Learning to #EpicFail….with Style

Yes, the picture above is me, right before I learned how to ride a dirt bike this past Thanksgiving weekend (We will use the very loose definition of “learned” for this blog’s purposes). Anyway, that is the cool picture, by the way. Sadly, it was probably the only time I looked cool for the rest of the day.

It started out well enough, but get too many Type-A family members together and, well….yeah. Not pretty. I should learn not to bait to 12-year-old smack talk. Sigh. I took up the challenge that, despite being almost 40 and possessing no discernible motorcycle skills, I could learn how to ride a dirt bike. It had always been on my bucket list, so why not?

I tend to be a pretty fast learner, and, at least in the beginning, I seemed to be a natural. Ah, but here is where the problem can start. Apparently, there are two critical curves that should always run parallel–The Skill Curve and Confidence Curve. When the Confidence Curve outpaces the Skill Curve? You get this….

I was zooming along on the flat, nicely packed dirt having a good time. Ah, but then the thought sneaked, snuck, snooked—whatever—into my brain that I needed a bigger challenge. I wanted to try out some hills. It didn’t help that my 12 year old nephew was zooming circles around me.

You dang whipper-snipper! I’ll show you!

Sometimes I wish I had a Delorean so I could go back in time and slap some sense into Younger Kristen. What were you thinking? Getting in the Not-Smart-Zone. Seriously???? Why would you remotely think that is a good idea?

Photo courtesy of Fanboy.com

As you can probably guess, my motor cross experience was an #epicfail. I was looking good, so onlookers say (Ever notice they call them “onlookers” when referencing something stupid/tragic?).  Then I hit a rock and it was a$$ over elbows. I slightly sprained both ankles, bruised the dickens out of my shoulder, and took about five layers of hide off my right forearm…

…and then I got right back on.

This is what a life of failure has taught me. We try, we fail, we try again and do things differently, and sometimes even better. The faster we learn to have a healthier relationship with failure, the faster we will meet with success. Frankly, if we aren’t failing, then we aren’t doing anything interesting. So if failure is part of the successful person’s life, why not learn to fail with style?

Many of us spend years trying to avoid failing. I sure know I did. Many of us are so terrified that we will look foolish or stupid that we can be paralyzed. We allow fear to steal the best experiences and the best memories. How? If we fear failure, we never try. We fail by default.

Failure isn’t to be feared at all. In fact, failure is awesome. Failure makes us better. It makes us smarter. Failure will teach us more than success ever will.

For instance, I now know that if I ever get back on a dirt bike, hills are not my thing. I’ve learned to slow down, to not let my ego take over driving, because Kristen’s ego looks a lot like Mayhem.

Allstate Insurance provided actual photo of Kristen Lamb’s ego.

Yes, I admit there are times I would like to go back in time and right the wrongs, use some Space-Time-White-Out to make my life perfect. Yet, when I think about it a little harder, when I can press past the need to wince when I look at my short-comings, I see my failures a little differently. My failures make me more interesting. My funniest memories and most poignant lessons were all birthed by my failures. My failures shortened my learning curve. Failing made me humble. Failures made me teachable. Failures make me relatable.

Failure gets easier the more we fail. Sort of like those boxers who have someone throw a 12 pound medicine ball at their abdominals to toughen them to take a punch. What if, instead, they babied their bodies? They never hit their abs or bruised them. They would be toast. The best way to get good at failing is to try a lot of stuff and fail…and then fail some more.

Back to my dirt biking fiasco experience. I know years ago, my ego would have been far too bruised to fish my dirt bike off the side of the hill and try again. I would have felt sorry for myself, mortified and embarrassed. I would have nursed my stinging wounds and babied my tender ankles in the safe warm house…and I would have missed out on a lot of fun.

See, the other cool lesson about failing, and failing a lot, it we get better discernment. We are able to tell the difference between a mortal wound and something that stings like hell, but we can walk it off and be fine if we just get back on that horse (metaphorical dirt bike) and ride. We learn to pay better attention and not let the Confidence Curve surpass the Skill Curve. And, if we do?

Walk it off.

We also get better at discerning what activities are worth our time and talent. Dirt biking? Yeah….tried it, but don’t really see it in my future. I got back on, rode around for another hour and then was able to part ways with no unfinished business….no “what ifs?”.

