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Failing Forward

One thing that keeps us stuck in our comfort zone is the fear of failure. We all know failure is a part of life and getting past it is necessary to grow in life. Failing shows us ways to improve and allows us to set goals for improvement. We usually learn this as children or adolescents and are actively encouraged to try (and fail) at new things. However, as we reach adulthood, we have more freedom to set our lives the way we wish. The inevitable result of this is we tend to give ourselves fewer opportunities for failure.


Failure generally just means not meeting a goal. While life presents natural opportunities to fail, such as in our jobs, we are usually not presented with as many opportunities to find ourselves outside of our areas of competence. The amount of resources and effort required to find those opportunities gets higher and higher. How do we then prevent ourselves from becoming stuck and stagnant in our growth? The key is to seek out opportunities to fail intentionally. To do this, exploring activities outside of our competence needs to be a way of life. This can take the form of new activities, but it is easier to find opportunities for failure by setting higher goals in the activities we already do.


You probably can drive to work and arrive on time successfully. Can you do it without committing any traffic infractions? If you type at work, can you type everything you need to without missing a single keystroke? Very quickly, you will find yourself outside of your comfort zone and failing all the time. If you take the task seriously, it will be frustrating, and stressful, and remind you of why you do not set ridiculous goals that seem to set you up for failure.

However, there are two important observations in that failure. The first is that, even for just a moment, you did succeed. Finding perfection in a moment is absolutely possible for you. The second is that your attention has now been directed to thoughts and internal processes that you probably leave on autopilot most of the time. You will be able to notice the subtle things that break down when you perform the normal activities of your life. The consequence of this practice is that failure becomes a natural part of life. Failure is the proof that you are moving forward.

The path of growth students of Tumfo Tu follow is a path of constant failure. In Tumfo Tu, the lessons we learn on the floor help us become good students of life. This requires us to seek out perfection in all areas of our being. We must fail 1,000 times a day. With this mentality, a fear of failure simply cannot exist. Instead of just making peace with failure, we consider it part of the process of growing in life. There is no peak. There is no final goal. There is just continuing to know ourselves better. We walk this journey on the floor with constant challenges, but we must also walk this journey off the floor by finding new ways to fail as we improve. We never know what we are actually capable of. At Tumfo Tu, we are constantly working toward finding out.

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