It’s time to develop my failure callus

by Rebecca A. Watson on November 12, 2011

in change, the artist's way

Last weekend I took my nephews rollerskating for the first time. They are about 3 and 5, so it seemed like a good time to learn. Plus it was a good opportunity to just be a kid, one of the things I try to do as part of my work with the Artist’s Way.

I wear rollerskates and listen to remixes.

(Jolene Van Laar/Flickr)

First I have to say my nephew Zeke definitely comes from a biking family. He took one look at the roller rink and said, “There aren’t even any berms on it.”

But after one time around, he was pretty happy there wasn’t. He and his brother crawled slowly along the wall, falling every few feet, with me and their mom, Kelly, to pick them up.

Kelly said, “Look at everyone falling. That’s how you learn.”

All I could think was How do they keep getting up and trying? I would have probably given up by now. Seriously, it was exhausting to watch them.

It made me realize that I’ve gotten pretty lazy when it comes to learning something new. When I was younger I picked up all sorts of things: ice skating, diving, piano, trumpet, calculus.

Now I’m ready to give up my knitting after the fourth time of messing up a pattern. Four times? If I would’ve done that with writing, I wouldn’t have a journalism degree, a blog or a business. I’m guessing that if Einstein only tried four times, one of my favorite physics theories would not exist.

So what happened? Why am I suddenly so lazy? I think it’s because I’ve been doing things I’m good at for too long. I’ve forgotten what falling down feels like.

It’s like when you stop playing guitar for a long time and your calluses go away: it hurts to play for too long until you develop those calluses again.

I need to develop my failure callus again. Falling down (failure) is necessary and inevitable. But it’s only temporary unless you decide to just stay there. And then inevitably someone will roll over your finger, adding insult to injury.

So I’ve started my knitting for the fifth time. And I’m about to try selling my services to another business after the last one said no. It gets easier, I’ve heard. I believe it.

Actually I should say I knowΒ it. I said those exact words to my nephew as I spun around on my skates.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Nicole November 12, 2011 at 10:31 am

Falling is growing! I’m so happy to hear that you’re out with the little ones and living life from their perspective. Good for you! You are so right though, giving up after a few failures… how lazy! πŸ™‚ Great post.


Ms. Becca November 12, 2011 at 6:39 pm

Thanks girlie! i know…just like we’ve said before: The way to success is the three P’s. Patience, practice and persistence!!


Making it up as I go... November 14, 2011 at 8:31 am

You’ve no idea how helpful this was. I was about to quit something because I wasn’t very good at it and just work on something that I’m good at. I was having a horrible time deciding whether to stay or go and you’ve convinced me to stay with it.


Ms. Becca November 14, 2011 at 5:20 pm

Yay! I’m thankful I could help πŸ™‚ Keep going with it and sooner or later, it’ll be one of the things you’re good at πŸ˜‰


eileen July 7, 2013 at 8:30 pm

success = fall down 7 times,
… get up 8 times.

or, in calculus, fall down n, get up n+1

i loved calculus.
just learned to crochet this past year.
i always thought it was too girly girl, growing up.
but i like the idea of making my own hat and matching scarf.

crochet is easier than knitting, but it’s all good.

great post. t’anks.


Ms. Becca July 16, 2013 at 1:01 pm

So glad you liked the post Eileen! Crochet is easy and calculus is fun…sounds like we’ve got a lot in common πŸ˜‰


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