Life is much the same way. My opinion? We should love as if we will never be hurt, give as if we can never lose, and try as if we can only win. Many of you following this blog are writers. Keep writing. Sure, the first novel might be awful, but keep moving. Let it go. You wiped out. Walk it off. I failed at #nanowrimo. After a month, I only had 33,000 words. What did I learn? That I have room to grow. I have 33,000 more words than when I started. Failing is part of living, so get back on and write again and again and THAT is how best-selling novels are made. And, if failure is part of being a successful author, then why not #EpicFail with style ;)?

So what are your #EpicFails? What has failure taught you? Are you still afraid of failing? Why? Share! I love hearing from you!

And to prove it and show my love, for the month of December, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.

I will pick a winner every week for a critique of your first five pages. At the end of December I will pick a winner for the grand prize. A free critique from me on the first 15 pages of your novel. Good luck!

I also hope you pick up copies of my best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer . Both books are ON SALE for $4.99!!!! And both are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in th biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left to write great books!

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  1. #1 by memphismckay on December 2, 2011 - 11:58 am

    God I love the allstate insurance man.
    And I loved this post, Kristen, as always! Thank you!

    • #2 by Darlene Steelman on December 2, 2011 - 3:46 pm

      the Allstate guy cracks me up! Just like Kristen ;)

      Kristen.. I am glad you at least tried the dirt bike thing.. :D

      I love dirt bikes and motorcycles!! I have wrecked three times!! But I keep getting back on.. just like with writing.

      I’m either tenacious or dumb. BAHAHAHA!!!

  2. #3 by Marcy Kennedy on December 2, 2011 - 12:08 pm

    Thanks for another great post. When my husband was taking ju-jitsu, one of the first things they taught him was how to fall because falling was inevitable so he had to know how to do it without getting seriously injured. Like you said, failure’s a lot like that :)

  3. #4 by Jessica O'Neal on December 2, 2011 - 12:09 pm

    Thank you for this post. This is such a good lesson to be reminded of. I am definitely someone who is afraid of failure, but I am working on (and getting better at) taking more risks. Thank you for sharing your “#epicfail”!

  4. #5 by Piper Bayard on December 2, 2011 - 12:14 pm

    I’m torn between laughing and hurting for you and your ego. :) Lol. Ok. The laughing won out. But I hope you’re feeling better soon.

    It’s so true that failing teaches us to be stronger. I think the modern world with all of its over-protective micromanaging is squashing out something very important. The confidence that comes from failing (or falling) and trying again.

    It blows me away that so many teens aren’t eager to drive. I know a dozen teens 15-18 who don’t even have their learner’s permits yet. They don’t have the confidence to take to the roads. I see that lack of confidence in them as the result of a generation that hasn’t been allowed to skin its knees.

    Thanks for a great post.

    • #6 by amy kennedy on December 2, 2011 - 12:25 pm

      Errr, Piper, I’m kinda happy about the younger teens not wanting to drive :) just kidding. But you are so right, let the kid fall down for cripes sake!

  5. #7 by Anne R. Allen on December 2, 2011 - 12:22 pm

    LOL! You are awesome, Kristen! I think #epicfails could also be called #greatadventures. Failure is how we learn. I like to make sure I fail at something at least once a week, so know I’m moving forward. :-)

  6. #8 by amy kennedy on December 2, 2011 - 12:23 pm

    “…funniest memories and most poignant lessons were all birthed by my failures.” A thousand times yes. We’re all so much more interesting because of our failures. Could I impart any kind of wisdom — and I use the term loosely — on my children if I hadn’t failed?

    Yay for #Epicfail!

  7. #9 by Rachel A. Hanson on December 2, 2011 - 12:25 pm

    Thanks for the reminder, I definitely need it today. Who am I kidding? I need the reminder every day!

    The only thing that I conisder to be a failure is something that I can’t learn from. For example, I’m wrapping up one of the most difficult classes of my college career. It’s a graduate level class that’s required for my undergraduate degree (why, I have no clue.) I had difficulty in improving in that class because I never recieved feedback into how I was doing. However, I continued to get “C” grades on my papers. I can only hope that in this situation my final project is good and that I get a “C” at the end of the day.

  8. #10 by Lance on December 2, 2011 - 12:32 pm

    Our egos are similar. The rejection letters I’m getting our your dirtbike rides.

