False Starts, Heavy Hearts

”Today will never happen again.  Don’t waste it with a false start or no start at all.”                                                                Og Mandino

You might have heard the story about the great escape artist.   This man could not be confined.  He could extricate himself from any prison, any sealed enclosure within a very short amount of time.

This man wowed the crowds the world over with his unusual talent.

One day, he received a challenge from a small town sheriff: Try and flee from his jail. To make it more interesting, the lawman said the town would pay him one million dollars if he could free himself within 20 minutes.

But, there was a caveat.  If the breakout specialist was unable to flee his incarceration within the 20 minute period, the artiste would be forced to remit one million dollars to the town.

Needless to say, he was up to the challenge.  The offer was accepted readily by the performer.

Now, there was much angst, consternation and fear coming from the town’s people in this small, poor village. If the great escape artist freed himself within the allotted time, the municipality would be on the hook for one million dollars.  That would force the town into bankruptcy.  So the agreement by the community was far from unanimous and was ushered along with much uncertainty.

The great escape artist arrives in town.  He is greeted by the locals with much fanfare and hoopla accompanied by a high degree of underlying apprehension and concern.

Then, after brief welcoming remarks, the lawman, the escape artist and the assembled crowd, walk over to the sheriff’s office.  The performer is escorted to the holding cell by the officer who then slams the door tightly shut.

It is now Showtime!

The great escape artist gets to work.  For him, this is a “no brainer” payday.

Five minutes pass and the great artist is hard at work. He has freed himself from the most escape-proof institutions all over the world.

Ten minutes into the challenge, he is showing signs of concern.

Now with only five minutes left, he is laboring furiously.

With only one minute left, the great artist is sweating profusely and can’t understand why this particular jail door is so hard to unlock.

The twenty minutes have expired.  For the first time in his career, he has lost a challenge.  He is crestfallen and he is out one million dollars.

The town folk are both shocked and relieved.

He is totally frustrated. Still imprisoned behind bars, the great escape artist asks the lawman what made this particular jail cell so escape proof.

While waiting for a response from the lawman, he leans against the cell door and, suddenly the jail door opens.  The cell gate had never been locked in the first place.

The moral of this story is don’t allow yourself to be incapacitated by pre-conceived notions.

False Starts, Broken Hearts.

These are tough times.  That’s a given.  We are over the age of 50.  By this time in our lives, there’s been a bit of soul searching and reevaluating what is really important in life. Not only that but, along the way, we have even picked up some smarts bestowed upon each and every one of us, compliments of the gracious and peachy wisdom fairy.

But, even with all this going in our favor, most of us don’t take advantage of our talents and gifts.  Why?  I’m not sure but I’ll take a stab at it: It takes time and lots of introspection.

Here’s the kicker: Recent findings show that most of us would rather inflict pain upon ourselves than endure 15 minutes of peace and quiet.

Silence, meditation, prayer; call it what you will, it’s the means of opening wisdom’s door.  But, it’s not held under lock and key.  It is there for the taking; just open the door.

In the past, I have written about my formula:  Noise + Distraction and Resistance = Scattered Potential and a World of Stress.

We can’t stand the pain of failure we are experiencing, even when it lacerates the very essence of who and what we are.  The sad truth is it’s much easier to accept, endure and prolong current suffering than to hazard another course of action. It’s easier to deal with the devil you know than………………………………….

Perhaps, it’s the dread of facing fears and dealing with our own inner contagion.

This is not religion.  But, there must be some truth to the time tested old saws about the devil in details and the road to hell being paved with good intentions.

Dismissing these alerts creates a climate of prolonged and needless torment.

But, some people don’t want to be happy. They revel in the questionable delights of disenchantment and schadenfreude. They do not want help. They are not ready for assistance.  That’s not abandonment.  It is not “writing them off.”  It’s just the truth.  Helping people who don’t want help wastes precious time that should be devoted to helping ourselves.  It’s deflection of personal responsibility.

Let me go back to an old theory of mine, “People hear what they want to hear and only hear what they need to hear when they are ready to hear what they heard.”

And, it’s so much easier to get lost in pandemonium and diversion.  That is here and now. It’s an anodyne.

