For the month of April, my blog topic was “failure.” How ironic, I failed at writing anything on this topic until now. Everywhere I look, failure has become a badge of honor. “Fail quick and often.” “It’s better to fail at something you love, than not to try at all.” Even – “It’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”
I get failure – a failed audition, a failed class or a failed relationship are all a part of my path. But failure is not a part of my vocabulary. I don’t see the inability to complete a task, a plan and effort in business, as a fail. In mid-stream, ideas flow in another direction. Choices to recover or save a project are the natural way to run a business. Like risk, failure can be planned out.
In the month of April, I haven’t allowed failure to focus me. I have been making plans and taking steps – the topic for May. I can bypass failure by making plans and taking steps in the direction of my goals. That’s all I do and I think I am in a pretty good place. With the help of others – I keep moving ahead.
Recently I had coffee with a new friend. After we got caught up with each other’s lives, events, and opinions, we explored a deeper topic of “what we want.” We agreed there will always be opportunities, functions, Facebook & LinkedIn events in which to network, connect socially, and expand our business or personal interests. What we wanted was to take a break.
Our conversation soon turned to…when is enough, enough? When do I stop searching for the “next thing” and focus on my own work? I can’t continue to balance both work and play equally. At some point, I must stop reading information and produce it as my own. As my friend and I talked about our slipping and sliding around town attending events, I realized I was not only looking for connection with others but a deeper substance with myself. A substance only found when I make time to create, dream and explore my own work.
So, here is the question. What do I Want? What do I want my business to be? What do you Want your life or business or family…to be? The choices made today construct the path to goals achieved and successes. Just wishing I were so-in-so or hoping for a successful business will not make it so. I need to find a better balance of work and play. Coffee dates/cocktail events and teaching people to sing. Friends and new friends will always be waiting to see me. I must make sure I have done the work and achieved the success to talk about it with them. Consistent good work equals a success to talk about.
For months, I have been carrying around this torn out page from an old Oprah magazine. I am drawn to its colors, design and enduring message. This message is for me. And to be honest – the journey is all I have. I can’t guarantee the outcome of any event or relationship, but I can work them out and enjoy myself. I can always end a journey by selling my business or accepting another adventure. I guess the present moment is a lot cooler than I give it credit for.
This month my journey has led me to a few coffee dates with some very interesting and connected people. With each one, I had the privilege of telling my story and being surprised by our similarities. A CEO of a national company, the director of a small theater and the president of a non-profit arts organization all have journies they are excited about. Projects and risk, hopes and expectations that have no guarantee= enjoying the journey. Maybe that is why their lives are so exciting.
I guess I have still been thinking that after all this work, I will plateau and enjoy the ride. But, that isn’t true – AND, I am not allowing myself to enjoy it. James Clear writes, “Your concern is to do the work, not to judge it. Your concern is to fall in love with the process, not to grade the outcome. Keep your eyes on your own paper.” The journey is everything – and if others come along….awesome.
Success is knowing what you should do and doing it. Failure, waiting for someones permission to do it. I’m not saying feedback isn’t important, but getting insight from 10 people may be overkill. On Sunday, our pastor connected the Gospel to the cultural icon of The Hunger Games. This kind of sermon is not my style. As she tried to pull up the 4 note bird call that fans know from the show on her phone, the room fell silent. And then, the 4 tones were whistle from the middle of the sanctuary by a second time visitor, age 16. He did what he knew to do and saved the day in a perfectly timed action.
What are you waiting for? Why don’t you just start writing 400 words per day in an effort to finish that book you know you can write? And why are you putting off the next steps of your great idea. It is only an idea now, but your action and sharing it with 3 others, sets it into motion. You know what you should do…so do it. You are a success.
Recently a friend of mine, an engineer, was given a project at work. She has degrees and years of experience in the field of Engineering and was very curious about why she was given this particular set of tasks. When she spoke to her team lead, he replied by referencing her choice to work part-time and that it was the easiest job he could find to assign her.
Working part-time doesn’t mean a lack of education, time, experience, energy or that you are looking for an “easy” task. My friend chooses to work part time to enjoy a quality parenting schedule with her 4 and 9 year old girls. Her husband also works, making an adequate income to contribute to the support of the family. In fact, my friend’s part time working schedule gives everyone the balance they are looking for.
