Since my talk on Becoming Failworthy has gone live on the internet for the world to see, I’ve never felt more naked. This was one of my life’s greatest dreams and seeing it out there felt very humbling.
I realized while preparing this talk how instructive and important Failure has been in my life. I had a lot of time to reflect on failure and my reaction to it and I realized that hidden inside every failure was a promise of something greater. Including my weight loss. Here’s that story:
How did Becoming Failworthy Help Me Lose Weight?
The most important day in my weight loss journey was Day 1. Not because I started and not because I would go on to lose 200 points in one year (plus another 45 in all). It’s because I failed on Day 1.
I’d been good all day. I skipped breakfast, Subway for lunch and went out to dinner but still ordered the salad and had a great night playing cards with friends. I was on cloud nine.
Until I passed a Mexican Drive-thru on the way home and ordered a 2 pound burrito, three tacos and an order of fries so big they put it in a large drink cup (not kidding). I inhaled them. Supreme bingefest. It was appalling.
Dieting is a ridiculous practice that people of all shapes and sizes go back to over and over. We all know the condescending mantra that people try to tell obese people about the need for a “change of lifestyle” over a diet. There is nothing more frustrating to an obese person than hearing someone telling you to “change your lifestyle” as if it was breathing. Have you ever stopped to really think about how monumentally arduous “changing your lifestyle” is? Consider your #1 practice that defines your life. It might be something as big as:
1. Loving your family.
2. Believing in a supreme power.
3. Being a kind person.
And then some person, who doesn’t accept these practices comes along and extols the virtues of stopping them, suggesting that it’s “just a matter of changing your lifestyle”. It’s only your lifestyle. Just change that little tiny thing of how you live every single day of your life. NBD. That’s all.
In my story, I’d returned to my lifestyle: inhaled the burrito, shot up the tacos and snorted the french fries (confession: my most shameful addiction is to bad metaphors).
Have you ever failed before you’d even started?
We’ve all been there. Cheat meal becomes cheat day and before you know it, 6 months have passed since you remember that whole diet errr change of lifestyle you’d started. But this time I woke up in the morning and decided that this was important enough to me that I should try it again. I forgave myself for failing.
And in the last year, I’ve realized that that is the x factor. That was the coup de grace, the secret sauce, the most valuable weapon. I was ready to make mistakes and forgive myself. I was ready to live worthy of failure.
Some things are worth saving.
Special Things Know No Failure
I remember one time, I had this Oakland A’s Starter Jacket as a kid that was my prized possession. Growing up in Southern California, we didn’t get a ton of chances to wear jackets, but I made the excuse at every opportunity to wear this thing. It went through absolute hell. I used to clean it between washes by hand to stretch out usage. One time, the lining got shredded on the inside while playing but I didn’t care. It ended up in the dryer with a pen and ink splotches in random place all over it, but I kept on wearing it. I loved it that much.
When you love something (or someone) that much and they are that valuable to you, you will hold on even after others would have given up. When the item or relationship gets damaged, you try and fix it and if it’s damaged beyond repair, you learn to love it in its new state.
So when I was dying from Mexican Fast Food induced shame, I had a choice to make: throw out the stained diet, or suck it up and wear it with the stains on it. I kept the faith, I dug back in and I realized I had learned something and I was even more prepared today after I’d failed that badly.
That’s what happens when you realize that you can’t grow to your full height just living worthy of success. Success is easy to process. It’s fun (that’s when the pounds are coming off) but it’s nothing life or lifestyle changing. People don’t change anything when they’re successful. They don’t look around and they don’t slow down and they end up crashing straight into walls.
In dieting, relationships, and all of life, it’s our failures that define your commitment and give you an opportunity to prove your worthiness of your dream. Whether you will ever admit it or not, there is a very good chance that if you trace back the lineage of the greatest thing that ever happened to you, you can trace back everything to a huge failure.
In other words, you’ll find that like me, Failure was the best thing that ever happened to you.
I’m not suggesting that we start to avoid Success like we have avoided Failure for so long. In reality, neither Success nor Failure are bad in and of themselves. What is so hard about success and so great about Failure is that it’s harder to admit you can do better when you’re winning. When you’re failing on the other hand, you have legitimate proof that there’s something more within you: someone is or has already done it.
I think often on Paul’s advice to the Corinthians in the Bible. Greeks are notorious pleasure seekers. They were kind of the Las Vegas of Ancient Times, only the Men also wore revealing clothing. While they were struggling with temptation, Paul explained to them:
“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to man… when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”
In other words, Paul’s helping them understand that the crap they’re going through is not some unique thing that’s never happened to anyone else. People have been through it and gotten through it and so can you. This is a message for the humble. As crazy and un-motivational as this next sentence sounds, this is one of the most liberating beliefs you can ever develop:
your circumstances aren’t special
The second you realize this is the second that you can properly assess what is really happening to you. For years, I was 100% convinced of my slow metabolism and big frame. I eat a TON of food today and I’m healthy and lean. I don’t have huge bones. I’m a normal guy. Some might even label me “skinny” now. #BodyAcceptance
Success makes us feel special. It tells us that we’re some unique snow flake and we’re better than everyone else. Failure is only permanent when we accept the same principle: our circumstances are special and somehow we can’t pull ourselves out of this hole. The “My problems are special” mindset leads to chronic depression, loneliness and hopelessness. It’s the reason we stop trying (what’s the use!?) and the reason people take their lives.
Today, I want you to give permission to find value in failure. Lean into it and welcome its presence. Hear it’s call, spurring you forward to do and to become. The most important thing you can see yourself as is not strong, talented or capable, although those things can all be important at different times.
The most important thing you can know, is that you are responsible for what you do next. You aren’t doing it because you have to. Even if work or life requires us to do some have tos once in a while, you are choosing to submit to them and having that responsibility changes everything.
It helped me transform. My problem wasn’t special and neither was I. I just started to be responsible.
Thank God I Failed.