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Everything I Know About Success I Learned From Failing

Microlight flight in Africa…did I mention I’m scared of heights?

I fail more than the average person.

There’s a part of my personality that insists on pushing myself out of comfort zones–that keeps reaching for the stars when I’d rather stay in bed.

I’m not sure what to call that aspect of myself, other than a glutton for punishment.

It’s responsible for…

Booking a microlight flight over Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, Africa, even though I’m scared of heights.

Convincing my coach to accept me into fight camp, even though he warned me that everyone else in the camp was more aggressive.

Competing in a muay thai fight when I was terrified I wasn’t ready.

Submitting my work to agents and publishers even though it means opening myself to rejection.

Buying a ticket to Hong Kong–a trip that will require me to face several fears all at once.

Falling in love after having my heart broken for the millionth time.

Opening myself up to new friendships after being burned again and again.

And on and on it goes.

Because I aim high, I open myself up to rejection, self-doubt, lack of faith, and every other nasty thing you can think of.

When I’m struggling with something–as I am now with submitting my work and my fears surrounding the China trip–it can feel awful. The most terrible thoughts will run through my head. I’ll think about giving up, or cancelling the trip. It’s so much easier not to try.

But then I remember…

The best moments of my life, and the accomplishments I’m most proud of, have come from pushing past my fears and doubts.

I was terrified most of the time in fight camp. I remember dreading Fridays, which were sparring days, because I never knew what to expect. I wasn’t afraid of getting hurt so much as making a fool of myself. I was sad that the other women in the camp didn’t seem to accept me.

Looking back, I did many things wrong. I wasn’t aggressive enough (as predicted). I didn’t focus on the right things in my one-on-one training with the world champion, and I didn’t take our work together seriously enough. I shied away from the fighters who scared me instead of seeking them out and using that fear to make me stronger. I waited over a year to watch my fight, only to discover it was a lot better than I’d thought. I stayed away from the dojo I loved for almost two years.

While I wouldn’t want to repeat any of those mistakes, do I regret being in fight camp and finally realizing my dream of stepping into the ring?

Not for a single second. Of all the things I’ve done in my life, that ranks with the top five that I am most proud of.

It’s the same with writing. Getting rejected sucks, but going through this same process is what got me an agent the first time around.

And that microlight trip? Best experience ever.

Life doesn’t happen while you’re in your comfort zone. To do or be something extraordinary, you have to push past it.

And the nasty scary horrible parts? They’re just the price for all the fantastic things that will happen when you put yourself out there.

When you reach for the stars, eventually you’ll get one. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow.

But you know what they say…you can’t win if you don’t play. So get in the game.

When was the last time you pushed past your comfort zone? What happened? Are you scared of failing?

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  1. Crystal

    Thank you for posting this Holli. I am scared to fail ALL the time, and it can feel very isolating. I sometimes wonder how ‘everyone’ manages to take so many steps forward while I all I want to do is stand still.

    Sometimes it takes kind words, and sometimes I have to rely on my own grit and determination. I have to remind myself that always feels good to know I at least TRIED something.

    I am so proud of you and the steps you are taking to push yourself out of your comfort zone! I can’t wait to hear all of the positive things that come from ‘getting in the game’.

    • Holli Moncrieff

      Hey Crystal,

      I’m so glad this resonated with you. I can definitely relate to your fears. While I was in Bali, there was something that scared me almost everyday, and I remember thinking, “Why do I keep doing this? Why can’t I have one day where I’m not afraid of dying?” It’s a terrible feeling to be that scared sometimes, but again, I never regretted the experiences.

      Thanks so much for the kind words. Please know that I am very proud of you too, and that I’m always here for you when you need some encouragement. Life can be scary, but at least we’re in it together.

  2. Javier

    Very good post. I think we tend to confuse “failure” with “not the desired result”. As you explain really well, you fought a good muay thai fight, that one wasn’t a failure at all it was one amazing experience.
    You wrote books. You are getting to know the world. You have an ambitious plan to move to an island paradise. Along the way there may be setbacks, but failure? No way!

  3. Holli Moncrieff

    Thanks so much, Javier. I needed that! And you’re right–maybe we’re too quick to say “fail.”

    • Holli Moncrieff

      Thanks for commenting, Debi. Learning, and perhaps a strength of character as well. I believe that trying new things, even if they’re scary, changes a person over time.


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