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Archive for the ‘Failure’ Category

I returned from San Diego, where I attended Money & You, late last night.  Several people have asked me if “I had fun”?  That’s not exactly the right question.  While yes, there were times when we were having fun, there were many more times when we were stretched, perturbed, moved, and running through the entire gamut of emotions.  The right question is “what did you get out of it?” And the answer is too long to put in one post.

The M&Y methodology is not about lectures.  Participants are run through a series of games and debriefing where the learning comes from their experience coupled with some strategic lessons.  It’s a total learning environment which accelerates learning by “appealing” to the right and left sides of the brain at the same time.  [What would the world be like if that’s how our children were taught in school?  While you’re contemplating that, it’s the reason that many home-schooled children excel, because for many that’s the environment instinctively created by their parents.]

One of the ways we learned was by trying and failing….and then trying and failing again, until we got it right.   ————>   Failure = Learning   <————  Of course, we already knew that didn’t we. 😉  https://glimmers.wordpress.com/2007/11/20/commit-to-failure/

Many (most) of the lessons learned at M&Y are based on the principles of Buckminster Fuller.  I know some of what Bucky (as he is affectionately known) taught, but these last few days were like walking through a portal into another world, and have added yet another layer to what I hope to read and learn this year.  And share with you, as I will also in the ensuing days, share some of my take-aways from the most interesting experience that was Money & You.

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I find myself saying one thing over and over to people:  “don’t beat yourself up.”  Why is is that people are so determined to blame themselves for every little perceived failing?  We beat ourselves up when we deviate from our diet, forget to call someone, or don’t do something perfectly.

It’s counterproductive.  When you lay blame at your own doorstep, it’s de-motivating.  It’s what causes dieters to self-sabotage and end their healthy eating just because they had a donut, or a bad day.  It makes people stop pursuing a goal, just because they didn’t get it right the first time.  It leads to stress, unhappiness and a pandemic of low self-esteem.

So I am asking you, right now, to stop doing it.  Stop beating yourself up.

The very next time you find yourself in blame mode, stop and notice that’s what you’re doing.  Notice the voice speaking to you.  Is it your voice?  A voice from the past telling you you’re no good?  Recognize that whatever voice is it, it’s just not true.  It’s an old tape playing in your head, and you are due for a new one.

Instead of bemoaning that donut you shouldn’t have had, and chastising yourself for not having self-control, recognize how many GOOD choices you have made and congratulate yourself for that.  The one donut or the day of making less than stellar choices were a choice you made, and now you can start where you are and move forward making good choices.  And take the opportunity to learn what you need to do differently the next time.

Learn to accept yourself as you are.  If you begin by loving yourself exactly as you are this moment, you can move forward from there to achieiving the vision you set for yourself.  And when you hear that voice starting to berate you, recognize it as a voice from the past that no longer serves you, and tell it to “hush up.”

One of the things that can help is keeping an acknowledgement journal.  Each day, write down 3-5 things you appreciated about yourself today.  Some days it may be harder to come up with them, but even if you have to write “I got out of bed this morning when I didn’t want to” three times, do it.  Acknowledge yourself for actions, feelings, new thought patterns, breaking habits, good choices, everything you can think of.  If you don’t want to keep a journal, acknowledge yourself out loud instead. Tell yourself what a good job you just did, how nice you were to that colleague, or what a great choice you just made.  Keep doing it so it becomes a habit.

Stop living in the past.  Often, the self-blame relates to past mistakes…divorce, job issues, relationship issues.  Recognize that the past is over.  You can’t continue to dwell there.  Learn from the past, and forgive yourself.  Learn from little children…they make mistakes, fall down, pick themselves up and try again.  That’s how they learn.  They don’t blame themselves for not being perfect.

So the very next time you begin to slip, stop.  Tell yourself that you did the best you could under the circumstances (whatever they were) and decide to do better.  You are human. You’re not perfect.  You will do better the next time. And that’s exactly the way it should be.

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Fear is paralyzing.  Not just genuine, “fear for your life” kind of fear.  But the every day fears like “I can’t dance, everyone is watching” fears.  In working with clients, and in observing myself and others, I see fear of looking stupid, fear of failing, fear of people not thinking I’m smart, fear of rejection…all among the major reasons not to do things.

When I thought about undertaking this quest, among the first emotions I had was fear.  What would people think?  They’d know I’m not perfect.  What if I didn’t change at all? What if I didn’t get what I was learning?  All perfect examples of
F- alse
E-vidence
A-ppearing
R-eal

Of course there are real reasons for FEAR, healthy ones that keep us out of dangerous situations (when we pay attention.)  But most often our fears are just huge boulders getting in our way of doing what we want to do.

I read something astonishing. It seems that the top two things people fear are the threat of pain or death, and the fear of social rejection. We’re all so busy trying to have people like us that we tip toe around, rather than embracing life and the pursuit of happiness with gusto.  We do the right thing, say the right thing, wear the right thing…rather than being true to ourselves.  (Caveat for my husband…I am not saying you should do anything, say anything and, especially, wear anything!)

So I’ve decided to be fearless.  No, I am not rushing out to go skydiving or bungee jumping.  It means I’ve decided to stop worrying if I’m getting it right all the time.  Instead I’m going to be REAL

R-eally
E-mbracing
A-ll
L-ife

Join me?

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On the Thinksimplenow blog there’s a post on the 7 Habits of Highly Innovative People, and one of the habits includes:

‘Commit to Failure’ – “Commit yourself to taking enough risks that you will fail some of the time. If you’re not failing, we’re not doing something sufficiently difficult or creative.” -Scott Berkun

Coincidentally, on a call today we were discussing failure and how it’s a given that to succeed you have to feel free to fail.  It occurred to me that we need to reframe failure as trial and error in the manner of children.  If you have ever watched a child learn something new, they revel in trying, failing, and trying again until they succeed. 

Now this is not a new concept, but it did get me to thinking.  How would I approach things differently if I set out to fail?  What if I decide to fail ten times before I succeed at something.  I would certainly try things in different (dare I say wacky?) ways.  If I wanted to write an article about New Year’s Resolutions (and I usually do) I might try writing it as a poem, or humorously, or graphically or in any number of ways other than my normal prose.  If I was creating a website or putting together a workshop, I would certainly take more risks and try things differently.

I’m going to play with failure and risk/trial and error in the next month.  Should be interesting to see what happens.  And if you’re game, come think differently with me.

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