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Showing posts with label failure. Show all posts
Showing posts with label failure. Show all posts

Friday, June 26, 2020

How To Give Up Power Gracefully: Accepting the Possibility of Failure

Recently with the Coronavirus Pandemic raging, I had custody of my daughter for about five weeks.  My daughter was just finishing spring break when her school was shut down for Covid-19.   I had/have been working from home since that time myself.  Until recently her mom wasn't able to do so.  So, she wasn't in a position to do anything except call her during the day to make sure she was on track.  Beyond that her mom works at a hospital, so there was initial fear that her mom could get the virus at work and spread it to my daughter.   After about 4 weeks of work full-time/homeschool, I was getting stressed out.  At that point, her mom asked wanted to switch custody.  This would give me a break from working full-time/quasi home-schooling my daughter.  Obviously, giving my daughter a chance to see her mom and vice versa was a big part of the equation.  However, I paused for a moment and was silently screaming, but I can't give her up now, we are just getting untracked with her e-learning.  I knew that wasn't the answer I needed to say.  So, I said let's work on a transition.

I felt like over the previous weeks, that we had a system in place that could potentially maximize her productivity.  Also, I knew I could help her in some areas which my background is very strong.   For example, math is a very strong point of mine.  Mostly, I felt like I had a beat on her productivity.  I was afraid that she would lose the momentum that she gained with me.  In short, I was concerned I was afraid of losing control.  My intentions were noble.  I wanted her to do well with e-learning and I didn't want her to lose momentum or ready access to my help.   My heart was saying 'no', but my mind was saying, 'you really should transition her'.  

In my brief flirt with control on the issue (and the lingering feelings), I verified a few things I knew and learned a few more about power and control. So, what did I "learn or relearn" about power, control and human nature.

Power/Control Observations.
-----------------------------------
  • It is often driven by fear--a fear that you are the only one who can do 'what needs to be done' properly.
    • Your assessment may not be accurate.  Often times there is more than one good solution to a problem.
    • Your assessment and actions may discourage others from trying to help.  Why fight someone who thinks they act as if they are the only one who can do something right?
  • Uncertainty or inability to 'read' others whom you would be yielding control to.   It sometimes doesn't matter if others have shown the capability of being responsible, just the chance that it might not be done right, is enough to 'not risk it'.
    • When I'm driving, I know what my intentions and what my capabilities are.   When you are driving, I can't tell if you are aware of 'how close you are' to the person in front of  or if 'know you need to get over'  So, I might harp on you about your driving even when you know you have it under control.
    • When I'm driving, I know where I am going and I know the route to get there.  If you have told me where it is and aren't sure if I know, you might to try to back seat drive.  The fact is, I might actually have a good idea how to get there and haven't really said anything or asked because I knew how to get there.  But your uncertainty might cause you to feel like you need to 'control' the situation and "make sure" I know.
  • The goal can be or seem noble or selfless.  
    • I just want to make sure it all turns out for the best, especially if I'm very experienced at it.
    • I'm looking out for 'your' best interest and I'm am willing to help or do the heavy lifting.
  • The impact however can be negative.
    • It can discourage the other person from even trying.  If you feel like another is micromanaging you and always taking charge on their schedule, it feels like too much trouble to fight assert your role or try.
    • It can remove the opportunity for the other person to learn from trial and error.
    • It can remove the opportunity for a solution that is just as good or better to be discovered.

In my story, in my mind, 
  • I was afraid of my daughter losing her progress or momentum.
  • I was afraid of letting another be in charge of the seeing to it that she got her homework done or the help she needed.
  • I assumed that my way 'would work indefinitely' and not have it's own drawbacks.  
    • Such as me getting burned out or her resisting my pressure/steps to keep her on track.
    • Such as she needed not seeing her mom and pets on her mom's side would have no ill effects even if it was just for a few more weeks. 
  • I assumed that no one else could find a similarly effective path towards making sure she was on track.
  • I had the hubris to think to for a moment to assert that it was MY role as opposed to a shared role.  Even if what I felt was true that I might have a little bit more effective way of keeping her on task, I had to accept that the need to exchange custody was greater.

