally failed, and was complaining a bit about it on a Facebook group of ladies who lift weights. The response I got from another lady on the group was:

“and the best part is…that even with an attempt that didn’t go as planned, you are letting your body know that it is going to have to adapt to what you want it to do! that’s one of the reasons why i love weight lifting! use failure to succeed!”

I told her that I loved that perspective on failure and was going to adopt it. Sure enough, 2 days later when it was time to try again I did the 3 sets of 5 no problem. It is amazing that trying to do something and failing completely made my body work in the background prepping to be able to do it the next time.

I think that same principle applies to our minds as well. Have you ever played one of those video games where you are trying to beat a level and it’s the same every time, so you get stuck on a really hard part and have to keep doing it over and over until you can get past it? Those are the kind of games I enjoy, but sometimes a certain section will be so hard that I just get sick of doing it and quit in disgust. It almost never fails that when I go back to the game later or the next day all of a sudden I can beat it no problem. Is my brain sneakily working on the problem in the background or building the muscle memory I need in order to beat it?

Same thing happens with tricky problems at work. Many times I have been trying to figure out the best way to present something, or to fix a problem that just doesn’t make sense. Going away from the problem for a while or even sleeping on it often brings the solution without having to put any more thought into it, as if once again my brain keeps working on the problem without me even being aware of it.

So I think I am going to claim that same principle for the other areas of my life too. I’ve been recently inspired/reminded to take a daily personal moral/spiritual inventory. Nothing like actually having to acknowledge your moral failings and character flaws every single day! (By the way, I found a really cool app for this, called Grid Diary – check your local app store).

I’m thinking that becoming aware of these failings and flaws will give my spirit the chance to work on them in the background, just like my body does and my brain does. If I’m willing to admit to failure and have the desire to be rid of my character flaws, then between God and my spirit it will get worked out in the background. If I ignore them and just blindly move through each day without any self-reflection it will be really hard for any change or growth to happen. This is now my inspiration to continue with the daily inventory – not because of Ignatius or Bill W. but because it truly makes sense to me.

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