The Key to Success? Massive Failure

fallentreequoteI was talking with a teacher about a student in her classroom whose behavior was out of control one day to the point that she decided he needed a visit to the principal to reinforce the rules. She had to admit that she was amused however at his comment upon arriving at the principal’s door. It seems that under his breath he muttered, “I bet nothing good ever comes out of a visit here…”

Success is a word that is discussed and thrown around a lot.  In schools, teachers are focused on making sure students are successful.  Businesses set  and achieve goals in order to be successful.  We are all interested in learning how to be successful in our careers, in our family life and in our social life.  We can even learn how to  be successful in our spiritual life. There are books, classes and even coaches who chronicle how to be successful.

Failure on the other hand is something to be avoided, isn’t it?  There is lip service given to learning from our mistakes, but do we really accept failure as a necessary part of the path to success?  Do we dash head long into failure or try to skirt around it?  In an article from Darren Hardy of Success magazine, he writes that some of the best advice he ever got on how to be successful, was to increase his rate of failure.  He was told he should try to fail fast and often.  Does this sound crazy to you?  Does it make you nervous? It does me!

“I wasn’t failing, I was learning how to succeed.”

This quote from Ted Turner re-frames the experience of failure.  Rather than looking at it as something to avoid, he approaches it as a learning opportunity.  There is much to be gained from failure and not just how to avoid it next time.  Sometimes there is opportunity in failure to begin again using the lessons learned.

“The key to success is massive failure… whoever can fail the most, the fastest and the biggest, wins.”

says Tom Watson of IBM.  How can this be true?  Here is an example:  Today when I stopped for gas, there were several sales people offering to spray some magic wax product on cars as a demonstration of it’s amazing ability to clean off all kinds of stuff.  Some of the sales people were standing around looking uncomfortable, but the one that approached me knew what he was doing.  He wasn’t pushy just helpful. He identified things on my car that needed cleaning and showed the benefits. He showed off the product. He made a sale.  When you are selling, the more chances you take at failure, (in this case approaching people who may say no), the more chances you have that you will find the people who want to say yes.  How many no’s does it take to  get to a yes? An average of seven, I’ve heard. If you approach failure as a necessary experience to get through to get to yes, it becomes something you want to seek out frequently.

 “The increase in volume, speed and size of my failure also increased the volume, speed and size of my success.”

writes Darren Hardy, publisher and founding editor of Success magazine.  What if you set a goal for yourself, not of how many times you could succeed but of how many times you could fail?  What if the magic wax salesman set a goal of 25 no’s in a day, or in a couple of hours?  What if he met his goal?  Don’t you imagine that he would have also been the most successful of the sales team that day?  Those other sales people who were standing around waiting for things to happen didn’t hear any no’s… they also didn’t hear any yeses.  He would have taken the most risks but he would have also reaped the most benefits.  He would have heard, “No thanks” the most but I bet he would also have heard “OK, I’ll buy that”  the most too.  In the process, he would also have learned a lot about the best approaches to use and practiced them the most frequently.

Failure.  A word and experience that most of us avoid.  But contrary to  popular belief, failure isn’t the end of the road, just the beginning of a new path.  Failure isn’t just useful.  It isn’t just a great opportunity to learn.  It is often a necessary part of success.  In many cases, where there is no failure, there is no success.

Since I believe that failure is an important part of winning that we all need to learn to cope with, I’ve written a new children’s picture book on the topic. In the newest story Wyatt didn’t make it on the All Star Baseball Team and he feels like a loser.  All his friends will be playing baseball this summer, while he and his pesky sister, Callie, visit grandparents at the beach.  How Wyatt learns to handle disappointment and failure will be an important lesson for the future.  Will he give up trying new things?  Will he have the confidence to try again?  Check out Wyatt the Wonder Dog Learns about Winning here:  http://wyatthewonderdog.com/booklaunch

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Three Benefits of Scheduling a Time of Rest

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I am writing this post from the beach where I am relaxing and fellowshipping with friends for a few days. We are sitting on the balcony; drinking coffee and watching the dolphins cavort in the ocean. The ocean is clear, blue-green and there is a gentle breeze blowing. Can you close your eyes and imagine yourself here with us?