In a matter of moments, I had given up 'control' of keeping her on track (and keeping custody).  At first, because I knew I had no right to ask to keep custody so I could oversee her e-learning I acceded quickly to her mom's suggestion.  However, I came to realize soon thereafter that it was, for me, a control issue.  I hated give up custody.  Also, I was nervous that her e-learning momentum could be lost, but I realize that I had to accept the possibility that my daughter would 'fail' at keeping up her e-learning momentum.  I realize a number of years ago that "I can't fix everyone", nor should I try.  Similarly, I had to accept the fact that I couldn't guarantee what I deemed a 'successful' outcome.  To not understand otherwise would be not to understand the idea of letting go of trying to 'control'.  I had to let go and let God.    I was sad to be giving her up a few days later and I was a little nervous, but I knew in my heart that I was accepting the role that laid out rather than trying to be a control freak.

Just some thoughts,
Rich 


Thursday, April 23, 2020

A negative tends to have a greater impact than a positive.


As Mark Twain was purported to have said, “A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.”  Obviously, what he meant was that it is easier to spread a falsehood than to correct it.   I also realized when in was in my first year of college that failure is easier than success and spoke about this concept in The Fine Line: Failure takes no effort, success takes a lot of work .  Most of the time you don't have to do anything to fail.  In fact, I believe that it is doing nothing that will inevitably usually lead to failure.   In more recent years, it has occurred to me that a negative generally has greater impact than a positive.  As a matter of fact, the concepts here actually go hand in hand.   Just as failure is easier than success, a negative tends to be the default or more pervasive state than a positive.


But, think about.  When studying history what do we put more of our energy on?  When we have both good and bad interactions with people, what do we tend to focus more on?  If we have an otherwise good driving record marred by a life-changing accident, what will we and others focus on?   When we have a good work record marred by a very bad screw-up or marred by an unfortunate interaction--especially if we are dismissed as a result--will we feel like a success?  When we have an uneventful or clean deployment that ends with a trauma, what will we be tend to focus on?


I've had some successes in life, but in my later 40s and 50s, I have worked through and processes a lot as a childhood sexual abuse survivor.   The successes have helped me keep perspective BUT they did not completely erase the impact of CSA.  This all leads to the questions:  Why does the negative in many (or I dare so most) cases have a greater impact than the positive?  I'm going to consider that here:


Impact of Negatives vs. Positives

  • I think the positives, though we appreciate them, we can take them for granted and not realize their goodness or importance.  Negatives on the other hand I think are harder to dismiss as 'these things just happen sometimes'.  I think we tend to look for a reason or why.
  • I think often the consequences of a negative just is more devastating than a positive.  
    • I understand a common exercise to teach teens the difficulty and challenges of raising a baby utilizes an egg as the baby. 
    • The goal is to take the 'baby' wherever you go without 'breaking it'.
    • No matter how many times or days you've handled the egg, if you drop it once on any kind of hard surface, it will break.  Similarly a baby can easily be injured if you drop him or her once.
  • I believe we may savor the good or positive times and relive them, but they will tend to become a distance memory. Their impact can fade over time and we won't usually tend to second-guess them.  Bad or negative times, if bad enough, can come to the forefront.  From my experience, if they are not resolved, can come to the forefront very quickly.  Bad times are a lot more likely to lead to second guessing.  That is, how could we have made that choice, said those words, done that thing, etc.
  • I believe we tend to view 'negatives' as a moral failure.  Meaning we have a harder time 'forgiving ourselves'.  I think this is especially true if the weak or more challenged our faith is.  The positives we take pride in but we are taught not to gloat too much about them or take too much credit for them.



So believing that negatives tend to have a greater impact, what do we do to mitigate against that?  I don't have all the answers, but I do have some ideas.



