By LaPora Lindsey
“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” ― Robert F. Kennedy.
The Story of Two Fish.
A fish called Smallfish lived in a lovely, clear bowl that sat by a large open window very close to the ocean. One day as Smallfish swam around in her bowl, she saw another fish in the sea. The other fish was a dirty little fish, but very polite. “Hello!” said the dirty little fish, “My name is, Thefish.”
“Hello!” said Smallfish and then quickly inquired, “Why are you so tiny?”
Thefish responded, “Life in the ocean is tough. There is always trouble around the corner. Someone always wants to eat me. I am penniless and always hungry, but I get the opportunity to explore the ocean, and I am grateful for that.”
Smallfish was disheartened at the response, but with pride, said, “Life in a bowl is wonderful! It is nothing like the ocean. And I can sleep in peace because I do not fear for my life. I eat every day, and I don’t fight for my food or my life. One day I will be a very big fish!”
Thefish swam away sadly.
Several weeks later, Smallfish had grown very much and had been placed in a much bigger bowl. As Smallfish swam around in a circle, she saw quite a large fish that looked very familiar through the window by the ocean. “Hello, Smallfish!” said the other fish, “It’s, Thefish!” Smallfish was shocked and couldn’t believe her eyes. How could a fish with such challenges be this big let alone, alive?
Thefish continued, “Even though my life was hard as a tiny fish, I have learned to swim very fast. I have learned to make friends and get food. And I have grown from the space to spread my fins. I am no longer afraid to sleep at night because I have developed a plan to work with other fish.”
“Wow,” said Smallfish, “your growth and has really made a difference.”
What’s true about this story is that there are different fish, all types and sizes. While Smallfish and Thefish may may have felt like they were the same there were not. They both grew to be their amazing sizes, but one also grew to in experience.
This story shares the truth that living a life of the expected and well prepared may leave less stress, but it may also take with it all of the opportunities for a story to be created. Let me share with you a story of my account…
I met up with a friend at a local coffee shop some years ago. We were both facing challenges in our careers, so, as a confidence booster, we planned to meet and list off our proud moments throughout our lifetime. I would soon discover that that list had more power than I could have ever imagined. I was initially thrilled at the opportunity to share what I achieved and my plans for the future. I quickly jotted down my lifetime accomplishments. But after a deeper observation, I noticed, the older I got the smaller my list of proud achievements.
At some point in my life, I became comfortable and took fewer risks and more roads of certainty. I had become predictably strategic. As I read through that list, it quickly demonstrated how well I avoided obstacles and challenges. It was disheartening to realize that the 10-year-old version of myself was more courageous than the 30 something woman I had become—that had to change.
After that meeting at the coffee shop, I adjusted my attitude, and I did what I thought was best. I set myself up for the benefits of facing a challenge, and I accustomed myself to the discomfort of rejection. I branched out once again, as I did when I was a child, and I began to examine different ways that I could be grateful for the times I tried and failed because they, too, were part of my journey to achieving my goals. My struggles and how I viewed them were key to embracing challenges rather than attempting to circumvent them.
I was taking a risk and reaping the consequences, both good and bad! And through it all, I saw myself growing and maturing, a lot like Thefish. As I became grateful for what I had, especially the rejections and dismissals, I quickly found myself appreciating who I was and the value that offered, and also yearning to challenge myself to try something new.
Every obstacle motivated me to try again and again. And so, even with discouragement, I surprisingly also gained fulfillment. Something satisfied my inner being by not being perfect. I built confidence in myself. Those tough moments taught me how to do things differently. They taught me that failing and being rejected doesn’t mean it’s over. And as much as I failed, it did not increase my comfort; it only increased my familiarity. I tried, I learned, and I grew.
In my time between childhood and adulthood, I lost sight of the blessings that come from not getting it right. I became a Smallfish with my thoughts. I lost sight of the message that our imperfections are the perfect place for perfection. I am still learning to let go, one mistake at a time, but I am so glad I have started this process. I am becoming, Thefish.