I recently watched a clip of Peter Dinklage giving a commencement speech at his alma matre, Bennington College.
Now, the footage was a little old (from 2012), but the ideas that he presents in his speech are things that every new college student, really ANY PERSON should consider as they take their journey through life.
Give yourself permission to fail.
How often are there things we want to try but make excuses as to why we can't? How often do we create things...art, literature, music...only to stockpile them away in a closet somewhere because we're too afraid other people won't find value in them? How often do we take the safe route instead of the difficult one?
The answer is the safe route too often.
In a world where we're told failure is not an option, we have to give ourselves permission to totally and completely fail.
Think about it. If we are willing to stop considering all of the alternatives and just let ourselves be the person we want to be. Do the things we have always wanted to do. Take chances. Where would we end up? Stop and consider that.
I once told a college student I was mentoring that we essentially have three choices in life when we reach what I call the Trust Fall. For those of you who don't know what this is, it's a high ropes challenge obstacle. Imagine. You've just completed several high ropes challenges, including climbing a tower, walking across ropes, trusting your partner to not let you fall, and then you come to a ledge. And you have to jump. You have to let yourself free fall.
When we come to these places, the bends in the road (or river), the high falls, we have to choose. Will we:
(a) climb down the tower ladder to safety and not take the leap at all?
(b) hold onto the safety rope as we leap so that we have some type of comfort as we plummet down to safety? OR
(c) go all in. Jump. And come out on the other side?
Each of these options has a different level of safety attached to it. I don't like heights or the feeling of falling. I knew what I had to choose when I encountered this choice. As I stood with the eight college students I supervised at that precipice, I knew that I needed to take option (c)-go all in.
Because, just like giving yourself permission to fail, we need to take changes in life to discover who we are. We need to take chances in life to learn new skills. We need to be willing to fail in order to find true success.
This doesn't mean that everything we do will turn out exactly how we imagined. We may, in fact, FAIL. But, as long as we learn lessons from this failure and keep pushing forward, that failure won't really matter. We'll come out stronger and more prepared for next time. And, we may get opportunities that we had never considered before.
So, as you come to the next fork in the river, the next choice to leap in or walk down, which will you choose?