Living With Inspiration, Persistence and Failure | The BridgeMaker

Living with Inspiration, Persistence and Failure

By on Apr 26, 2010

I refuse to die in someone else’s comfort zone. – Anonymous

Article written by BridgeMaker contributor Paul D. Fitzgerald. Follow him on Twitter.

Inspiration is the purest and most powerful source of human motivation. It is the fuel for persisting and the power to face down the fear of failure.

We can also be motivated by the negative energy of fear, regrets, or the should’s imposed by the influence of other people or social groups whose approval we need to get or to keep. We may feel motivated by what appears to be positive energy; but it is really our infatuation with another person’s apparent success. Neither of these are healthy expressions of our truest-self from inside out.

To feel “inspired” is a wonderful feeling. Our ability to tap into that energy is limited by the degree we have not learned to live with a sense we might fail. Resistance of all kinds comes along with inspiration.

In fact, one form of self-sabotaging resistance comes in the false belief, “If it’s really an inspiration then it will be automatic or easy to achieve.” Resistance sets us up to give up when we experience the inevitable discrepancy between what we hoped for and the hard process of making it happen.

Persistence to see the light

The archetypal story about facing failure with persistence is Thomas Edison’s experience of over 700 failures to create an incandescent light bulb. He persisted by living with the apparent failures and reframing them as learning 700 things that did not work. The resistance he faced was not simply his internal fears, but the external pressure of peers who ridiculed him.

We are frequently surprised by external resistance from friends and family about our choice to make a healthy choice based on our inspiration (losing weight, going back to school, changing jobs, etc.). Acting on our inspiration challenges people in our life who know that a similar choice would be good for them, but the fear of failure and resistance stops them.

Live your inspiration

Our acting on inspiration can be an unconscious source of shame to them and they feel compelled to suggest what we are doing is foolish, dangerous or imply it will put the relationship with them at risk. We have to decide to act on our truest-self’s inspiration and move outside our comfort zone or to allow others to imprison us in theirs.

Living our inspiration is quite distinct from the agenda that our culture’s suggestion that ambition is what life is all about. As important as ambition is for getting the first-half of life started, living our inspiration will mean relinquishing ambition and success and our primary sense of worth and value.

For some of us it takes a crisis to wake us up to this reality. Many of us come to see it only in the second-half of life. Paradoxically, it means choosing to act on our inspiration (our soul’s vocation) in the face of potential failure and resistance where there is no assurance of success, being honored or validated.

Where we choose to do what inspiration calls us toward for the sake of doing it – with the freedom to play, sacrifice, and participate in the mystery we are.

Dr. Paul Fitzgerald is a Life Coach and offers several dimensions to help clients move toward personal wholeness and create a fulfilling life. You may contact Dr. Paul at

  • This entry is a good motivational reading already. sometimes, our peers are the failure pushers of what we want in life since they are afraid for us if we fail. But certainly, we can take that as a challenge that if we only focus on what we want, it means, we can achieve it.

  • Timely, so timely as I’ve only recently fought my way out of my box of fear, should’s, etc. I needed that reminder about persistence too, because one of my dirty dozen is to quit. And failure just validated how I already felt about myself – a failure, so it was to be avoided at all costs. Now I see failure as a validation that I stepped out of my comfort zone and tried, and I’ll keep taking those steps – trying again and again. I love the way you allow me to rethink things and change my perspective.

  • Great points Paul

    To follow one’s true calling taks guts to be outside ofthe nomr whcih is where inspiration frequently calls us to be. I have found that when I follow my heart things work out well and when I worry about what other’s think or focus on gaining approval, things often go south.

    Now is the time when we are all being called to show up to who were were born to be. I see inspiration as the connection between me and Source and cultivating that connection is key to living an inspired life.


  • Debbie

    Your contribution to The BridgeMaker was very good!! It’s always good to hear your thoughts and the wisdom and insight God has blessed you with to foster continued healing in others, including myself! The process is STILL working and at work in my life and I’m forever grateful. Thanks, Paul!

  • Jennifer Sheafer

    In so many areas of my life, I am re-learning how to live. A Christian ‘should’ look/act like thus and such; a homeschool Mom ‘should’ teach in thus and such way; should, should, should. Out with the shoulds!

    What inspires me…what is my soul’s vocation? I’m working on those answers and yet, I still find myself wondering how it will make others feel. As a wife and a mom (a friend, a sister, etc.) there is a place for concerning myself with their feelings and opinions, but not at the expense of my heart or too much of my energy.

    Here is a win. Margo the Magnificent has gone from 39 balls to almost none and the balls I, Jumping Puddles Jen, do juggle…well, they are because I WANT to. I guess re-learning how to live is working pretty well.