Mitigation Strategies (Against the Oversized Influence of Negatives) 

  • Make reminders of success prominent in your life.  Not to gloat on them or to show or develop arrogance, but as a reminder to yourself when the bad times or negatives hit that your life has balance.  Meaning that as much of a particular failure or negative hurts, it is not who you are.
  • Remember who your Higher Power sees you as.  Yes, it hurts if the world or you in particular sees a negative or failure in your life, but how does your Higher Power view you?  For myself, I've been taught that we are made in God's image and 'God doesn't make junk'.
  • Surround yourself with those tend to be uplifting for you.  That's not to say surround yourself with yes men, but those who will be more willing see you in a positive light than a negative.   In other words, while you don't want those who would 'Blow smoke up your *ss', you also don't want those who would "Rain on your parade' either.
  • Learn to view negatives or failures as blessing in disguise where possible.  If not that, then at least learn to view them as a learning experience or point along the journey.



Few people can completely shut the negatives in their life and I believe it is human nature to focus on the negatives over the positives.  However, that doesn't have to be a place 'where we live' but instead maybe a place we visit from time to time or a reminder of what to avoid.



Anyway, that's my thoughts for the day or my story and I'm sticking to it.



-- Rich

Saturday, June 1, 2019

The reflection across the pond: Hello from the Other Side

You know sometimes, you are just minding your own business going along with your life and you hear something which you may or may not have heard before and it hits you like a ton of bricks.   I've heard the song Hello by Adele before.  I knew it was powerful the first time I heard it. I knew she was saying something profound and there was regret imbued in it.   But, I heard it again on a calm and extended drive home from work.  There was no trying to rush into work, no trying to beat traffic, nothing hanging over my head from work or the like.  In other words, I had a pretty clear mind at that point.

So, I hear her song and it seems to be about a relationship and regret.   I've read where she indicate that was it was about being on the other side of childhood including regret about missing things from earlier in her life.   But, as I was listening to it, I realized that it really can apply to numerous circumstances or situations.  Dennis DeYoung had a falling out with Styx and he no longer is part of the group, yet I've heard him express time and time again wanting to be part of the mix with them.  He's had a good life overall so far and has had a good marriage, but there seems to be something missing.  For fans of Styx, it really is a tragedy as the band is so much more complete with him.   I can imagine current day Dennis DeYoung talking to his younger self, telling himself to back off and later his bandmates from the future expressing what he'd learned from over time.  I kind of reflected on the situation in Heartache: Wanting the one thing you can't have.

From my life, the lives of others around me and having a front row to society here is a list of those who you can say "Hello from the Other Side" to (not in any particular order)

Hello to
- Your childhood and yourself
- Your friends
- Your family of origin
- Your exes, significant other
- Your children
- Your Higher Power
- Your strangers
- Your teammates
- Your neighbors/community/society


