When Failure is Imminent And the Brave Decisions Made

John and I are at the completion of our biggest project ever for our Paintball Media company, cleverly called Paintball.Media. After nearly 30 years of producing paintball magazines, we are also moving into video with a full-length documentary being our first release.

Neither John nor I went to film school. Where did we get this crazy idea we could do this on our own? This is all John. This is life with John. He always has these crazy ideas and my role is to say yes or no. I said yes to this one.

This has been a 16-month, all-consuming project. So consuming that it will probably forever change our marriage. Change can be good too. Time will tell.

Near the exhausting end of 16-months of this different pace, we sat down together to watch the full documentary for the first edits. There were lots and lots and lots of edits needed. So many edits that it became clear that we were going to miss our early release deadline. A failure.

There were lots of emotions.

Do you know that point when failure is imminent? You are rushed with so many varying emotions:  fear, blame, shame, not good enough, who do I think I am?, who do you think you are?, doubt, anxiety, anger, rage, escape.

This was John and I for the next 18 hours.

Exhausted. Overwhelmed. Fear.
Let’s go out and get something to eat together.
We are back in the home office. Back to the reality of the work and the missed deadline.
Exhausted. Overwhelmed. Fear.

You know the person is telling you the honest truth. You know that it is the truth.
But you want to shut down and walk away.
You trust the person who is talking to you.
But you want to throw your computer.
Because failure is attached to what you are hearing.
You can maybe rationalize in these moments that the failure does not define who you are. But maybe not. The emotions are rushing.

Maybe this is because you screwed up and made bad decisions weeks ago. Or months ago.
Blame thoughts come to the forefront.

You asked for this conversation and you do want the honest truth.
So you breathe. Take a break.
But you still hate everything that happened.
Even though you know it is the truth.
Even though you know it is for the better.

So you sleep on it.
It is not a restful sleep.
You feel the anxiety. The failure is just below the surface.

You get up that morning ready to engage life with this new truth because you know it is still right.
You go back to work on it with that long list of edits.

You like what the changes are.
You really like what the changes are.
The failure is still just beneath the surface as you are growing excited again for the work.
You start to see the glimmer of possibility and it is all good.

The project is so much better! There is joy even though the deadline is missed.

You know these rush of emotions, don’t you? Especially when failure is imminent.

There were many points in those 18 hours that those emotions could have changed. They could have been numbed. They could have been diverted. They could have been redirected at me!

But John stayed in the holy tension of it all. He made that brave decision to stay in his feels while also breathing, eating, and finding some sort of rest. He made the brave decision to trust me. He made the brave decision to trust himself.

It was just 18 hours. Not 13 years. But it was an intense 18 hours. Which is why the joy of it is so much. And the content of the documentary is so good. And the pride of our work together and the growth of our marriage is so high.

Brave decisions can be so hard. Especially when the emotions are so strong.

Here’s to you choosing to let bravery define you rather than your pain—which triggers those emotions. Here’s to living brave decision to brave decision to brave decision. Even when failure is imminent. Here’s to you choosing that brave decision when the emotions of failure are overwhelming.

Something good is coming!

Photo by Dan Meyers on Unsplash