“The spirit, the will to win, and the will to excel are the things that endure. These qualities are so much more important than the events that occur.” ~ Vince Lombardi
Winston Churchill once said, “Success is not final and failure is not fatal – it is the courage to continue that counts.” Thomas Edison offered, “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”
Their words lead me to contemplate the very meaning of the words “success” and “failure.” Perhaps they are nothing more than labels we use for experiences that could very well be vital stepping stones. Both words are loaded with judgment that compels us to move closer to one and further from the other. But what if they are simply two sides of the same coin?
Consider the following events in each of these people’s lives:
- It’s been said that Abraham Lincoln failed in business twice, had a nervous breakdown, and was defeated in eight elections.
- Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor who thought he lacked creative ideas.
- When he was young, Thomas Edison was told by his teacher that he was too stupid to learn anything.
- Soichiro Honda, the founder of Honda, was turned down by Toyota for an engineering job.
- Before becoming a successful actor, John Wayne was rejected by the US Naval Academy.
- Lucille Ball was dismissed from drama school with a note that read “Wasting her time… she’s too shy to put her best foot forward.”
- Steven Spielberg unsuccessfully applied to film school three separate times.
- Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team.
- Baseball legend Babe Ruth struck out 1,330 times.
- The first novel of best-selling novelist John Grisham was rejected by 16 agents and 12 publishing houses.
- Before going on to sell millions of copies in 27 languages, Robert M. Pirsig’s book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance was rejected by 121 publishers.
- Deca recording company turned down the Beatles, with the reason “We don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on its way out.”
This list could continue for pages. What these people have in common is that they didn’t let labels like “success” and “failure” define them. They didn’t allow the events in their lives (or their thoughts and judgments about them) to get in the way of their dreams or what they knew they were capable of. And their courage, perseverance and determination benefitted not only themselves, but countless others – many of whom came generations later.
Another of my favorite quotes is from a woman named Susan Taylor who said, “Seeds of faith are always within us; sometimes it takes a crisis to nourish and encourage their growth.” Using this same wisdom, perhaps what some call “failure” is actually a catalyst – or even a prerequisite – for what others call “success.”
What’s happening in your life right now? What if it is the very experience you need to get where you most want to go?
If you are interested in more tips for transforming your setbacks to springboards, I encourage you to check out The Real Leader’s Guide to Freedom & Flow Group Intensive, an exclusive twelve-week group mastermind/coaching program/online training course kicking off the week of March 20. The program is a blend of online leadership development, small group mastermind, and one-on-one coaching, and is limited to eight people. Sign up today!
“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.”
Over the holidays, I had the delightful experience of traveling to Disneyland with family.
Every time I go there, it is like stepping into an alternate reality—one where the stresses and anxieties of the week before simply dissolve and the child in me emerges.
I am mesmerized by every intricate detail so carefully attended to by the multitude of people that make Disneyland what it is—from the enchanting castles and belly-dropping rides, to the perfectly manicured gardens and the warm smiles and tireless energy of every cast member.
And I can’t help but revel in a deliciously goose-bump-building thought.
All the wonder, delight and magic of this place—as well as everything that is associated with it (the movies, cartoons, storybooks and associated media)—ALL OF THIS began with a single thought in the mind of a man who took action to make it real.
I don’t know a lot about Walt Disney, but I imagine he was gripped by an idea—a dream that captured his heart and burst inside of him until he was compelled to gather the people and resources to make it happen.
This guy had a vision that couldn’t help but be embraced by others.
It spoke to their hearts and their spirits, and allowed them to be a part of something that does the same for everyone who encounters it. Disneyland is the “happiest place on earth” because it brings out the best in everyone who experiences it. It unleashes the magic each of us carries somewhere deep within us, and the most traditional of fairy tales are about that very subject. Even the performers on the various stages throughout the park sing refrains about looking within to find our heroes. What an amazing creation!
We all get inspirations from time to time. And the more we act on them the more we seem to receive them.
Ideas are a dime a dozen. When was the last time you got one that gave you goose bumps? And what did you do to take it to the next level of creation? Were you overwhelmed, thinking it was too big, or unrealistic to actually achieve? Perhaps it is too big for one person. But what if you were able to create a vision like Walt Disney did, that resonated in the very core of people who would gladly partner with you to make it real?