In this case, is this a success or a set back? An engineering degree, choosing to work part time and time to enjoy life, to me, sounds like a great success. But, being told you need easy work because you won’t work at home in the evenings and full time in the office sounds like a set back. Navigating through the bias of part time work is tricky. Finding the support and understanding from your employers is essential – and a little give and take from both is success. My friend has her yearly review this week. We will see how it goes.
“Give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man.” A Jesuit motto that invokes curiosity. From ages 3-5, I was programmed by Montessori. We met in the basement of a Mormon church with a curvy drive-way. I learned the value of self-motivation, planning and achieving goals at my own pace. I was also given the freedom of self-discovery. No one taught me to tie my shoe, I learned it on my own one Wednesday morning with the help of a tie board. When we gathered as a group, The 3 teachers taught us french and the process of choosing a president, (I voted for Carter that year).
Early childhood development is like the creation of our human operating system. It guides our adolescents and adult relationships. We use it to be courageous and make life changing decisions. If the operating system was constructed in a harmful or incomplete way, we may not know it until our “fixing” as adults doesn’t work. Salim Ismail, an entrepreneur and strategists, suggests that when this is the case, we must reconfigure our operating systems as a way to adjust our adult lives. Not just override – but reroute.
For me, a lot of how I process and achieve success comes from my Montessori years. Some people may believe that is unfortunate. But to this day, I hold a warm place in my heart for this Italian style of teaching and I happen to believe I am free.
Success! Is it planned, tracked and achieved? Or is it luck? According to Success for Teens, a free publication from Success Magazine, only you can define what success means, no one can do it for you. Which also means that no one can really place their desires and dreams on you and expect you to achieve them. So what does it mean when we do things “for” other people?
I am a committed follower of Top Chef and I often hear competitors say they are competing for their families or their moms. That kind of statement doesn’t connect with me. It isn’t that I am heartless and wouldn’t consider dedicating my efforts to someone, but doing something with such weight and expectation must be done for the self. How is the physical, daily effort of becoming an Olympian or CEO benefiting someone else? It isn’t! It is and must always be for the self – so that the residual outcome from the effort might be a benefit….for others.
This is my opinion and feel I am getting a little “micro-deep” for a blog. So, let me reference a great example. The very famous series of pictures in this post is of Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to run the Boston Marathon in 1967. At the time, it was considered a men’s only race and as you can see, her efforts were not appreciated by some men. For her courage and her ability, K.V. Switzer opened the door for all women who run the Boston and other Marathons. She is a historical figure for women’s rights….and success. But my point is, her efforts first and foremost, encouraged by injustice, guarded by other runners, were to succeed for herself.
How I relate and work with others while growing my moral and creative self is my best self. Enjoy your day and yourself. This is the best self. Learn who to trust, who to avoid, what to risk and when to quit. Seek time along, with friends, in new space and familiar cafes. This is the best self. When in doubt, listen and ask. When you are 46% sure, jump!! Look for newbies, mentor young women and enjoy new ideas. Seek out change, equip yourself and team for assertive moves and use failure. This is the best self. Nothing is the end, you can always pivot. When you are wrong, apologize. When you aren’t, don’t! And when it isn’t accepted, screw it. This is your best self and it is only the beginning.
Being Thin-skinned is not a recommended or appropriate attribute for any professional adult. Crying, withholding information, the silent treatment and passive aggressive behavior are but a few ways women reveal their thin skin, says author Dr. Lois P Frankel. Whether you are a musician who has heard a few, “thank you, don’t call us, we’ll call you…” Or someone who has made a mid-life career change or you are mom whose teenage angel just turned witchy. It’s OK. It’s your process of the event that will reveal your self with thin or thicker skin.
My go-to response when thrown a curve is to let it sit. I don’t judge, react or take action until I can sort out my view. Then, I move into an appropriate response. The answers to questions that address my values, feelings, time, self-respect and a suitable behavior should dictate my move. Do we sometimes get hit so hard that we cry? Yes – don’t worry, it happens. But should I continue whining about it or use pity to get me way? Of course not.
We have people in our lives who want us to be brave. Punching someone is not brave. Back stabbing and blackballing is not brave. Taking time and thickening my skin is brave. This is what I have learned about myself. My skin is getting thicker.