I failed…….and couldn’t be happier

This is what failure looks like….started my post after the biggest challenge I’d ever faced (click here to read the post).

It’s not a popular conversation, is it? It makes people slightly uncomfortable when you announce that you’ve failed, they don’t quite know what to do or say to make it better, they are so used to celebrating success that failure is unexpected.

But I am very happy to say (repeatedly) that I FAILED

Last November I signed up to do L’Etape, a stage of the tour de France that is different every year. This one was the Briancon to Alpe D’Huez route that encompassed three major climbs with a total distance of 167 km and over 4,700 metres of climbing. Little did I know then what I was letting myself in for.

I got though two very tough climbs before I reached Alpe Dhuez and as I got to the bottom of this epic climb with 22 hairpin bends a part of me said “go on Ellen, sure you can start, you can do this” but to what end? I knew that if I did I would be crippled for the remainder of my holiday, throw my bike in a ditch and swear off cycling for life.

Another part of me hesitantly whispered “what if I just stop now” i dismised it straight away, it was the “weak” part of me. I was stronger than this and I could get up this hill. I could suffer through.

But why? Really? Did I need to suffer? And then I knew my answer, it was time to call it a day.

As I was walking back to our accommodation I started to feel sorry for myself, I had trained so hard for this one day and it hadn’t gone to plan. Over the past 8 months I had fallen asleep at dinner, never stayed up past 10pm, regularly cleared the fridge of food (much to the shock of the hubbie) and was hangry when I wasn’t eating.
I had poured blood, sweat and tears into this and I had failed.

On that walk home, I knew I had a choice – to feel sorry for myself or to own it.

So I owned it and I posted on social media (click here to read that post). I don’t know why but I did, I felt compelled to. I typed that post in about 1 minute, not thinking anything of it but allowing the words to pour from my heart and even now reading back over it I don’t really remember writing it.

Then something incredible happened.

I’ve never had a response like it. So many likes, comments, emails, texts and conversations came of it. It’s been incredibly moving.

I have lots of favourite posts, conversations and insights over the past week, this one I thought was brilliant and it’s from Augusta she said “You won when you listened to your body”

It sparked conversations about the perception that we must keep pushing ourselves for more; achieve more, do more, attain more, earn more, pushing ourselves to the extreme – but why? Do we need to? Is that what life is about? For some people yes, but for lots I talk to – NO WAY

Can we stop when we find our own finish line. Can that be enough? To attain what is comfortable but still challenging, but not push ourselves to exhaustion, to breaking point?

Social media is full of achievements and yes they are to be celebrated but if that’s all that’s posted then we are creating expectations that life is one “success” after another and that’s an illusion.

Life is messy and wonderful and hard and easy, it’s everything combined and sometimes it’s just not your time. Last week it wasn’t my day, and this failure has affected me more than I ever could imagine in a wonderful way. I will share some of these insights in later posts, but for now what I’d love to do is to get the conversations going, lets talk about failure…..

What I’d like to ask you is:

  • Have you ever failed? If so what did you fail at an what did you learn from it?

Please hit reply I’d love to hear from you, lets OWN Failure, for me it has taught me more than success ever could.

As Samuel Beckett said (thanks Yvonne for sending this on)

Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.

Yours in failure & revelling in it,