On the other hand, success and accomplishment have total disregard for immediate needs. These are the bitches of serendipity.

They come and go as they please, leave no posted time of arrival or departure and convulse with laughter at our frustration with their delays and cancellations.

Thus the certainty that accompanies the temporary reprieve takes precedence over the ambiguity of the unknown.

It can be compared to the quiet before the storm or the suspenseful scene leading up to the appearance of the monster or villain.

It’s like we have been trained to distrust silence. That upsets the apple cart and places an expiration notice on the acknowledged status quo.

Perhaps, it’s the worry and agitation. They come in tandem with the false assumption that doing nothing leads to nothing; and that’s considered a waste of time.  Or, it could be we are afraid to take the time to find answers and solutions in order to experience a more productive and meaningful life.

Half-hearted measures of the past have a way of magnifying in reflection thus impeding further discovery and resolution.

It is as if we become so addicted to the endurance of pain, that it is actually easier to continue with the burden and torment we know than surmount the uncertainty of the unknown; even if it renders a more positive result and outcome.

Yes, we are over 50.  We are wiser. But it’s the implementation of that wisdom that takes a while to kick-start into motion.

We have to rise above our inner demons.

All of us have the distinct ability to make our lives a living hell.

We also have the manifest capacity to rise above our immediate circumstance and achieve what it is and where we want to be.

Yes, life is hard.  But, what choice do we have.

We brand ourselves with failure when failures, flops and fiascos are only steps on the way to success.

The journey has not ended.  So, why stop now?  Take a break.  Get into silence, prayer, meditation.  They will guide you to answers.  Don’t deride it.  Don’t dismiss it.  Don’t give up.

You’ve tried everything else.

Don’t anticipate.  When you least expect things to happen, that’s when they always do. So turn attention to other things in life.

Let it happen.

Follow through by giving yourself a break. No more false starts and heavy hearts.  The future has its own disclosure process.  You have done all you can.

Life can be similar to a boxing match. There is no fighting in-between rounds.  That’s the time to rest and regain strength.

Excuse the mixed metaphors but you have been running so far, so fast and so long that it’s time to allow opportunity to catch up with you.

 

Failing on the Way to Success

 “When you get to the fork in the road, take it.”  Yogi Berra                                           

Every time I see that Berra quote, I have to laugh.  It’s not only funny, it’s true. 

Decisions, decisions, decisions.  It’s like it never ends.  It reminds me of the story about the stressed out executive. Every time he turned around he had to make another decision.  It got so bad, he stopped turning around.

So you have to ask yourself what is it you want to do?  What do you want to accomplish? What is important and what takes priority?

Whatever is on your wish list amounts to nothing without a high level of passion, conviction and action taken.

A few years ago, I interviewed a time management expert.  His name is Peter Tula. Check him out.  Tula is fabulous and what he told me was invaluable and made so much sense.

His advice: Iimagine having 95-one dollar bills in one hand and in the other, you are  holding 5-one hundred dollar bills.  Then, throw all that money up into the air and let the money fall all over the floor.

The next step: You have 10 seconds to pick up all that money.  So, ask yourself, what denomination are you going to reach for first?  Will it be the dollar bills or the five $100 bills?

What great advice!  Of course, we would all go for the bigger bucks.  That’s natural.

But, more important and significant are the choices we make.  What are the $1.00 choices and what ideas or projects do you consider to be $100.00 choices.  When you look at it that way, it really is up to you and what you consider to be of value.  Fabulous advice.

That’s not to say you can’t do everything.  When opportunity strikes, go for it, but prioritize.

I don’t know about you but I love what I’m doing.  Being over the age of 50, life has provided me a wide array of experiences; mostly good and some a lot less than swell.

Sure I’ve made some bad choices along the way but I think I’ve learned from those experiences.

Every once in a while, I’ve been known to brow-beat myself based on some past judgment lapse, but signing up for membership in Masochists Anonymous ain’t no option that’s even open for discussion.

I believe in the Law of Averages. Even when the only luck you’ve got is bad, eventually things do change for the better. That is if you allow it.

We learn from failure.  And, I find most people don’t use failure to further their lives and fortunes.