You have something inside of you that is waiting to be unleashed into the world.
The very act of doing it will rock your world, and that of others as well. Maybe it isn’t a multimillion dollar theme park, or a screenplay, or an organization. But whatever it is will carry the unique essence of you—who you are—and the compilation of everything each of your individual experiences has prepared you for. And if you bring it forward with the intention of making the world a better place, you will.
Who are you to deny that you are meant for greatness?
The beginning of every new year brings with it questions of what we most want to create in our lives and our work. If you are interested in strategies for better connecting with your vision and taking steps to bring it to fruition in a way that feeds and fulfills you, stay tuned for more information on my upcoming online course and group intensive, The Real Leader’s Guide to Freedom and Flow, or click here to get on the waiting list and get first priority (with no obligation) at the limited spots that will soon be available.
What’s not working in your life right now? Does it have you spinning into a bit of a tizzy? This week’s video features a story that might provide insight and inspiration to finding the solution you seek – by simply looking at your challenge again, with new eyes. I hope you enjoy it!
Here’s what I said in the video:
This clock belongs to a dear friend of mine, and she told me a story the other day that was just so enlightening to me. She gave me permission to retell it.
She loves this clock, just loves it. It matches her office beautifully. She has a couple of brushed steel lamps [that match], and it’s the perfect size, and she loves to look at it. But one day it stopped working.
So she went to put in new batteries and to her incredible disappointment, after she put the batteries in it, the clock still didn’t work. She wanted to have something in her office that was as beautiful, if not more beautiful, than this clock. So she did what any of us would do when we really love something enough that we want to replace it or replicate it. She drove all over town looking for a clock that was like this one — store after store after store. And finally she found one that wasn’t quite the same, but it would do.
So she brought it home and put the batteries in, and guess what — that clock didn’t work either! So she opened it up to take the batteries out and she realized, wait a minute – a light bulb went on in her head.
She went she got her old clock that she loved so much and thought she would try this again. So she opened the clock and put the battery in the opposite way – lo and behold it worked again.
I love this story, because it is so representative of we tend to do when something isn’t working. We run all over the place, rack our brains, and sometimes go to great lengths and great expense trying to come up with a solution, when all we needed to do was make a simple little shift using what we already have right in front of us.
Sometimes all you really need is a simple little shift.
Broken glasses picture by Edward Phillips from Dreamstime.com.
Ever get to a place where everything feels way too heavy and burdensome? Well I’ve been there too. The above video features a story about a conversation I had with one of my children years ago that never fails to help me get things back into perspective. Scroll down for more resources on lightening up.
Here is what I said in the video:
There was a time in my life a few years ago where I was just CRAZY busy. I’ve always had a unique talent for over-complicating everything — making things WAY harder than they needed to be, and I was doing that a lot. I remember racing to get my kid at daycare and having him be the very last kid to be picked up right around 6:00pm. And he would look up at me like, “Mom, you’re finally here – I didn’t think you were actually going to make it.”
During this particular week, I had a lot of things falling through the cracks. I was behind on some major deadlines, I was not really feeding my family or myself very healthy food. I was just feeling like a lousy mother, a lousy wife, a lousy person in general — like I just couldn’t get things the way I wanted to, which back then was PERFECT. If it wasn’t perfect, it wasn’t good enough.
I remember sitting on the couch with my toddler and he looked up at me and he said, “Mommy can I count on you?” And I thought “Oh my God, my two year old is questioning whether he can count on me! I must really be awful.”
And I looked at him and said, “What did you just say?” He said it again, “Can I count on you?” I replied, “OF COURSE you can count on me!”
And he looked up at me with his sweet little twinkly blue eyes as he raised his fingers to my shoulder to count with them, saying “One, two, three, four…”. I just remember looking down at him thinking “Oh my God!” and couldn’t help laughing. Suddenly everything felt lighter and better.
Now whenever I get in that place where I’m out of my mind overwhelmed – and taking myself WAY too seriously, I remember my sweet little boy at two years old — “one, two, three, four….”
