I finally grew up enough to read “Fail, Fail Again, Fail Better” by Pema Chodron

“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”

Samuel Beckett

I was putting away our Christmas lights (finally), when I ran across a book in the storage area of our basement that made me pause and look closer. It’s called “Fail, Fail Again, Fail Better,” by Pema Chodron, with a forward by Seth Godin.

I’ve owned this book for several years, having bought it in a frenzy of Seth Godin consumption, but the spine was still uncracked. It was one of those books that I’d like to HAVE read, but not enough to go through the trouble of reading it. Like learning Spanish. I want to know it, but don’t particularly want to learn it. That was this book.

But this time, looking with different eyes, the book was simply right for me. I had to read it.

I still admire Seth Godin greatly–his is one of the three blogs I subscribe to–but more importantly I’d had the opportunity to read two of Pema Chodron’s books as a part of my re-introduction to myself after leaving the CEO role at VNN. It was her name on the cover that called out to me, to that human and vulnerable part of me that is playing a much greater role in my life these days. Seth’s name then complemented that call, justifying the read with an assurance that I would be better at work for the investment. It was an utter flip flop from when I had first bought the book, funny enough.

FFAFB is for the most part a transcript from a commencement address Pema did at Naropa University in 2014. Between that and “This is Water,” by David Foster Wallace, it’s fair to say that I’m a fan of reading commencement addresses. As I think about it, they cover some of the same ground, albeit from very different perspectives. The type of advice on how to live a meaningful life that we so often simply skip in our Western education’s rush to tell us how to get and perform jobs.

I won’t spoil the read, as I highly recommend the book whether you’re a vulnerable human or a professional optimizing for results, or some combination of the two. But I will say my favorite part was Pema’s intentional use of the word “forward,” rather than “positive,” in describing the power of being intentional about your attitude on life.

“Let’s use the word forward, instead of positive, because that includes whatever might happen. Instead of going backward into trying to find these little islands of security that keep giving out on you, you learn instead to fly or float and be okay in the formlessness or the groundlessness or the open-endedness of things, which is who you truly have been all along.”

Pema Chodron — Fail, Fail Again, Fail Better

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