HELLO TO:
  • Your Higher Power
    • You didn't trust your Higher Power when the opportunities was presented and obvious.
    • You didn't listen to your Higher Power when you were being 'spoken' too.
    • You didn't value your Higher Power's role in your life. 
    • You blamed your Higher Power instead of understanding that your Higher Power is not there to save you from every possible bad outcome or circumstance.
    • You treated your Higher Power as if your Higher Power's purpose was to serve you rather than to guide as deemed best.
    • You may have cared about your Higher Power, but didn't necessarily love or showed that you did.
  • Your neighbors/community/society
    • You treated them as if they were there just to serve you rather than you being a contributor.
    • You treated them as if you didn't have to follow the rules or etiquette. That is to say you thought that 'rules are for others'.
    • You didn't accept or appreciate your role in the neighborhood/community/society.
  • Your strangers
    • Kind of like society, but on a more individual level.
    • You were abusive and took advantage of others expecting you wouldn't face consequences or have to interact with them.
    • You didn't extend a hand of kindness or friendship when you could have, but instead looked out for your own needs.
  • Your teammates
    • This could apply to whatever team you are part of (band, sports, etc.)
    • You didn't take your role as part of the team seriously.  You were more interested in how your needs were or weren't being met.
    • You didn't appreciate how your teammates were looking out for you and had your back even when you didn't necessarily 'earn' or 'deserve' it.
    • You weren't there for your team the way or time needed: Especially when they needed you the most.
  • Your childhood and self.
    • You were so critical on yourself. 
    • You judged yourself against a higher standard than you were capable of.  
    • You acknowledged the barriers you faced (at least rhetorically), but your actions showed that you treated them as well you should have been able to hurdle them anyway, no matter how high they were.   You acted like you should have been able to deal with anything and everything as if you had an adult's understanding and maturity.
    • You blamed yourself for things that were beyond your control.   When you were hurt, you blamed yourself for allowing it.  You were imperfect and condemned yourself.
  • Your friends, exes and significant other
    • You took them for granted and didn't value them properly.  You expected them to always be there.  Even sometimes ignoring warning signs.
    • You expected more from them than they were capable of and got upset when they, like you, proved to be human too.
    • You didn't always hold up your end of the relationship and sometimes seemed more concerned about what you could get out of it.
    • You didn't bring them in, when you could have or should have.
  • Your family of origin
    • You weren't always the best brother, sisters, son, daughter, or other 'family' that you could have been.
    • You took others in the family for granted, because honestly, well they would always be family.  In other words, you have to accept me because I'm your family.
    • You were too worried about your own 'needs' and didn't take the time to discover, to embrace, to cherish or to even just be part of your family.
  • Your children
    • You treated them like they were a mistake
    • You treated them is if they were there to be seen only.
    • You treated them as if their needs were not serious as only 'grown up' needs matter.
    • You didn't take the time to get to know them.
    • You treated them as if they were there to reflect well on you and not as if how they felt mattered.
    • You were abusive to them and not understanding.

It can be easy to acknowledge on a surface level failures, mistakes and hurts (to you and from you), but really acknowledging your role can be difficult, especially when you aren't necessarily the only culpable party involved, you've been hurt too and life circumstances have led to distrust of others.  My dad made some mistakes as a person and a parent and found it exceedingly difficult to directly acknowledge them or to open up about himself or give background of any sort.  I know he grew up mostly in foster care, was let down by many, had super strict (possibly to the point of abusive) foster parents, probably was judged vary harshly including by himself and just found it hard to trust others.  I've had my own abuse as spoken about in #MeAsWell: For What It's Worth and in being bullied in my adolescence.  I know having to deal with that helps to make you guarded.  Unfortunately part of being guarded means that you don't always acknowledge your role out of distrust how it could be utilized against you.    

To me her song is about realizing, understanding or accepting how the role you have played in the lives of yourself and others.  It is about being willing to really acknowledge and apologize where appropriate for your role in how things have unfolded.  It is about realizing that ultimately that it shouldn't be about you past acknowledging your role.  It is a clear reflection and expression of remorse, regret and sorrow where appropriate.  Sometimes, frankly regarding the time that we are reflecting back on, we think we are doing the right thing(s) with the right motive(s).  Sometimes, you are acting with the best of intentions too.  Sometimes, in reflection, it is clear that we were wrong and that we couldn't have known.  Sometimes, in reflection, we should have known better.  Sometimes, in reflection, we can honestly say we did no better.

While much of this doesn't necessarily apply to my situation, some of it does.   To that extent, to those who I've ever played a negative role in their life (including myself), I'm sorry and I give a big Hello from the other side, realizing my role, failure or mistake.  I hope someone finds these words as meaningful as I have.

Thanks,
Rich

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Demons, Part 5: Ways to deal with hurt and the failure to outrun it.


A while back, I found out a one-time friend of mine had passed away from an overdose shortly after I fell out of touch with her.   At the time our friendship ended, she had basically tossed aside our friendship essentially stating that [our friendship] wasn't (paraphrasing it) "doing it for me".   Not one to be where I'm not wanted and having my self-respect, I honored her wishes.  In fact, I made a point to shut her out and blocking her access to me.  But, before I did this, I let her know that "I had figured that our friendship had an expiration date on it", before quietly fading away.  Even though we were never more than friends, I did like her a little bit and I was left wondering, what did I do to deserve being 'unfriended'?