    I know that I have to keep writing, and keep writing better.

    Good post. Great picture.

  9. #11 by Diane Henders on December 2, 2011 - 12:52 pm

    #EpicFails are not only wonderful learning opportunities, they’re also much more interesting to others than successes. Nobody really wants to hear about your perfect ride.

    They want to hear about the time you drove into a huge puddle without realizing it was hip-deep and the guys had to haul you and your mud-caked bike back to dry land. Or the time the footpeg broke off while you were going fast on the straightaway. Or the time the brakes gave out halfway down the steep hill. (These are just a few of my dirt-biking adventures).

    I don’t particularly enjoy #EpicFails while they’re happening to me, but some little part of me is thinking, “This’ll make a great story!” :-)

    • #12 by Author Kristen Lamb on December 2, 2011 - 1:02 pm

      Awesome…almost makes me want to get back on a dirt bike.

      ….after my ankles, shoulder and wrists heal, LOL.

  10. #13 by Tasha Turner on December 2, 2011 - 12:53 pm

    Nanowrimo – managed to do about 1000 words. Great post. If I win it might be a few months before I have the pages for your review. :)

  11. #14 by Prudence MacLeod on December 2, 2011 - 1:13 pm

    I do feel your pain, and I understand full well how you got it. The year I turned forty I took up mountain biking with my fourteen year old son; I have the scars to prove it. Get thee behind me, ego.

  12. #15 by Catherine Johnson on December 2, 2011 - 1:14 pm

    You look so cool Kristen, that reminds me of trying to water-ski. The driver gets so frustrated after about five attempts to get you out of the water. They’ve all been driving 3 hours every weekend for years doing this. So funny. That and proper skiing. The thing is you know when you first fail at that stuff, you’re a bit blind to it with the writing. For the first little while anyway ;) Great post!

  13. #16 by Elizabeth Anne Mitchell on December 2, 2011 - 1:19 pm

    Great post, Kristen, and I’m right there with Tasha. I really don’t want a critique of everything I’ve been shoving in desk drawers all these years, do I?? Um, #EpicFail story from me is when my entry for a regional poetry contest was ripped to bloody shreds in front of an audience of about 300 people. I wish the critics had given me something to work with instead of “Quit writing.” Yes, that is a quote.

    But, you know, I didn’t listen. I’m still writing, and trying very hard to get back on that dirt bike. Thanks for the inspiration. :)

  14. #17 by Leigh D'Ansey on December 2, 2011 - 1:50 pm

    I’ve learned that failing at one thing doesn’t mean you’ve failed at everything – takes a while to figure it out though and I’m still learning.

  15. #18 by deanne wilsted on December 2, 2011 - 2:54 pm

    This reminds me of the quote: Well behaved women seldom make history. It is unfortunate that we still teach our children (espeically our little girls) that they must be perfect…. look perfect, act perfect. My daughter has already learned this lesson so well tat she is now scared to try, and I am having to go back and re-teach the beauty of failure. Thank you for one more resource to help my campaign.

  16. #19 by educlaytion on December 2, 2011 - 3:16 pm

    I know a lot about failure. A really lot. The optimist in me says I just figured out a whole lotta what don’t work. Things are getting better in this stretch of life now though. I’ll take #epicfail for the win :-)

  17. #20 by bridgetstraub on December 2, 2011 - 3:22 pm

    I thought this was such a no brainer, brilliant win win, but so far I have no takers. wp.me/p1j3K3-b4 Granted I only put this up a few hours ago, but come on! Seriously, nobody???

  18. #21 by Karen McFarland on December 2, 2011 - 3:52 pm

    Well Kristen, I certainly hope your wounds were superficial.

    Seriously, my hat is off to you for writing as much as you did with all the many directions you run in!

    Thank you for this example. Oh yes I always fear failing. And right now I don’t even know if what I’m doing with my blog is the right thing. Time will tell.

    Thank you so much for the wonderful info you’ve shared with our class. You are amazing Kristen!

  19. #22 by Fabio Bueno on December 2, 2011 - 4:27 pm

    They say we learn from our failures. Pretty soon, I’ll know everything.

