Posted by: draknor | January 31, 2012

Failure

Failure… such a dramatic word.  Sounds a lot like “final”, doesn’t it?  Except… it means almost the opposite.  Failure is a place to begin, not end.

But it sure doesn’t feel that way.

I’ve got failure on a couple of different levels right now. The first is my martial arts class — I started it last week, and haven’t had anyone come in yet.  I’ve been emailing with a couple of people who expressed interest, but for various reasons haven’t made it in, and probably won’t.

It’s disappointing, but not really surprising.  Despite all of the research & reading I’ve been doing on marketing and promotion — I did everything a basic rookie would do.  I posted some flyers around local bulletin boards, posted about it on Facebook, talked to a few friends.  Basically, I just went fishing in the hopes I’d catch something.  So my “promotional performance”, while disappointing, is not at all surprising.  I’d guess in this community there are at least 100 people that would love this class.  My crude methods were utterly ineffective at reaching them.

It wasn’t a total waste, though — despite having no one in class, I still taught the material for that night.  This was great for a few reasons. First, I made myself plot out the class content so I’d know what to focus on each night.  And by actually teaching it (even to an empty room), I got valuable experience in how it works — how much time different exercises really take, how much explaining vs demonstrating to do, key points to focus on, etc.  So it was still really valuable for me to go through this exercise!

But given the lack of interest, I have a decision to make — either focus on marketing & promotion and figure out how to find those people that would love it and craft a class schedule to fit them.  Or bench this idea for now and focus on other things.  And honestly, I’m leaning in the latter direction.   While I love training and it’s been immensely valuable for me — I don’t have the confidence this is something I can make enough income doing.  At least not with my current level of marketing-fu.  So instead, I’m going to focus on photography, writing, and online stuff for now.  Simplify.  (Which I’m terrible at…)

The other major experience with failure is in my relationship.  Not like the relationship is over or anything THAT dramatic, but I’ve been behaving in this pattern where I do what I want, without really considering how my girlfriend feels about it.  Most of the time, it’s not a big deal or she’s not impacted.  But sometimes there are decisions I make that can affect her greatly — and when I don’t consider how she’ll react… well, that’s not a great relationship-building behavior.  Or worse, when we have a plan and I make last minute changes to it without consulting her.  It’s just not respectful.  And it’s especially painful to her, because she tries very hard to consider other people’s reactions & feelings.  So when I don’t reciprocate, it’s extra painful.

Case in point, we had a bit of a fight last week and I was feeling pretty moody, so I chose to sleep on the couch rather than in the bed.  (Hey, crazy as it sounds sometimes I actually prefer the couch!)  But instead of going to bed with her (best option), or talking to her about my desire to sleep on the couch (good option), I told her I’d come to bed “later”, and then slept on the couch instead.  Not a good option — because then she feels abandoned, that I’m being selfish & not considering her feelings.  Maybe the first time this happened it could be excused — but this wasn’t the first time.

So why do I do it?  Why do I do these things, make these decisions and take these actions that I know (or should know, if I’d stop to think) are going to cause pain & suffering?  I don’t have a good answer, honestly — the best I can say is that I don’t have good coping skills.  When I disappoint someone I care about & respect — that hurts me. I feel like I’ve failed her — and I have. Doesn’t mean its irreparable or the end of the world, but it’s still a very heavy feeling.  It’s a reminder that I’m still human, not quite perfect.

Failure is inevitable. Show me a man who has never failed and I’ll show you a man who has never tried.  But what I’m slowly learning is that while failure is just a step along the journey, it’s not the same as every other step.  It takes time to recognize it, accept it, and learn from it.  I need good coping mechanisms to deal with that initial emotional wave that hits before my rational, thinking brain can analyze & dissect the situation to learn from it.  I still haven’t figured out what works for me.

I did figure out what does NOT work, though… we were fighting last night about another situation where we had made an arrangement, and I made changes without consulting her.  Pretty serious topic, this time — I make no bones about it, I messed up – big time.  So we’re sitting on the couch, and she’s mad at me.  I can’t take it anymore and go up to make myself a drink.  Now, I know alcohol is definitely NOT going to help the situation, but the truth is I didn’t know what else to do — I was passed the point of being able to keep my shit together.  She calls me out on it, “Really?! You think drinking is going to help right now?”  And of course I know its not. So I freeze for a few moments, ice cube tray in hand… And I’m pissed at her, but really just at myself because she’s right, and I know she’s right, but I feel stuck.  So I slammed down the ice cube tray on the kitchen floor & stormed out of the room.

Great coping skills, huh?  I will say thought, the ice cube tray crashing to the kitchen floor made a very viscerally-pleasing sound.  But that was the only good thing about that entire situation.

(Thankfully, she calmed down awhile later and came to console me; a strange twist considering I was the one who wronged her, but… what can I say? Emotions are complicated things.)

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