Long after this estrangement, I looked at a common friend's page and saw her name in the friend's list on Facebook.  Out of curiosity, I decided to see what my estranged friend was up to.  I observed she had a memorial page and after following up on it, I got the rest of the story.   Even though we were estranged and she'd hurt my feelings, I was sad about it her passing.  She had overdosed within a number of months of our friendship ending.  Knowing that she overdosed shortly after our falling out of touch, helped me to understand that our estrangement was never really due to what I was lacking in the friend department to her.  Instead, it turns out she was a hurt person, struggling with demons.  She was seeking whatever she could to outrun or mask her pain and hurt.  A friendship that wasn't 'fun' enough didn't help her to do this.  It's clear now that neither I nor anyone else could be what she needed.   She needed to come to terms with herself and her pain.

I'd venture to guess most of know or are at least familiar with someone like that, if not having experienced it ourselves.  Someone who has or has had a deep soul level hurt that they tried to avoid facing.   From my experience and knowledge, anyone who has been there realizes that when you are in that place, you can either do one of four things--much of which I have done.  Some ways of dealing with hurt are unproductive and some are destructive.
  • Attempt to outlast it
    • Curling up into a ball, trying to sleep away pain, hurt and/or sadness.
    • 'Sleeping it off' can sometimes actually help if not overdone or abused.  Sometimes a new day can bring a fresh start and allow us to heal enough to deal with it.
  • Attempt to avoid it.
    •  Medicating it. This can take many forms, none of which are necessarily healthy and some of which can be downright deadly.
      • Literal 'medicine' such as drugs or alcohol to hope us cope.
      • Distractions to keep us from facing our hurt
        • Gambling, porn, overeating are 'pleasing' distractions.
        • Cutting and inking can be 'blocking' or masking distractions.  Just like a fire strategically set can burn the 'fuel' to a raging forest fire, a different type of pain can help block the 'hurting pain'.
    • Shutting down mourning.  Sometimes it hurts and makes us feel vulnerable to feel and to risk sharing our hurt.  Sometimes we are told to be brave, to keep a stiff upper lip.  While there is a time to be brave, sometimes when we shut down mourning, we are being just the opposite of brave.   We are avoiding.  Essentially, we are Zig Zagging through life: Diverting our energy from where it is really needed
  • Attempt to outrun it
    • Keeping too busy to have time to focus on it.  
    • Keeping busy I believe is a common way to avoid grieving the loss of a love one.
  • Allow ourselves to feel it.
    • Outwardly mourning and/or inwardly focusing on our hurt can be a distraction to what we need to get done, if it is timed wrong.
    • Finding a time and a place where it is safe to feel and mourn the hurt is imperative.  Allowing too much hurt to build up with no outlet is not a healthy place to be.
--

We all face some disappointment, some hurt--a promise not kept, a friendship lost, but I'm talking about deeper than that.  I'm talking a deep gut punch like a bitter divorce or an unexpected, untimely death, abuse and things of that nature.  This is not to minimize the 'smaller' hurts, but to put things in perspective.   Sometimes too however, enough 'smaller' hurts can build up and be just as debilitating.   But, I digress.  What I'm talking about is a buildup of hurt.  Anyway, as I've gotten deeper into my adulthood, I've come to realize that pain and hurt will not magically disappear and just because you claim you are 'over them' doesn't actually mean you are.   Our soul, and not our hopes, has a way of knowing if we have dealt with hurt.  My estranged friend reminded me.  Anyway, just some thoughts.   Here are a few other posts which I think would go with this one:

See:

Cheers,
Rich


Thursday, November 15, 2018

Mission Accomplished: Declaring victory too soon.