It is Sunday afternoon and I am trying to follow the good advice of everyone from God to the last book I read on personal time management and have one day where I am not driven to accomplish anything but instead I rest and rejuvenate. I am sitting on my screened porch; drinking iced tea and reading a book that I have been anticipating delving into for quite some time. Can you close your eyes and imagine yourself here with me?

The Importance of Scheduling Time to Rest

Rest, rejuvenate, revive, replenish. How often do you accomplish this goal? This is always on my list but it is a challenge to succeed. What is the purpose of this time? Not only does it renew our energy but it also gives focus and jumpstarts our lives in a very positive contemplative way. Can you schedule a regular time for this? Can you renew your spirit with fun and friends? Can you unplug from the routine, the technology, the constraints of your life on a regular basis? Resolve to take some time off each week during which you do not touch your computer, check your email or Facebook or worry with your schedule, routine or daily chores. How does that feel? Are you more creative? Energized? Relaxed? See what I mean? God had it right along.

By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. Genesis 2:2-3

The Benefits of Scheduling a Time of Rest

In my last post I wrote about coping with the stress of change.  One way to accomplish this is to set aside time for rest and rejuvenation.  Aside from the fact that it feels good to rest what are the benefits?  There are several:

  • It renews you mentally.  Some of my most creative time is following a period of rest.  Rest gives our brains a time to process the world around us.
  • It renews you physically.  Even the most active and athletic among us need a time for our bodies to rejuvenate and rebuild.
  • It renews you spiritually.  Restful times are times when we allow our spirit to be open to God’s message.  So much of the time,  our lives are filled with the noise of our technological industrial world.  It takes a special mindset to tune-out the noise and tune in the quiet.

I hope you too schedule some time to relax, rejuvenate and refresh your spirit.

“Solitude well practiced will break the power of busyness, haste, isolation, and loneliness.”   Dallas Willard

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Coping with the Stress of Change

unevenroadsignThere’s a cartoon of a dog that pulls and pulls at a leash tied to a stake, trying to break away.  He wants to do more, explore more, venture farther afield. Or so he would have you believe.  Suddenly,the straining and pulling causes the leash to break and the dog is free. Guess what the dog does next?  He grabs the ripped end of the leash, runs back to the stake and ties it securely to the stake.  Then the dog returns to pulling and barking and straining at the leash. Do you know anyone like that dog?  Don’t we all try to return to our comfort zone when change occurs?

Looking for Meaning in the Midst of Change

If your life’s path has taken a rocky turn and left you struggling to make sense of your situation, take comfort in the fact that there are others who have experienced similar life events and who can provide guidance along the way.  Everyone handles difficulties differently but the one universal factor that I find in those who are resilient to change and tragedy is that they find meaning in the midst of the pain.  When  I found myself drowning in the midst of numerous family difficulties in recent years, an insightful friend said to me, “Maybe this happened to free you to do something different with your life that would be meaningful in a bigger way.”  At the time, I felt misunderstood but after some thinking about my situation, I knew she was right.  I was still sacrificing my time and energy to a family that had outgrown  that type of relationship.  It took a major upheaval to restructure my thinking.  It was time for a new, more mature approach that allowed me to develop interests and talents outside the family group.  My life had taken an unexpected detour and I could either fight the changes and try desperately to return to the past, or I could look for the opportunity in the midst of change.  I could enjoy the new roadway and look for new vistas.

Asking the Right Question

When faced with unexpected change, tragedy even, most of us tend to ask the question, “Why me?”  “Why did this have to happen?”  What if there is another more important question that we need to ask in order to discover the answer to the first question?  What if we need to ask ourselves, “What’s the opportunity in this?”  Sometimes in the midst of discovering the answer to the last question we learn the answer to the first one.

