On the Necessity of Failure

February 28, 2010

           

Half of the failures in life come from pulling one’s horse when he is leaping.” Thomas Hood

“Failure,” if understood and appreciated, is a critical step in the growth process. It allows us to hone our skills, test our assumptions and find our true paths. Not understanding the benefits of failure can lead to a life filled with lost opportunities. 

Here is my concern: The current market can present more rejection than some of us are used to. When failure becomes something you strive to avoid at all costs, it can actually attract more failure. Fear of failure can keep us from taking risks, force us to play it safe or not get into the game at all. Or, after taking the leap, it can cause us to pull our horse in mid-air.    

Embrace failure as a necessary step on life’s path. Plow forward, test your limits, act in the face of fear—grow.

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The Good, the Bad and the Who Knows?

February 18, 2010

 There is an ancient parable that demonstrates the folly of judging any circumstance as good or bad – I’ll paraphrase:  

A man had two great treasures in his life: his son and his stallion. They both brought him great happiness. The man woke one morning to find that his stallion had run off. With half of his treasure gone, he fell into a deep despair. Later that day the horse came back and brought along with him a beautiful wild mare. The man was elated. The next day his son tried to ride the new mare but was thrown and broke his leg. The man was again distraught. Shortly thereafter, a war broke out and the soldiers came to the village to conscript young men into the army. All were taken but his son who could not go because of his broken leg. The man was overjoyed. The story goes on and on and on.

 This is a very valuable parable – good to remember the next time an escrow falls apart, you get a flat tire or your husband runs away with your best friend’s… daughter (I’ve been watching too many soap operas). 

 Every new event changes the course of our lives. Who are we to know if the new course is an improvement or not. The person with the flat tire might judge it as bad, get angry, curse the car and the fact that they will be late for work and miss an important meeting. But perhaps without the flat they would have left for work on time and been in just the right spot to be involved in a terrible accident.

 We never know where the path not taken would have led us.

So, how can we judge it better than the one we are on?

 We can, of course, but… remember the parable the next time you feel a judgment coming on. It might reduce the amount of time you spend in regret. Well worth the effort I think.


Change your Mind and you Change the World

February 12, 2010

“You are what your deep, driving desire is.
As your desire is, so is your will.
As your will is, so is your deed.
As your deed is, so is your destiny.”
Brihadaranyaka Upanishad IV 4.5

 

Would you like to re-live 2009?

If the answer is no, read on.

 

If you were one of millions of people struggling to make ends meet in 2009, you probably spent a great deal of time focusing on your problems and searching for solutions. Worrying about your income, your rising credit card balances, your credit rating or even whether you would be able to retain your home can become habitual. This can be a problem. 

Because “You are what you think about all day long,” (Emerson) there is a danger that, if you continue to think about past problems, they will become the building blocks of your future. It can be a difficult transition, I know, but… to create success in 2010 you must become successful now… today. Let me say that another way…

 You can’t wait for something good to happen

and then feel good about yourself.

You must feel good about yourself

and then make good things happen.

 Well, you don’t have to. But, either you control your life or life controls you. A matter of choice. Skeptics never see how they can feel good when everything around them is swirling down the drain. I know two very effective methods:

 1. NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) teaches us to “anchor” our feelings to a moment in the past when we felt great about life, about ourselves. Imagine your self back at that moment, recreate the positive feelings and then carry those emotions into the present.

The method I use most often is to imagine my own positive future. This has to be approached in two directions. First, whenever I find myself ruminating about past problems, I stop myself. Second, I focus my attention a very specific image of the future that I have created in my mind.

 Either of these techniques can be very effective. The mind is a wonderfully powerful tool. It will give you whatever you desire. The problem is that it thinks you desire those things you choose to think about.

Change your thoughts and you change your world.