Failing Towards Productivity

Near the onset of Coronavirus, a long-time friend texted asking if I would be her accountability partner. She runs her own business,, and knowing Jada and I are operating our own business, she thought this would be a mutually beneficial idea. I initially hesitated before responding, knowing if I were to become her accountability partner, then that means she would become my accountability partner. No more pushing off my to-do list for one more episode on Netflix, but actual accountability, to someone outside of our home. (In no way  does that devalue the accountability I have to those I live with, but when it comes to taking care of Samwell business, Jada and I are way too forgiving of one another’s schedules and last-minute obligations, for our commitments to one another to really count.) I thought about how hard it is to continue to push forward with no impending deadlines, and knew if I really wanted to make use of my time during COVID to accomplish something productive, this opportunity was more of a blessing. Despite my initial apprehension, I quickly responded, admitting I needed an accountability partner every bit as much as she did!

We’ve been meeting weekly for nearly a month, and today she reminded me of a statement I haven’t heard in a while. Since we started meeting I have been trying to figure out my just right next project. Should I switch gears and respond to COVID? Should I create a webinar? Should I run Zoom sessions? Facebook Live sessions? Should I write an ebook? Should we start a video series? As I was starting to prioritize continuing to organize files and resources over creating content goals and an action plan, she warned me against the dangers of getting sidetracked.  “Fail Forward Fast,” she said. There will always be articles and emails to organize, but to move forward you need to start, she explained. She continued by explaining if I fail forward fast, then I will quickly know what works and what doesn’t work, rather than just thinking and talking about what I think the outcome of my ideas will be. She had a great point, and although I’ve heard this statement before, I hadn’t thought about it in quite a while. As I reflect, I can see perfectionism rearing its ugly head in my thoughts, paralyzing me from moving forward.

Failing never feels comfortable, but Dr. Amanda Ryanfear says failing is like a muscle we need to strengthen. She states the first mental shift we need to make in order to conquer feeling overwhelmed and anxious, is to fail more, because when you’re comfortable with failure, then you won’t fear it so much. Honestly, I struggle with this notion.  Having ADHD, I am naturally prone to making impulsive comments and careless errors, so I have spent most of my adult life learning to censor my words and to think carefully before I act. To now, on a public forum, throw caution to the wind and just do, not focus on doing well, feels incongruent. However, I’m starting to realize failing equals freedom. To have the freedom to create without fear of everything being ‘just right’ allows for effortless forward movement. No one really wants to fail, but now I can see how this perspective, of finding comfort in failing, contributes to productivity as well. Failing forward is better than spinning in my current state of analysis paralysis. 

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