Finding the Support You Need

There’s one other important thing we must do to cope with the stress of change and that is to find support.  Support can come in a number of different ways.  It might be a close friend or a family member.  It might be someone that has traveled the path before you and who now seeks to encourage others.  It might be a group or an individual.  It could be a professional counselor or mentor.  In any case, the hardest part of any stressful time is the feeling of being alone.  Find someone to support you and you will greatly improve the situation.

When we are no longer able to change a situation- we are challenged to change ourselves.  Vicktor  E. Frankl

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One Word and Vision Boards

Cathysaravision lizbeckyvision visionboard meellenvision

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the last two years, I have chosen a word in January to give me focus for the year.  This is in addition to setting goals.  Choosing the word takes a bit of thought.  I want it to stretch me and ground me at the same time.  I want it to encourage and inspire.  Last year my word was JOY and this year, as I moved into retirement from my school counseling job of twenty years and into entrepreneurship, I chose, ADVENTURE. I have a group of women that I meet with on Thursday nights and I encouraged them to all choose a word as well.  In our recent meeting, I felt it was a good time to revisit our words and talk about how we are using the words in our lives.

While we discussed our word and what it had meant to us so far in our year, we created vision boards.  This is a great way to create focus around a central theme.  Here are some directions for how to create vision boards.

Supplies for a Vision Board

Creating a vision board is very simple.  You will need the following supplies:

  • Poster board or cardboard–any size is fine but think about what you want to do with the board to help you decide.  Sometimes a small board that you can take with you when you travel is a good  idea.  Or maybe you want a larger board to focus on each morning or even to  hang on a wall in your house.
  • Lots of magazines–you can ask co-workers, friends, or even medical offices for their cast-offs
  • Rubber cement or glue
  • Markers, crayons, colored pencils
  • Fun stuff–glitter, feathers etc
  • Music to create by…

How to Create a Vision Board

Once you have the materials you are ready to go!  You can create the board alone in your home or get together with friends. Here’s the process:

  1. Peruse the magazines and tear out the pictures and words/phrases that catch your eye.  Make a stack.
  2. Sort the items you selected and arrange the ones you like on the board.
  3. Glue them down in the pattern/collage that you have created.
  4. Add any decorative items that you wish–using gel pens, glitter, feathers etc to finish your board.

Types of Vision Boards

You can create a board around a theme, a word, a goal or multiple goals.  You can use pictures, quotes, even photographs. There are no rules for vision boards.  Here are the basic vision boards that you could consider:

  1. A board that centers around a certain goal.  I have a board that is centered around the goal of writing and publishing for instance.  You might have a goal around getting a new job or losing weight.
  2. A board that is more general and open to possibilities.  This might be a board that gives a certain feeling or atmosphere such as serenity or adventure.
  3. A board that is created around a certain theme or even one word that will inspire you for a period of time.
  4. A transition board.  This might be the board you would make as you move into retirement, or motherhood or college or a first job.

How to Use the Vision Board

  1. Put it in a prominent place.
  2. Focus on the board on a regular basis.  Incorporate it into your daily review of goals and action steps.
  3. Add to the board as you feel inclined.

I have used this activity in various workshops and training classes and it is always a hit!  Have you ever made a vision board?  How have you used it?

 

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My Life is an Empty Shell-Finding Your Calling

Stories only happen to people who can tell them.  Lou W. Stanek, author, critic and teacher

Last winter was a pretty rough year for Atlantans weather-wise.  Unless you live in a cave, you probably heard about Atlanta’s Snow-pocalypse 2014. Motorists were stranded in cars for hours while others were stranded at the office. Students were stranded on school buses or at schools overnight.  Even today in the summer’s 90+ heat, if you say to someone, “Where were you during the Snow-pocalypse?” you will trigger memories.  Everyone has a story to tell.  I was talking with someone recently about how they survived the disaster.  The worst part for her was being stranded at home. She lives alone and has no children or family in the area. She told me. “I was bored to tears with being stuck at home for three days.  My life’s an empty shell and I didn’t know what to do with myself.”  An empty shell? How sad that someone feels so empty that being snowed in for three days,  meant she almost went crazy.

