On Saturday I was invited to a birthday party for a 60 year old and a 21 year old – a tall order satisfying very different expectations.  But they did it by having a circus theme.  It was such fun!  We all got an opportunity to learn a new skill and brush up on some old ones.  I loved showing off my playground hoola hooping prowess as well as learning how to spin plates. I know I do it metaphorically every day but to actually learn the skill of literally doing it, and being able to throw and catch plates too made me feel quite proud. I did however give the unicycle a wide berth, I know my limitations.  Some people were brave enough to try the fire eating and stilt walking too and a fun night was had by all.

On the way home I started thinking about how the room of people reacted when we were told we would be learning new skills. Some were excited and almost jumped for joy when they saw the colourful array of equipment on offer, others were visibly nervous and shrank back into the shadows obviously trying to find a way out of such frivolity.

We are hardwired as children to want to learn and discover the world around us, but as we grow we learn from others that failure to grasp a new skill causes embarrassment, ridicule and even shame and that possibility can prevent us from trying something new.

It doesn’t have to be like that.

Just because we have experienced in the school playground someone jeering because we couldn’t do the high jump,  perform mental arithmetic, or remember a spelling doesn’t mean we are stupid or unworthy. However that feeling of embarrassment can stay with us and follow us into our adult lives.

How damaging can that be for the growth of our mental, physical and intellectual development if that is stopping us from trying something new?

The saddest part is the person who ridiculed us was probably doing it from a place of insecurity and so was jeering simply to make themselves feel better.

Failure is a powerful word and implies the end, a place where there is no hope, no turning around.  However if you view failure as a journey on the road to success, something that is inevitable that we all have, small and large and something to be learnt from then it is only a stepping stone on the way to success.

Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.

Winston Churchill

We all have failures along life’s way, but the only embarrassment should be if you don’tget up and start again and again and again.  I didn’t succeed to spin plates on my first attempt, in fact I picked up that plate from the floor more times than I cared to remember, but with the help of someone else in my group we worked out how to do it. We were both proud of our achievement, and realised that by working together as a team and by not giving up we were able to add a new skill to our repertoire. (not sure how useful that particular skill will be but go with me on this one)  How many new things do you have to learn for your business every single day? It is tough isn’t it. By having the right attitude to pick yourself up and start again and again, as well as getting in people who are skilled to help you, will result in an easier life in the long run.

Don’t be afraid to fail, just make sure you always participate because life is there to be lived.

A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.

George Bernard Shaw