  20. #23 by CF Winn on December 2, 2011 - 5:28 pm

    LOL…I so enjoy your blog! It’s not only inspirational, but funny! (Also, I’m a sucker for a good picture book story) If failures are “awesome”, I am the “awesomest” person out there! CHEERS to all of our #epicfails! *clink*

  21. #24 by Laura Drake on December 2, 2011 - 6:02 pm

    Kristen, my motorcycle sister!

    As you can tell from my photo, I ride. I also learned at 40 – when my husband bought me one for my birthday. My experience turned out better than yours (probably because I stay on pavement!) I now have put on over 100,000 miles.

    Now, don’t get me wrong – I have several massive #EpicFails to my credit (but let’s not dive into my love life — trust me, it’s not for the fainthearted.)

    BUT — I’ll never be the old broad at 80, sitting on a porch in a rocker, wishing I’d have tried something. I’ve always just jumped in…haven’t drowned. Yet.

  22. #25 by karenselliott on December 2, 2011 - 6:14 pm

    I’m not commenting to get my name in the hat (seriously, I’ll give it away to a friend), but I loved this blog post. Dare to fail. Just dare. Just go do it, try it. It’s better than sitting at home and wishing this and wishing that. And the pictures were cool, too.

  23. #26 by Kathy Kulig on December 2, 2011 - 7:28 pm

    Cute story Kristen, Yes, it does sound like the writing life. Fall off the bike, get back on, fall off again get bruised, get back on and try something different, etc. It’s not failure, just a step closer to success.

  24. #27 by Laney on December 2, 2011 - 8:24 pm

    You are simply awesome. Love your posts, your humor and your drive. Very inspiring post.

  25. #28 by Jenna B on December 2, 2011 - 10:01 pm

    I started out in theatre. Classical acting has always been my love. In my first Shakespearean acting class, our teacher would stop us, mid-line, if we jumbled the text or dropped a word and gave us a line reading. Instead of starting over with the stress of messing up, we had to yell “Hey everybody, I f*cked up!” and the class would cheer. Then we could get on with it. Writing can be a pretty solitary business (no one around to cheer when I screw up), and with so much opportunity out there, I feel a lot of pressure to get something published. Now. Right now. Last week, already, c’mon! Recently I’ve come to realize that the more I fear the perceived failure of not being part of the crowd with titles behind my name, the more immobile I become. Stuck equals frustrated, entitled, petulant… none of my best sides. I think throttling back on the self-imposed pressure to succeed at this very second and continuing to develop my own writing muscles is my take-away from this. It was very timely. Thanks, Kristen.

  26. #29 by Renée A. Schuls-Jacobson on December 2, 2011 - 10:25 pm

    I just started writing about this. This summer I took a dance class. I used to be a dancer. It should have been easy. I was the youngest person in the class. But I sucked! Sucked. I have video. They were all going to the right, and I am going to the left.

    What did I learn? Practice matters.

    I haven’t danced in a long time. All these women have never stopped. So, to link to writing, as you say, if something sucks, we just have to brush ourselves off and keep writing. We can’t be afraid to experiment.

    Because even though I sucked, I was still moving my body and using my brain.

  27. #30 by Yolanda Early on December 2, 2011 - 10:44 pm

    Love this post!(as usual) At this point, I know that failure is necessary, and I don’t fear it so much. I just don’t like it. I find that the more I expose my epic fails, the easier it gets to go through them. Most people are pretty understanding about it all. Once you take the humiliation factor out, the fails are more like growing pains– uncomfortable but worth the stretch.

  28. #31 by annstanleywriting on December 2, 2011 - 10:57 pm

    This reminded me so much of learning to ride a motorcycle. I took the class, got my license, bought a bike, and dumped it on the way home from the store, breaking one of the side mirrors! Then snowboarding – that’s another story. I needed a laugh tonight, and you gave it to me.
    Howsomever…. While I don’t mind making an ass of myself learning something new, I am terrified of having my writing rejected. So good of you to remind me that we have to take risks where they count.

  29. #32 by Donna Amis Davis on December 3, 2011 - 2:10 am

    Kristen, this is #EpicPost, in my opinion. Love this quote, “Frankly, if we aren’t failing, then we aren’t doing anything interesting. So if failure is part of the successful person’s life, why not learn to fail with style?” among other great things you said. Funny that writing 33,000 words in a month rates as a failure, if it is during NaNoWriMo. The take-home for me was about my blogs. They aren’t taking off and running away like I’d hoped they would (yet! still hoping!). But hey, if I wasn’t failing, I wouldn’t be doing anything interesting. I don’t think they qualify as #EpicFail though, because that implies public humiliation, and no one knows about them. Maybe more like #PersonalChagrin.