 

Finding Your Calling

I believe that we all have a calling, a mission that we have been uniquely gifted for.  We’ve been given talents and abilities that complement that mission.  So often people let life happen rather than making it happen. They meander from day to day, without goals or a clear direction.  When disaster or tragedy strikes, they have few resources for coping with it.  Something as small as being stuck at home with no one but yourself for company becomes a major ordeal. I understand this mindset. My early years were spent wishing, waiting and wondering if I’d be able to accomplish my dreams. I thought that the stars had to align, the universe had to be generous and the right people had to wander into my life. I gave away my power to anyone and everyone.  My life was at the mercy of my circumstances rather than me looking for the opportunity in the circumstances.  I didn’t set goals and I certainly didn’t create an action plan to make my dreams reality. I had an exhaustive to-do-list and I was very busy but without any clear direction. I said yes to anything and everything without evaluating whether or not it fit in with my purpose.  Living life intentionally has changed my focus and my life.

 

Living Life Intentionally

How do you live your life so that instead of thinking of it as an empty shell, you experience life as full and abundant?  It first takes a change in your mindset.  Rather than looking at life as something that happens to you, you begin to see life as something you create.  Much like a writer writes a story or a film-maker creates a film, your job is to determine the plot, the direction of the story arc of your life.  Of course you can’t control everything.  I understand that.  But you can control your reaction.  You can control what you do with the events that occur.  You can begin to look for the possibilities in everything.  Even when there are no impending changes, you can remain open to the possibilities that are all around.  Sometimes you even create change!

A great book that addresses this style of living and our tendency to cling to status quo is Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson, M.D.  There are two approaches to life in this book.  Hem and Haw enjoy the comfort of the status quo without ever anticipating or preparing for change.  Sniff and Scurry enjoy the present abundance but also plan for the future and notice the evidence of the changes that are coming.  They explore the world around themselves.  They discover new experiences that are even better than the past.  They anticipate and find abundance rather than scarcity. What character do you identify with?  Hem and  Haw or Sniff and Scurry?  Are you waiting for good things to appear in your life or are you out looking for them and making them happen?

Living A Balanced Life

When we fail to be intentional about where we are going in life, one of the consequences is often a life out of balance.  Generally, this means that we invest too much time and energy in one area and neglect other equally important areas.  For instance, we may invest in our work and neglect family or friends or our spiritual growth.  We may invest in our family, but never set aside time for our own personal lives.  Lives are never perfectly balanced and there are certainly particular seasons of our lives that call for some sacrifices in one area or another.  However, if we consistently starve one area  of our life of time, attention or energy, then we will one day discover that we have created a situation that may be hard to restore.

What about you?  Are you creating and telling the story of your life?  Are you living an intentional and balanced life?  Take the Thirty Day Challenge and let’s create a story worth telling!

 

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Eliminate Three Things to Increase Your Energy

 

beebalmI am a gardener at heart and have always loved a garden of any kind.  I love flower gardens and vegetable gardens. I love structured, everything-in-it’s-place gardens. I love gardens that are lush and wild and out of control.

Some of my best memories as a child are of following my grandmother out to the garden and helping her pick vegetables for dinner.  Corn on the cob that we would shuck right out in the field.  Scrumptious, juicy cantaloupes and green beans to sit on the porch and snap into a big pot for cooking.  I used to love eating dinner at her house with all those fresh vegetables and warm flaky biscuits.

I’m a learn-as-you-go and do-what-seems-like-the-right-thing  kind of a gardener.  This means that I don’t really read up much on HOW to garden so much as I just try it out and see how it works. Here’s an example of what I mean: for years I didn’t even know what dead-heading was much less that it was a necessary part of gardening. If anything, I thought it had something to do with The Grateful Dead rather than gardening.  I’ve since learned that it’s important to trim dead flowers off plants so that they can put their energy into producing new ones.  Not only does it make the plant look better, it ensures new growth.