Few people ever want to admit defeat.  People generally want to think  well of themselves (unless they are what I call a negative narcissist), but I digress.  People generally want to think reasonably well about themselves.   Sometimes that means ignoring your flaws and seeing an inflated view of yourself, that is to say you are a narcissist.  History is littered with tyrants who justified their tyranny because they felt they were serving the greater good--Hitler is probably the most well known.  Sometimes that means measuring your flaws against your good points and concluding your good points exceed that of your flaws.  We see that in politics, where people who have used bad judgement in their life or made mistakes survive their negatives and go on to become successful and well thought of.  Sometimes, it means working on your flaws or failings and 'overcoming' them or achieving victory over them.  We see that in the friend who puts down the bottle for good, the parent who does a better job with their second or third kid or the felon that who finds peace in their faith and makes something of themselves once they are out of prison.

The focus of this post is those who know they have difficulties, flaws or failings and see themselves as overcoming or having overcome them.   Sometimes if we tie our worth too much to our 'issues', then we create an incentive to 'declare victory' prematurely.  I believe everyone has examples from their own life or from those close to them.   I will list examples or cases I've seen of been a part of.

Declaring victory too soon
  • In my post, #MeAsWell: For What It's Worth, I detail sexual abuse I faced as a child.  In my mind despite some hiccups, I had successfully made it into adulthood gainfully and successfully employed most of the time.  I had bought a decent house in a good part of town, had a nice car, was married and was well on my way to parenthood.  In other words, the American Dream.  I had convinced myself and the few others around me that knew about it that I had survived and escaped the damage of my childhood, despite the fact that I'd never sought counseling for it.  The signs of 'success' were there, so hey...    Meanwhile, I had a generalized anxiety disorder raging since age 17, I had a problem trusting people--even those close to me--and my behavior didn't always measure up to the standards that my faith would imply.  Anyone who knows me, realizes that eventually like any great fa├žade, eventually the truth has an ugly way of rearing its head.  The truth was that I had never really fully healed from the abuse during my childhood.  The distrust, the anxiety, the flaws eventually came to a head and by 2011, the signs of success had largely been swept away like a sign on the beach during a hurricane.  House, marriage, job, etc. were no more.
  • I had a friend who had a heroine addiction.  I stood by that friend as long as I could.  I saw her 'successfully' complete a stint at a drug treatment center.  I heard her hopefulness that she was done with it.   In short, she was seeking to declare victory.   Supposedly she was clean (at least for a short time)  when she tragically died in an auto accident.  Her life had spiraled out of control and at the very least I think she was very fragile by that point.  That is to say, even if drugs hadn't contributed directly to her accident, indirectly I think she was still reeling.  I'd seen another friend successfully through detox and sobriety for alcoholism, so I thought my friend with the heroine addiction could make it too.  I didn't realize at the time how addictive and deadly heroine is/was and was fooled into being optimistic.
  • I've seen someone I dated push aside anger, grief and other such feelings and claim she was fine and didn't need counseling.  Yet, every time things got rough or she faced adversity she could be seen running to grief and regret that she couldn't help her mom avoid dying young from pneumonia. 

I think for most of us, if we honestly look into our lives, we can find area or two in our lives in which were have 'declared victory' too soon.  That is to say, we are not in as good of a place as we would like to believe we are.  That's not to say that everyone is totally screwed up or has areas in their life which hold them back excessively.  However, I think it is safe to say that most people have misjudged their progress in an area in which they can improve.  I believe sometimes it is easier to 'declare victory' than to do the hard work of self-improvement.   

Just my 1/50th of a $1 for the day.  

Cheers from a snowy day in the Gateway to the West.


Sunday, August 6, 2017

Shame: A place we visit, but an unhealthy place to live.


I was talking to a friend recently who was discussing a personal struggle.  Now, the friend didn't let the struggle get the better of him at that time, but it was close.  So, it occurred to me, the situation was like running on a sidewalk and nearly falling on your face, but putting down your hand to break the fall before your head hit the pavement.  Sure, your hand got roughed up a little and needs some first aid, but you could have very easily fallen on your head and ended up in the ER.

