The other day I got a question from a longtime reader. J. (the reader) asked me how I “do it,” by which they meant how it is that I not only teach and write, but publish and do anything in the public eye. Later that same day, one of my coven members reached out to talk about a ritual they are writing, and another wanted to discuss an idea they had for a community project they were considering getting started.
Whew. That didn’t feel nearly as big a load dealing with it that day as it does writing it out. But this isn’t a post about how great I am (that would be weird); it’s about what ties all three of those moments together: a fear of failure.
Starting the community project has the potential to help out a group of people who likely don’t even know how much they need it. It’s not feeding the poor or anything so noble and, somewhat ironically, that was one of the things weighing against it being launched. More seriously, my friend has no specific credentials and was worried that it could go wrong.
The ritual idea is fantastic, and if it works out it will be amazing and transformative for the whole coven. The person writing it has entered a whole new level of ability and I am terribly proud of them. A successful outcome, however, requires that the leader not only give up a great deal of control (something leaders aren’t so good at) but also remove their ego from the picture.
As for me . . . All of my writing, teaching, and spiritual practice comes from this place of offering my hard-won knowledge to others so they may improve on it and use it for themselves. But it comes at a big cost to me. My nature is to be private and yet I have deliberately and consciously chosen to write about myself for the last 20+ years and create intimate relationships with my coven. Upon my shoulders has rested the responsibility of teaching newcomers to witchcraft while nurturing the spiritual growth of my coven. For years I wrestled with the demon of failure — a special burden considering that if I failed in my role, in my leadership, then I would actually be hurting others.
What has always gotten me through was a variation of “if I fail, how bad could it be?” I mean, will anyone die? It’s always true that if you don’t try, you’ll never succeed; that you fail at everything you don’t attempt. So, in the absence of actual death . . . what could you lose?
This image floated across my Pinterest board the other day and it sums it up well.
What aren’t you trying to do?
What if you succeed?