Dead heading is an important concept for life as well as gardening. I’ve been taking a hard look at what I’m doing that is productive and worthwhile and what I’m doing out of habit that takes my energy and does not produce results.  Do you have things like that in your life?  This means that I am eliminating old things and making way for new. Just like in gardening, I’m trying out new ventures and doing what seems like the right thing.  Here’s some ways that I am applying the concept of dead-heading to my life

Eliminate Unnecessary Possessions

I’m on a mission to simplify the stuff in my life.  After a life time of storing stuff, saving stuff in case I need it later and moving stuff around to make room for more stuff… I’m eliminating stuff.  This means that I am selling it, giving it away or sometimes tossing it in the trash.  All the stuff that you have in your life either takes up space or costs you in time and energy.  And the more you have, the less likely you are to even know where it is when and if you finally decide to use it.

Eliminate Time-wasters

I’m also eliminating time-wasters from my life.  Losing myself to mindlessly scrolling through Facebook or Pinterest posts or surfing television channels for worthless entertainment is gone.  Instead I’m using my time very intentionally by scheduling it.  Does this mean I never relax or have fun?  Of course not but I schedule some time to make sure it happens and then plan it.   I don’t wonder where the time went in my day.  I know because I scheduled it.

Eliminate Mindless Rules

I’ve stopped finishing things that aren’t worth finishing.  In the past, I used to finish a book that I started just because I started it, even if it was boring or I felt I already knew all the concepts.  I used to believe that just because I started a project I had to finish it no matter what.  I’ve given that one up.  My time is too valuable to waste on things that don’t serve a purpose.  It’s okay to leave things undone and unfinished.

What about you?  What do you need to eliminate from your life in order to simplify and focus on the things that matter?  What is the biggest challenge in doing that?

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Is Failure a Necessary Part of Learning?

detourI was talking with a teacher about a student in her classroom whose behavior was out of control one day to the point that she decided he needed a visit to the principal to reinforce the rules. She had to admit that she was amused however at his comment upon arriving at the principal’s door. It seems that under his breath he muttered, “I bet nothing good ever comes out of a visit here…”

Success is a word that is discussed and thrown around a lot.  In schools, teachers are focused on making sure students are successful.  Businesses set  and achieve goals in order to be successful.  We are all interested in learning how to be successful in our careers, in our family life and in our social life.  We can even learn how to  be successful in our spiritual life. There are books, classes and even coaches who chronicle how to be successful.

Failure on the other hand is something to be avoided, isn’t it?  There is lip service given to learning from our mistakes, but do we really accept failure as a necessary part of the path to success?  Do we dash head long into failure or try to skirt around it?  In an article written by Darren Hardy of Success magazine, he writes that some of the best advice he ever got on how to be successful, was to increase his rate of failure.  He was told he should try to fail fast and often.  Does this sound crazy to you?  Does it make you nervous? It does me!

What are the benefits of failure?

