I subscribe to a number of email lists & podcasts that focus on growth & change. One that I really enjoy is the Reboot.io podcast, from a company that embraces, encourages and helps to foster change & healthy behaviours to support that change in companies. The most recent email I received from them has the title “The Cost of Failure” and features the interview between Jerry Colonna & Tom Eisenmann where they discuss really important ideas around failure: worth, identity, behaviour & compassion. I really recommend listening to it if you can spare about 45 minutes:
Everything they discuss in the podcast is so important to the health & awareness of entrepreneurs and the people who work with them.
There’s a quote from Jerry Colonna that they included at the top of the email that made me pause:
The point of roller coasters isn’t to be better at riding roller coasters; it’s to learn how not to board the roller coaster at all. Coney Island’s Cyclone is best appreciated from the ground. Resilience isn’t the goal; it’s the path. The goal is the equanimity of a warrior.”Jerry Colonna
Now, in the context of the podcast about failure and how entrepreneurs can be especially prone to the highs & lows of running a business, I can understand how you don’t necessarily want to willingly choose a path that will twist & turn and cause your heart to race and your stomach to drop.
I know many of you will probably relate to the feeling of wonder & excitement (and fear, to be honest) of the roller coaster at the amusement park. The mental planning & weighing of options, discussing with friends how excited you were (or fearful), and how you planned to work up your nerve to standing in line for that ride. And then, the initial plunge….
And the absolute, uninhibited feeling of exhilaration as you let go of your control and enjoyed the ride and being in the moment.
When I looked up the word “exhilaration”, I was assuming that there was a relation to the concept of “breathing”, seeing some similarity to the word “exhale”. The definition from etymonline.com is the “act of enlivening or cheering; state of being enlivened or cheerful”. It comes from the fragments “ex” meaning “out of” and “hilarare” meaning “to make cheerful”. “Hilarare” is the root of words like hilarious and hilarity.
When I saw that quote in the email about how the roller coaster was best appreciated from the ground, it made me smile and think about the times I had chosen to not ride the latest scariest ride, and everything that I might have missed out on.
Of course, when you can see the path laid out in front of you and see how challenging it can be, I can understand why the option to avoid the path is always good to consider. But if you listen to the conversation in the podcast and see how it’s possible to separate the failure from the person, you can start to appreciate what you can learn from the process. The exhilaration you may feel during the ride might sustain you and help you work through your fear. There’s a quote I’ve shared before from Frederick Salomon Perl:
“Fear is excitement without the breath.”Frederick Solomon Perl
This was the quote that initially came to mind when I thought about the word “exhilaration”. I thought about how we hold our breath when we’re afraid or when we’re falling. Instead, separating the failure from the person (the business might have failed but I didn’t fail) and seeing what we can learn from the process can help us to become enlivened from it, to be exhilarated. And maybe then, it makes it easier to make that choice again.
Thank you for the time you’ve taken to read this and I hope it has resonated with you in some way.