The point was not to minimize to the issue, struggle or near failure, but was to let him know that it could have been much worse and not to dwell on or beat himself up over it.  That is instead appreciate that his Higher Power kept him safe and out of trouble.  In the meantime, he could take the near failure as a warning sign and wake-up call to work on his struggles.

I think, as a people it is easy to operate in black and white thinking.  That is, either to blow failures (or near failures) completely out of proportion OR alternatively blow them off.  I believe God gave us a conscience to be aware of our imperfections and need for Him rather than to be used as a weapon to inflict harm upon ourselves or as a speed-bump to be ignored.

I guess I'd characterize legitimate shame that comes with a healthy conscience as a check and reminder for us to be mindful of our spiritual role in family, society and the world at large, but not as a sledgehammer to destroy ourselves.

To summarize, my take on what my Higher Power (God) has revealed to me and reminded me in this story:

  1. Lean on Him, His wisdom and not my own understanding, I should not take it for granted that I have all the answers or strength.  This includes leaning on Him after I make a mistake. 
  2. I am human and therefore I am bound to struggle from time to time and make mistakes.  Not to condone mistakes, intentional or not, but instead to realize that I am a work in progress.
  3. When I barely avoid a bad choice, mistake or screw-up: I shouldn't pat myself on the back for my ingenuity or 'success', but I shouldn't totally destroy myself either.  I should take it as a learning opportunity and be grateful that my Higher Power was looking out for me.
  4. When I make a bad choice, mistake or screw-up:  I should make amends where necessary and possible and reflect on it with contrition.  I should also seek what led to it and use whatever shame I feel from it not to paralyze me, but to motivate me to do whatever I need to avoid the mistake again and/or to make it right where possible.
Anyway, just my thoughts for the day.  As always, it is sometimes easier to give advice than to follow it, but at least putting it down gives me to opportunity to reflect on it myself.

Yours Truly,


Sunday, November 13, 2016

Failing doesn't make you a failure

I am glad that this election cycle is winding down.  In my 47 years, this election was probably the most hostile/tense election season we as a nation have even witnessed.  As with any elections there were winners and losers.  I think it's pretty clear the 'winners' and the 'losers' in this election cycle and analysis thereof is being repeated ad infinitum.  So, I won't focus on that, but it does lend itself to the following concept:

Failing doesn't make you a failure.  

For anyone who has ever had a significant failure in their life such as:
  • Falling short of being elected.
  • Failure in marriage.
  • Falling of short of winning the big game.
  • Not getting the promotion/losing your job.
  • Failing in school.
  • Broken friendships.
it is hard to separate a particular failure or failing from the overall sense of being a failure.  It is akin to shame vs. guilt.  Shame focuses on self (and has a sense of at least semi-permanence), guilt focus on poor choices (and can be more passing).  Similarly, labeling oneself as a failure, implies feeling broken in a permanent way, whereas noting a failure implies limited--in scope and permanence--damage.

If one is labeled a failure, he or she has effectively had their successes negated or overwhelmed by the label.  If one is said to have failed, it is feasible that their successes before are still respected and that their chance of success after is recognized.

--

It is easy to say tell someone who is in the midst of a particular failure that they aren't a failure, but it can harder for them to accept it.  What they've got to realize is that 
  • Everyone has failings in their life.  After all, if that weren't the case, why would we have the need for a Higher Power (God)?
  • Some of the people we consider 'successful' failed time and again before they hit on their life's success. Successful people who have failed:
    • Henry Ford went broke 5 times before succeeding at Ford Motor Company
    • Bill Gates dropped out of college and failed in his first business (Traf-O-Data) before starting arguably the most successful software company (Microsoft).
    • Oprah Winfrey was born poor to a single teenage mom, was abused as kid and became a teen mom--child died in infancy--before she landed a radio job which ultimately led to her billion dollar production company.
  • Not everyone wins 'the big game/election/promotion', but that doesn't nullify their accomplishments.
    • Ernie Banks never made it to the World Series, but his Hall of Fame induction gives lie to the concept that this made him a failure.
    • Tim Tebow had limited success in the NFL, but no one can take away his Heisman Trophy and National Championship at Florida.  Additionally, he has carved out success in broadcasting.
    • Adlai Stevenson is remembered by many as losing the Presidency to Eisenhower twice, but no one can take away his time as Governor of Illinois, Ambassador to the U.N. and his efforts in making a JFK presidency possible. 
  • That it is okay to visit (mourn) a particular failure/failing, but it is not okay to live there.  Visiting or mourning failure appropriately and moving forward can strengthen us.  Living in failure can be very disabling or debilitating. 
  • Our faith can be a strong guide, however, we are not born with an individual instruction manual.  Our Higher Power and true friend and family in our lives understand that we will at times not make the best choices of ignorance or maybe even hubris.  That doesn't mean that we are stupid or a bad person, it just means we don't always have all the answers.  See my post on the Fog of War and Decisions/Choices.  
--