For more on Lightening Up:
Illustration from Dreamstime by Nlizer.
The other day I was working from my home office when I noticed a man in my back yard. I figured perhaps he was a meter reader from the utility company and went over to the window to get a better look. He was wearing shorts, a t-shirt, and a large straw hat whose wide brim angled toward the ground. In his hand was what looked like a window washer with a squeegee on the end. He looked all around our back yard, glanced over to the back fence, and then proceeded out our front gate. An unsettling feeling came over me as I began to realize there was a very good possibility this man had no business on our property.
I watched as he walked over to a maroon minivan and slouched into the driver’s seat with the door open, waiting, his foot kicked up and resting on the open window. Peering out my living room window, I strained to see if I could make out the license plate. The letters were fuzzy and I couldn’t quite discern them. So I grabbed an envelope to take to the mailbox thinking that from there I could get a better look and scribble down the letters and numbers on the paper. As I walked toward the end of the driveway, the man quickly closed the car door, started up the engine and drove away. I began to run – trying one more time to get a look at the license plate, but the car just went faster.
My heart was beating wildly. I sent emails to my neighbors encouraging them to make sure their gates, doors and windows were locked and to be on the lookout for the red van that I saw. A few minutes later, I settled back into my study only to glance out the window and see the red van again – this time across the street, with the door propped open, and the same man I saw in my back yard sitting in the driver’s seat waiting.
Still looking out the window, I picked up the phone and dialed 911. I did my best to describe the man to the dispatcher and relay the details of my experience and felt a wave of relief when I saw two squad cars roll up behind the van. A policeman walked over to the man and the two of them talked. A few minutes later the officer called to inform me that the man in my back yard was from the irrigation service that comes twice a month to open and close the valve that brings water into our yard.
And then I felt the sting of embarrassment and humiliation followed by feelings of regret and sympathy for this poor man who was just interrogated by the police while doing his job in triple digit heat in Phoenix, Arizona. Compounding my foolishness was the fact that my husband and I have actually met this man and had a conversation with him. He was warm and kind and gave us advice on how to properly irrigate our back yard after having some work done there. I even remembered that his name was Tom.
As the police got back into their cars I walked across the street to thank them and apologize to Tom. “I am so sorry,” I told him sheepishly. “I didn’t recognize you and I was scared.” Tom’s mouth widened into a smile that revealed a few teeth missing. He laughed as he told me, “You wouldn’t believe how many times people have called the police on me. Don’t worry about it.” It was then that I realized that the window washer I thought he was holding in his hand was actually an irrigation tool. I explained to him that what really alarmed me was that he drove away as I was running after him. Turns out he never even saw me – just realized that he was starved and had exactly five minutes to run and get something to eat before the next valve had to be closed.
We had a very nice conversation in the minutes that followed. His eyes sparkled as we talked about his work, his three sons – one of which was having a birthday that day, and his relaxed, let life happen as it comes philosophy. As I walked back toward my house, I realized the power our fearful stories have over our behavior and the way things play themselves out in our lives. I had experienced firsthand the distortion of reality caused by faulty information my mind filled the blanks in with as a result of my fear and panic. I took very few data points and wove them together to create a worst case scenario that had me acting as though it was true. And none of it had to do with Tom himself – only the story I created based on what I was believing about my limited observations.
I can’t help thinking about how that dynamic plays itself out every day of our lives. We all take in limited information and we all create stories about what it means. Most of us tend to operate as though those stories are true. And other people do the same thing when it comes to their observations of us. It was a wonderful reminder to always entertain the thought that perhaps I don’t always have all the pieces of the picture or every detail relevant to the story.
It also made me realize the importance of not taking personally the sometimes perplexing or inexplicable reactions others may have to me – to keep an open mind, and an open heart, like Tom did. To remember that things aren’t always what they seem – and people are not always who we think they are. And to entertain the possibility that at any moment circumstances can change from being frightful to delightful – if I am willing to look beyond what my eyes and my mind are telling me to see what is really there.
Copyright Synchronistics Coaching & Consulting 2010. All rights reserved.
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