"Do or do not, there is no try." -Yoda
On Thursday, I met up with an old friend.
She’s actually a former co-worker. My business partner and I hired her and one other amazing woman back in 2004 while pursuing a calling to launch a magazine for teenage girls.
The venture was destined to fail, but no one could tell me that. People tried, but I couldn't believe what they were saying until I lived it, which took two years and six figures of money none of us had as mid-twenty-somethings. As I succumbed to the fact that I could not continue pouring money into this project, I got depressed. I felt like I let everyone down. Eventually, I landed at Discovery Communications and moved on. But I was embarrassed about the failure, and I let time and distance create a barrier between me and the two employees I had.
Thus, meeting up in person with this old friend after a 10-year hiatus was like balm for my soul. She mentioned she was really sad when the magazine folded. I told her that I had been prideful about the calling on my heart, and that through that season, God taught me that failure is part of life.
After we parted ways, she left me a voice text thanking me for the opportunity 17 years ago. She said that job encouraged her to pursue her passion of fashion. How interesting that our collective failure contained important life lessons and path markers directing us both.
Here is the thing about your heart, or that part of your gut that won't let your brain stop ruminating about that latent passion: it’s there for a reason. But pursuing your passion is not about success as the world would measure it. Success takes many forms, and one of them is failure. I think we all know this intuitively; we know that failing is a part of learning and, eventually, finding success however that looks. Any Nobel Prize winner, Olympian or inventor would have countless stories of failures from their paths.
I approached writing The Beautiful List with an open mind and heart, and I did it at a time when I was immobile and knew God had given me the time to dedicate to it. I had no idea if anyone would ever read what I wrote. I thought maybe my daughter would, and that would be good enough. And I’m still completely unaware of who or how many will read this book. But the success or failure of the book in the world’s eyes is NOT why I wrote it.
I did it because I couldn’t not do it anymore.
And now I’m dedicating a lot of time to it because I believe today’s girls AND their moms need the message that’s in it. But if it flops — if no one buys it but my mom, if I never see it in a bookstore, if the reviews are terrible, if I end up spending more money to market it than I ever earn back in royalties — that will not be failure. (It’s not what I want, mind you, it’s just a very realistic and potential outcome.)
I have learned so much already from this process. I have become a better writer. I have inspired my children. Unlike the magazine did 15 years ago, the book flopping would not make me feel like a failure. Just like the magazine has with time, it would show me that reliance on God is always the answer. God has shown me the next right thing each step of the way, and He won’t fail me now.
The idea of writing a book was overwhelming. But the idea of writing 500 good words a day, five days a week, was digestible. And I never flogged myself when the words simply weren't there. So, friend, what’s holding you back from doing what excites you? What recurring thought or dream or passion is on the back burner because your job, your kids, your caregiving, your life, or your fear keep you waffling?
I encourage you to figure out what 500 words a day looks like to you, and dive into the deep end. Don't stand on the edge. Because regret is really the only true failure when it comes to pursuing a passion or a calling.