    Thanks again for encouraging words.

  30. #33 by Monique on December 3, 2011 - 10:33 am

    This post came at the perfect time for me! I just finished my first manuscript and, well, it’s crap. But despite that, I’m proud that I finished it and I’m excited to start the next one. Because, as you stated above, I have learned from this and I know the next one will be better. When you know better you do better! Thanks for your post, Kristen.

  31. #34 by Joanna Aislinn on December 3, 2011 - 9:59 pm

    I doubt I would have passed my clinical work with kids but I’m now there close to full time and confident in a way I never thought possible back in THAT day. Almost lost my first job due to major lack of confidence but that sound up making me “strong girl”. Do it again? Uh, no. Trade who I am b/c of the experiences? Never. Great post and very cool outfit, Kristen. ;)

  32. #35 by tashaseegmiller on December 4, 2011 - 11:03 am

    I love that the more we fail, the more we know how to recover after failure. Both good and bad, right?

    Loved this post, and have no desire to ride a dirt bike.

  33. #36 by Tameri Etherton on December 4, 2011 - 5:58 pm

    Failure is always an option, that’s what I tell my kids. Great advice and I’m sorry about the ankles and road rash. Those are never fun. I used to race dirt bikes when I was a kid. I learned a lot about failure back in the day, but I sure had a blast doing it!

  34. #37 by Jennifer M Eaton on December 4, 2011 - 10:19 pm

    Epic Fail with style. You are toooo funny.

    I wanted to let you know I nominated you for the Versatlie Blogger award. You are one of the people I consider “Professionsall” but I just love your blog. I hope I draws more people here to read your work. Congratulations!

    http://jennifermeaton.com/2011/12/03/versatile-blogger-award/

  35. #38 by Jennifer M Eaton on December 4, 2011 - 10:29 pm

    Omigosh, how many typos can I make in one paragraph? I need to get some sleep. Sorry!

  36. #39 by Maryann Miller on December 5, 2011 - 12:29 pm

    Great post as always, Kristen.
    My #epicfail occurred when I was producing a movie. My partner and I had everything lined up, initial investors, distribution, directors, one “name” star, and all were contingent on getting the rest of the money. Looking good until the bottom dropped out of the oil market in the late 80s and we lost our lead investors. The rest of the project fell like a line of dominoes. While the movie never got made, I still do not consider the time and effort a total waste. We, I, learned so much and had so much fun for two years that it could never be considered a complete failure.

  37. #40 by Jami Gold on December 5, 2011 - 1:16 pm

    Great post, Kristen! a) Love Mayhem. :) b) Good for you to try dirt-biking and then try it again. c) Agree with this post a hundred times over. If we’re not failing, we’re not trying hard enough.

  38. #41 by Earl B Russell on December 5, 2011 - 4:48 pm

    Kristen, failure builds character, and spectacular failure builds even more of it! Now you’re an even better person with a new experience under your belt as a bonus.

  39. #42 by Marilag Lubag on December 8, 2011 - 12:01 am

    Awesome, Kristen! Wish I have enough balance to ride a bike. :-)

  40. #43 by Bridgette Booth on December 8, 2011 - 8:28 am

    Perspective! I like putting my #epicfailures into perspective. :) This is my current lesson and I am slowly starting to appreciate how I am willing to jump into situations and (possibly) make a fool of myself. But. . . I’m in. Doing it.

    As you pointed out, and I’m starting to realize,that counts too.

  41. #44 by M.E. Anders on December 9, 2011 - 9:47 am

    Hilarious, Kristen. I grew up in a family of motocross guys…I was the only girl. Therefore, I LOVE riding dirt bikes – I even learned to jump ramps. Not bragging, just saying. ;)

    Fun post and relevant perspective.

  42. #45 by lynnkelleyauthor on December 12, 2011 - 9:24 pm

    Wow, I thought that was a pic of two kids! Seriously. You still have a teen’s body. Love the confidence curve and the skill curve needing to be equal. So true. Kudos to you for getting back up on that dirt bike. You are one gutsy lady, for sure. And your awesome humor is always a highlight for me!

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