For the flower failuremonth 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.

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girl with cigaretteRecently 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.

girlsSuccess 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.

Reworkcently 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 metie board 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.

A woman, listed only as K. Switzer of Syracuse, found herself about to be thrown out of the normally all-male Boston Marathon when a husky companion, Thomas Miller of Syracuse, threw a block that tossed a race official out of the running instead, April 19, 1967 in Hopkinton, Mass.(AP PHOTO)

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.

crevasse everestToday, I am writing down my business plan for a 2nd adventure.  I have read many books and today I step over the great crevasse of fear to put my own words into the universe.  What a quiet thrill to see my future ignite before me.  Failure is possible….or not.  That is why I do it!
I share this because I know in business, fun, faith, music, life – we are all connected.  I need your encouragement and hope my ideas will encourage you.  Not encouragement in the form of a phone call or pat on the back.  But as an accountability.  If I post a goal out for all to see, I am starting the clock to make it work.  So here I go!

To follow a dream is to express myself.  I acknowledge the possibility of failure in its outcome but I don’t consider taking a leap of faith as failure.  If a project fails, stalls or succeeds, I count it all as a learning experience.  I do believe we need to feel the feelings of failure in order to understand our ability.  When I succeed, failure is still a central part of it.  It is my comparison, my reference. As I teach students to sing, I also let them know the risks, highs and lows.  But “risk” is another post topic.

Your work is not too much for you to handle.  Take it one step at a time.  Today, I began by finding the right pickaxe, the right latter and then I took 1 step after another.  That 1 step is success.