One final note: We've all heard the term 'narcissist', but I'm convinced of a concept that I call 'negative narcissism'.  The idea being that a negative narcissist finds it easier to live in the concept of being a failure than having a more balanced view of their lives.  If you label yourself as a failure, it makes it easier not to accept responsibility for individual failings.  It also, makes it easier to justify not taking steps to try to succeed.   After all, if you are a failure (or destined to it), then well, you couldn't help it anyway and why bother trying?

Anyway, whether our candidate or team wins or loses, they don't have to be considered a failure.  If a particular endeavour in our life ends in success or failure, we can own a failing, but we don't have to own being a failure.  Just some post election musings.

-- Rich




Saturday, March 7, 2015

The Fine Line: Failure takes no effort, success takes a lot of work


I believe if you have been around long enough and reflected a little, you'll come to realize (at least on some level) that life is full of fine lines.  To wit consider:
  • In sports and competition.  
    • Winning or losing a 100 meter swim or sprint by .01 seconds
    • Fouling back a pitch vs. hitting a home run.
    • Throwing an incomplete pass vs. a touchdown pass.
  • With a change of a word or two, something meant as a compliment can be taken as an insult.
  • With a moment of inattention we could be in a major accident on the highway.  
  • Going out a few minutes earlier or later or signing in a few minutes earlier or later could make the difference between finding a companion who treats us well vs. one who treats us poorly
  • A couple answers on a test can mean the difference between getting a scholarship or not or getting into the school of our choice or not.. 
I don't know when I came to it, but having lived my life without much of a safety net or extras or flash tends to make you realize the fine line between success and failure.  I realized that if I didn't succeed in college that I would never have any type of life as I tend to be less handy with my hands and more handy with my mind.   I realize that if I didn't succeed I would not any help to speak of from family.

As I likely have adult ADD, sometimes learning takes a little more effort.  So, while I am very smart, sometimes I have to really bear down and focus to get the job done.  So, I knew success wouldn't come easy for me.

I have seen people around me fail by making very little if any effort at all, but alternatively have seen people succeed by trying hard.  It has become clear to me that failing is actually very simple, often times it is a matter of doing little or nothing.  Like if you take your hands off the wheel when driving, you will eventually crash vs. getting to your destination.  If you don't look for work you'll stay unemployed.  Etc.   Success on the other hand typically means pushing past when you are tired, pushing past when you are ready to quit, pushing past when you are 'done'.  Success often means reaching for that little extra when you are physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually exhausted.  In other words, it is a fine between giving up and failing and success.

I guess the take away is this:

  • Failure is the eventual default position, but success is the position that takes a lot of planning and/or effort.  That is to say failure is the default state and success is the state that you have to work towards. 
  • The difference between success and failure is often a very small amount.  That is, a fine line.

----

Keep moving forward toward the dream

The difference between failure and success
Is often when you've decided to continue or take a rest

The goal seems too far away
But, if pushing forward you stay

Focused on the prize ahead
Despite all the effort you dread

You will find that as you continue to move forward
Close and closer to you reward

Will you get, until one day you have achieved your dream
Then all the your effort will seem

To fade into the background
But you on the other hand will still be around.