Here I am, sitting in a McDonald’s, watching the time pass before I pick up The Unlikely Mage from awesomeness practice. It’s been an especially different sort of day, being that TUM was off today for the festival that starts tomorrow. We got a TON of stuff done today, including packing the car, getting groceries, and traveling across the universe and back. He even helped me out with my chain mail stuff (Link goes to Ebay)! I loves my mage. But, that’s not the point of today’s conversation.

No, I was thinking about the bad rap that the word ‘failure’ receives. If you do not rise up to someone’s expectations, you are considered a failure. If you do not win something, you are considered a failure. If you do not get the prize, you are considered a failure. As a result, there’s a whole hell of a lot of people who are neurotic about being a failure. There’s entire blogs devoted to both failure and success (I even have to admit that there’s some failure quotes in my Motivational Quotes blog. And there’s a bunch of folks who are so neurotic about their fear of failure that they don’t get off of their asses and DO something with their lives.

Words… they get a lot of juice over time. They gain semantic meanings, they change meanings, they culturally evolve just like we do.

Here’s an experiment. Change the words

Yeah, I’m serious. Don’t use the word failure. Don’t think about failure. Don’t take those emotionally charged words and get yourself wrapped up in them. No, what I want you do to is take those hard words and substitute them with easy ones. Yeah, I know that you don’t talk about the fear of failure with your friends… you probably convince yourself that something’s too hard or too silly before it even has a chance to get out of the box.

Instead of failure… use broccoli

So, you’ve got this kick ass idea that you’re going to travel the world on the cruise lines being an entertainer. You’ve got your passport, and you’ve got this great act which involves juggling stingrays on one foot in your underwear. Your friends might be telling you that it’s a silly idea and that maybe you should rethink the whole thing… and secretly, you’ve got your doubts so you’re prone to give in to those friends. You don’t pursue the idea because you’re afraid of failure. What if you were afraid of broccoli? It’s not failure, it’s broccoli.

A rose… is a rose… is a couch?

So, you’re afraid of broccoli. That doesn’t sound too terribly heinous. You’re afraid of lounge chairs. You’re afraid of .. something completely and totally irrelevant. And truth be told, you might start to think that being afraid of broccoli or lounge chairs or couches is insane and silly. Maybe you should get off your ass and start talking to the cruise lines about your underwear wearing stingray juggling plan. All they can do is give you broccoli or lounge chairs, right?

Changing the words change the context

Seriously. If you mess with the words that you’re using, you’re messing with the context of the argument. You’re picking at the very foundation of it, and realize that things can’t be totally and completely heinous. You might realize that playing through the pain is the ultimate in artistic expression. And you should go for it, because it’s not failure. It’s not anything more than couches or broccoli. Change the words.. embrace the words. Eat the broccoli.

When you are truly committed to a ‘hey, it would be cool if…’ idea, don’t let your fear of failure stop you. It’s only broccoli, and you are the master of it.