Hurry Up and Fail!
“Because when you do, you might have a few more bumps and bruises, but you might also grow richly in ways that you couldn’t have imagined.”
Last week on She’s in the City, we talked with Kathy Thomas, the mind behind and founder of Nashville’s only female-centric co-working space. Among the many nuggets of wisdom she offered, one really stuck for me.
“Hurry up and fail!”
Kathy sighted this as some of the most sage advice she received when building her first business, Kathy Thomas Photography. Though completely counterculture and almost offensive at face value, I can’t help but think we could all benefit from this paradigm. If this were the model for the work we do, relationships we start, heck, the goals we set in any capacity, might we actually finish the marathon instead of dropping out after the first painful sprint?
Don’t mishear me – I’m a sprinter. Not physically as I don’t believe my body was made to sprint any more than an SUV was made to fly 30,000 feet above sea level. But I do have a hard time pacing the climb when I can picture how the view from the top might look. I have had to make diligent and frequently failed efforts to meet the small things in front of me before trying to master the thing as a whole.
But why do we do this? Why the compulsion to perfect each step before moving forward rather than moving forward with honest, unsteady steps in hopes of a more complete finish? I think the truth is that we may never feel ready for things that mean the most. Because if we were ready, there would be no risk, no growth, and therefore, no reward. I think about the true definition scripture gives us of faith.
“Faith is being sure of what we hope for & certain of what we do not see.”
Now does that mean faith gives us a fast pass to haphazardly live, make irrational choices, and launch into important seasons unprepared? Of course not! But it does give us permission to hurry up and fail.
In just the way Kathy’s mentor encouraged her to make some mistakes in order to leave open-minded margin for growth, so too does faith remind us that we won’t take all the right steps, but we can still be certain of where we’ll end up. It takes the pressure off and gives us authority to make mistakes, because mistakes are strides toward a greater end when they’re lived out with humility and hope.
I remember very shortly after getting married, trying to “push” the hard stuff with Ben. Rather than enjoying the bliss of the honeymoon stage and avoiding conflict at all costs, I wanted to dive right in! Looking back this was not at all a motivation of emotional health but was entirely an attempt to prove to myself how “mature” we already were in our marriage. Well guess what, that was a hurry up and fail. I learned more about how not to approach issues and when not to address conflict than I did about how mature we were. I learned how to apologize while the wounds were small scrapes rather than deep scars, and I learned how to trust in little ways before I had to trust in huge ones.
I hope this is not the norm for most young couples. Enjoy honeymoon bliss! But for us, I couldn’t be more grateful for my selfishly motivated, over-eager desire to be the “best” at marriage. Because we failed early, we grew quickly. Because we didn’t try to brush over the small failures, we learned how share in the real successes. Because of the short time we had together, I’m eternally grateful we learned to hurry up and fail. Because when you do, you might have a few more bumps and bruises, but you might also grow richly in ways that you couldn’t have imagined.
Where are you resisting a hard conversation or change that needs to be made? What in your life might usher in relief and growth if you could acknowledge that it’s not working the way it is right now? Who do you need to address a small thing with so that it doesn’t fester into a big thing? Whatever it is for you, I pray you can see it humbly, address it courageously, and then hurry up and fail.