April Jeppson: Failing — though painful — helps you grow

Published 8:45 pm Friday, June 28, 2024

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Every Little Thing by April Jeppson

When I started working at a hotel, they taught me how to fold towels. I was an adult and thought I already knew how to do such a simple task. Boy was I wrong. Each size towel had a unique fold, and they all had to look the same. I remember doing laundry and being frustrated. It seemed as difficult as learning a new language and I just wasn’t catching on as fast as I thought I should have been. I had to keep referencing my co-workers towels to remember how to do it correctly. It had been awhile since I “sucked” at something, and I wasn’t used to that feeling.

April Jeppson

While frustrated, I knew in my gut that I’d eventually figure it out. I learned how to ride a bike and eat with chopsticks, so I had proof of my ability to acquire new knowledge. In fact, that’s one of my favorite things. I love to learn. Others may say that I actually love to ask questions. They aren’t wrong, I do ask a lot of questions. I have this need to understand how things work. Understanding why a towel is folded a certain way and then being able to execute it at an efficient level, however, are two very different things.

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“The difference between a master and a novice is that the master has failed more than the novice has tried.” — Anonymous

When you’re learning new things, you rarely look cool. It’s awkward, difficult, frustrating and sometimes painful. You also have to admit, to at least yourself, that you lack the knowledge or skills. Admitting that you don’t know something, makes you vulnerable and I haven’t always been confident in my ability to put myself out there.

I used to hesitate to ask questions because I thought it made me look dumb or weak. I remember being in a board meeting and having a question but being too shy to speak up. Within minutes someone else voiced their concern (which was the same one I had). They had spotted an error in the financials, and a healthy discussion ensued. That was the moment I stopped hesitating, if I had a question, I was going to ask it. I no longer cared how it made me look because my need to figure things out was greater than my need to impress people.

It’s hard to believe but I’m wrapping up my first year at my “new” job. They say the first year is the hardest when it comes to marriage and jobs, but I only found the latter to be true.

Any new position I’ve taken on, there’s always a hefty learning curve. New systems, new terminology, new people, new ways of folding towels. It can be a lot to take in at times, but I feel like God has been preparing me for years.

Through other experiences, he set me up to be ready for everything that I didn’t know I would be doing. I had to overcome my fear of people judging me. I had to learn to be OK with sucking at something. I had to start seeing failure as a comma and not a period. Obstacles became opportunities to pivot and try again in a different way. By the time I got this position,

I had years of heavy, awkward learning under my belt. Although I’ve already failed more times than some people have even tried, I look forward to many more years of failing forward.

Albert Lean April Jeppson is a wife, mom, coach and encourager of dreams. Her column appears every Saturday.