Tag Archives: failure

Staying True To My Younger Self

I apologize ahead of time, this post is going to ramble, but come together at the end. If you have a busy day you may want to save this post to read later…

I recently shared a post on Facebook about an aspect of writing that all writers go through, rejection. In this digital age we get rejection emails instead of letters, and my mailbox was filled with them. I’ve been getting a lot of them this year. Even when you know this is a part of the process, it is still hard to deal with right at that moment, or in my case, so many at one time. And some of them hurt more than others for different reasons. The grand prize for one contest I entered was to speak about poetry to students at colleges. I thought that would be cool.

I was thankful for all the responses from family and friends on Facebook telling me to keep writing. To stay true… which brings me to a YouTube video.

Dream On” by Video Advice is one of those motivational videos that mash up  different speeches with video clips, mostly from movies. This video’s audio starts with a quote from Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s Commencement Address at the American University in Beirut:

Girl looking at mirror

As you think about that for a moment, let me share what my word of the year is:

Designed by second son.

The idea behind that word was for me to BE a good father, to BE a good husband, and to BE a writer (yes, I hear Yoda, too). Instead of trying to do these this year I am going to fulfill those roles, which highlights the Facebook post, rejection letters (emails) are part of the process of being a writer. Especially since it has been awhile since I have actively pursued getting my work published. I have to be ready for those setbacks.

But let’s connect the Facebook post to the quote from Nassim Nicholas Taleb and the responses I received about staying true…

What I find most empowering about his idea is how Nassim Taleb flips the idea of looking back on our lives. The popular idea is to give advice to our younger selves. Heck, there’s even a web series where athletes write back to their younger self (The Players’ Tribune). Let alone the popular songs and such.

But Nassim Taleb flips the idea, asks us to consider if who we have become would make our 18-year-old self proud. Did you fulfill the potential you held at that time? Did you pursue your goals? Did you live up to your own standards?

That’s a powerful idea…

And as I worked to publish the 20 Year Anniversary of my first book of poetry And I Never Told You, I came to realize as a poet, as a writer, that I had let myself down. Not that I ever stopped writing, but I let that part of me fall to the bottom of my priority list. As Nassim Taleb states, life corrupted me.

Corrupt might be a harsh word, but still true. As I read through other poems to add to the book, I noticed how the poems had more passion. They were raw, even undefined at times, but the poems represented my troubles and joys authentically. My poetry now is stronger in form and still reveals depth of emotions, but maybe not so openly. The poems have a guarded feel, more layers to get through. I’m not saying it is a bad thing, some of my favorite poems are from the last couple of years. What I hope you understand is how life has changed me to be more guarded in my works, to be more guarded in my everyday life. The irony is that I still feel the same pain.

Nassim Taleb’s quote seems to hint that life corrupts us with money, status, and things like that. But life can corrupt us with fear, pain, confusion, and simple busyness. What bill is due this week? What time is the dentist appointment? These things can blanket our dreams and even our hearts.

So I am making my younger self proud by BEing the poet and writer that I wanted to be. I know there will be rejection letters and other hurdles.  How about you?  What could you do today that would make your younger self proud? It doesn’t matter how old you are now, what matters is that you can pursue your goals at any time. Let today be day one of your success story.

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Time to Give Up

I am going to go against the grain today. I am going to ask a hard question. And I ask you to not jump on the inspirational bandwagon.

When do you know it is time to

I can predict your answers… at least the first ones that flood your mind. Don’t give up. Follow your heart or dreams. Stay the course. We can’t forget the Thomas Edison quote, “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”

But I ask you to think about this question for a minute.  To consider some ideas before answering the question about giving up.

The first concept to consider is Passion.

Jon Acuff in his book Start: Punch Fear in the Face, Escape Average and Do Work that Matters brings up an interesting question regarding this idea. Does your dream get you up early? Here is his blog post on the idea.

If you don’t have the passion to actually go after something, then it is time to let the dream go. There is no use in working on a dream with minimal effort. It is a waste of your time.  Spend that time on something else.

Another concept to consider is the Cost.

Achieving anything has a cost to it. In the example above the cost is time (and sleep). But don’t take time lightly. We can not do everything. If we spend time on something, that means something or someone is not getting that time. And Time is not the only cost. There is also the cost of money, energy, and relationships to highlight a few.  If you are not willing to pay the cost of achieving a dream, then it is time to give up.

The hardest concept is Failure.

If you are not making progress on your goal, it might be time to give up. This is a tricky concept because we all do hit a wall, which I discuss at Stop Doing Nothing blog. Failure alone is not a sign you need to give up on a goal. And I can’t give you a time table to follow so that after six years you should quit. I do believe failure tells us that something is wrong. It could be timing, our approach, or a simply a bad day. But it can also be the wrong dream. If nothing is working. Failure is all you are experiencing. It might be time to let the dream goal.

When do you know it is time to give up?

If your goal doesn’t drive you.  If you are not willing to pay the cost of achieving your goal. If you are experiencing nothing but failure. If all three of these concepts ring true. Then it is OK to give up on a dream because you can go accomplish another goal that has been waiting for you to achieve.

 

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Failure

“Fight on, my men,” says Sir Andrew Barton,
“I am hurt, but I am not slain;
I’ll lay me down and bleed a while,
And then I’ll rise and fight again.“Sir Andrew Barton”

As many football fans know, the Buffalo Bills would fight back to the Super Bowl the next three years (and coming up short in their goal to win it).  In their third appearance they were a wild card team. What an example of strength and heart.

Sometimes it seems that life is filled with failure.  It feels like a streak of bad luck hits us.  Stress, unexpected situations, any number of things can be viewed as a negative in our lives.  Everybody has failure.  But how do we respond?  That is the important key to success.

I know that I am not writing anything new, not presenting a break through in life for anyone.  But we sometimes need to be reminded why it is important to “rise and fight again.”

Failure can distort our view of ourselves; it can cripple our resolve and sabotage the true joy of life around us.  We must feel the pain of failure, let it touch our heart and spark a tear or two.  That is the bitter sweetness of truly living.  Success is learning from that pain and “moving forward” toward our goals.  As the New Year approaches it gives us a chance to reflect and refocus. I can promise you that failure will occur next year, and I hope you will move forward through it.  In fact, I dare you to.

Have a great 2012!

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