Geometry and the Fear of Failure

On July 11, 2012 by Eddie

Remember geometry? It may bring up some horrible memories, but go with me. Your geometry teacher probably talked about the difference between a point and a vector.

Points look like this:

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Vectors look like this:

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Points are stationary, fixed, immovable. Vectors are all about motion, they’re going somewhere, leaving the point behind and moving toward a destination.

I don’t know why, but for some reason I tend to always view my life in terms of points, instead of vectors. Whatever I’m going through, I view my entire life through the lens of the current moment. The result is that when things are going well, my life is great and I feel successful. But when I fail, it feels terrifyingly final. I feel as though I’m stuck in the mess of my own shortcomings, destined to stay there for a long time. Because of this, I’m incredibly afraid of failure. The fear keeps the cycle going, and growing, and it’s really hard to stop.

One of the only ways I’ve found to deal with this is to try and remember that my life isn’t as simple as a point. The specific point where I stand today isn’t nearly as important as where the trajectory of my life is moving. Am I growing? If so, then the momentary dips in the line have to be taken in context. Failure is a part of learning to keep moving in the right direction.

All that to say, as I’m about to release my new project I’m terrified of what will happen, and I’m actively fighting this belief that what I produce right now is the definitive work of my life – the thing I’ll be remembered or ridiculed by. That’s ridiculous, I know, and I’m asking God to hep me not see it that way. But it’s hard to avoid, it’s hard to see today in terms of a vector and not a point.

John Woodall has said to me that most people are either Past, Present, or Future oriented. I guess that has something to do with this as well, and I guess that makes me present-oriented. Living as a present-oriented person can be dangerous if you get so hung up in the moment that you lose perspective and see everything in snapshots that have no life, no trajectory to them.

What about you – do you tend to see yourself as a “point” or a “vector?” What helps you focus on the big picture instead of the momentary snapshot?

One Response to “Geometry and the Fear of Failure”

  • I’m a little of both. A “point” mostly, but I have learned to tell myself to “zoom out” and focus on the big picture, which is always a better view of what God’s will is. That’s where I gain much better perspective, flexability and direction and the stresses of the moment seem totally melt away!
    Eddie, your “points” seem to be assets in your creative process,which may be why you are such a gifted musician and lyricist.
    From the outside, it looks like points may be related to drive.

    Steve V.

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