  • “I wasn’t failing, I was learning how to succeed.”  This quote from Ted Turner re-frames the experience of failure.  Rather than looking at it as something to avoid, he approaches it as a learning opportunity.  There is much to be gained from failure and not just how to avoid it next time.  Sometimes there is opportunity in failure to begin again using the lessons learned. You can look at an experience as failure… or as research and development.
  • “The key to success is massive failure… whoever can fail the most, the fastest and the biggest, wins.”  Tom Watson of IBM.  How can this be true?  Here is an example:  Recently, when I stopped for gas, there were several sales people offering to spray some magic wax product on cars as a demonstration of it’s amazing ability to clean off all kinds of stuff.  Some of the sales people were standing around looking uncomfortable, but the one that approached me knew what he was doing.  He wasn’t pushy just helpful. He identified things on my car that needed cleaning and showed the benefits. He showed off the product. He made a sale.  When you are selling, the more chances you take at failure, (in this case approaching people who may say no), the more chances you have that you will find the people who want to say yes.  How many no’s does it take to  get to a yes? An average of seven, I’ve heard. If you approach failure as a necessary experience to get through to get to yes, it becomes something you want to seek out frequently.
  •  “The increase in volume, speed and size of my failure also increased the volume, speed and size of my success.”  Darren Hardy, publisher and founding editor of Success magazine.  What if you set a goal for yourself, not of how many times you could succeed but of how many times you could fail?  What if the magic wax salesman set a goal of…. maybe 25 no’s in a day, or in a couple of hours?  What if he met his goal?  Don’t you imagine that he would have also been the most successful of the sales team that day?  Those other sales people who were standing around waiting for things to happen didn’t hear any no’s… they also didn’t hear any yeses.  He would have taken the most risks but he would have also reaped the most benefits.  He would have heard, “No thanks” the most but I bet he would also have heard “OK, I’ll buy that”  the most too.  In the process, he would also have learned a lot about the best approaches to use and practiced them the most frequently.

Failure.  A word and experience that most of us avoid.  But contrary to  popular belief, failure isn’t the end of the road, just the beginning of a new path.  Failure isn’t just useful.  It isn’t just a great opportunity to learn.  It is often a necessary part of success.  In many cases, where there is no failure, there is no success.

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Top Ten Ways NOT to Follow Your Passion

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There’s a lot of talk about discovering your gifts, and finding your passion these days. This week I attended a networking meeting and talked with a great group of women who have not only found their passion but are actively following it. I met Ann Casey who just finished a mystery novel and is all set to launch it.  I met Osa  Marten who owns a driving school. She has just started blogging and is so excited about the results.  I met  Laury Beesley founder of Widows GPS Inc.  She lost her dad at sixteen and then her husband passed away seven years ago.  She’s created the kind of support for others that got her through. It was inspiring just talking to everyone.

Are You Following Your Passion?

I also talk with a lot of people who complain about not following their dream.  Most of them are waiting for something to happen so they can really start living. I hear a lot of  ‘if onlys’ or ‘somedays’.  Here are the top ten ways guaranteed to make sure you don’t wind up in the energetic networking group that I just mentioned:

Top Ten Ways NOT to Follow Your Passion

  1. Decide you don’t really have one.  You must have been napping when God was passing out the talents and gifts.
  2. Decide you don’t have the money or resources.
  3. Decide you don’t have the time… maybe someday when you win the lottery or retire or the kids are grown.
  4. Decide your circumstances have to be perfect before you move ahead and of course you aren’t any where close to that.
  5. Decide the critics who discourage you must be right and put more faith in them than in yourself.
  6. Decide to give in to your fatal flaw: depression, poor health, attention deficit disorder, dyslexia– we’ve all got one.
  7. Decide the one half-hearted try that failed was surely a sign that you weren’t meant to succeed and give up.
  8. Decide the past ten+ years you’ve put into researching your passion aren’t quite enough yet to pull the trigger and go for it.
  9. Decide you’re too old to go for it now.  Maybe if you’d started when you were younger.
  10. Decide you’re too young to go for it now.  Maybe when you’re older and more experienced.

Have I left anything out?  How am I so familiar with all this excuses?  I’ve used them all at one time or another.  At one point in a mastermind group that I was a part of, I voiced my concern that following my passion was going to take a long time and I was already into middle age.  What if it didn’t work out?  Wouldn’t I have wasted my time?  Know what my brilliant coach said? “You’re going to be doing something for the next several years anyway, right?  Why not follow your dream?”

So what about you?  Which excuse are you using?  You’re going to be doing something for the next several years anyway, right?  Why not follow your dream?

Want to a guide to help you discover your passion and start the journey?  Check out my coaching packages:  Coaching for Success

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