Now hold on, let me explain.

There is nothing worse than whiling away in splendid ambiguity.  You’ve got to make up your mind.

In life, we make choices.  Sometimes we don’t know what choice to make and then get stymied.  I believe one important reason for that is a mind set where the fear of and expectation of failure exists.

As you know, I’m an Author and a Speaker and now a Coach.

What I see missing in plans of action are failure steps.

Now, I’m not an advocate of the school of thought where if at first you don’t succeed, destroy all evidence that you even tried.

Funny line.  Now that might work in politics, but it doesn’t work here.

What I’m talking about is placing failure steps into a plan of action.  I’m not talking about celebrating failure.  But include some failure as steps needed to be taken on the way to success.

In other words, by failing you are actually succeeding.  You’re succeeding because you’re supposed to fail at a particular stage.  It’s built into your plan action so it doesn’t come as a surprise.  Some failure is expected. 

Look back.  Remember years ago, as you were working your way up the success ladder, it took some time. There were ups and downs. But, now in retrospect, it is pretty easy to overlook all those shortcomings on the way. And, who wants to dwell on that?

We’re human and past disappointments become meaningless.  Sure, they are lessons learned.  But failure is trounced by the number and quality of accomplishments  accumulated over the years.

So failure is not an option, right?

Wrong. And, therein lies the problem.

It is absolutely essential to eventual achievement to recognize and integrate failure steps into any plan of action in order to enhance a greater probability of success.

Consider it insurance.

Business consultant Mark Cofano says it is absolutely essential to include the possibility of failure into an action plan.  He refers to it as the Fatal Flaw Analysis.

Failure to do so gets us stuck, wastes a lot of time, wears us down and gets us nowhere.

And, once again you find yourself whiling away in splendid ambiguity wondering where to go and what to do.

Just the other day, I gave a talk.  Because the event was held a few days prior to a holiday, the audience size was fairly small.

But, it gave me an opportunity to add some new techniques I had learned recently from two expert coaching mavens, June Davidson and Dian Anderson.

First, I listened attentively.  Then I had members of the audience discover their own solutions.  I didn’t provide answers.  I just asked a lot of questions.  If I did anything it was guiding participating audience members to some solution.

Out of the questioning came some keys to resolution.  Needless to say, in the short amount of time we had to do this exercise, it gave the participants some food for thought.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said it best: “When it is dark enough, you can see the stars.”  And, right now, I’m seeing quite a few heavenly creations that I call opportunities.

Currently, I’m helping raise $15 million for an environmental project.  I’m assisting a friend in selling lighting by getting him to the right people.  I’ve got my Radio show on Talkers.com.  I’m studying Coaching and working with a Radio syndication firm selling programs to stations.

Will I fail?  Of course I will.  I have included failure steps in my plan while I’m on my way to success.  Will any of these projects flop?  I don’t know but I’m a persistent SOB and there’s enough on my plate where if one thing doesn’t happen, I’ll just throw the cards up in the air and pick another $100 idea.

The best part of all this activity is the energy it gives me. I am not bored.  In fact, I can’t get bored. I don’t have the time.  These are all “hands-on” opportunities.

Believe it or not, I am not overloading myself.  Just as with the time management expert, I have my order of priorities. I’m just making sure that they are of the $100 variety.

I’m sticking with it so I don’t go on overload.

All of this activity gives me more information, information that I’ll add to my platform presentations and my second book.

Speaking of which, it is now half way to completion and should be out in a few months.  The book is called “The Upside to Down Times.”

One undertaking powers my interest in other areas.  Plus, it’s surprising how often all these projects are similar in nature and seem, at some point, to actually intersect with each other.

What I’m saying is that once getting beyond the initial stages of mechanics and basic understanding of each area of interest, I found out that there’s surprisingly so many similarities to everything else.

It proves to me that there really is nothing new under the sun.

Do I know anything about the science behind environmental projects?  Nope.  When it comes to lighting, the only thing I know how to do is throw a mean electrical switch on and off.  Radio is in my blood so that takes care of the show and syndication.

And I’ve been writing now continually for the past few years, and my composing is actually improving; not award winning but…improving.  Most important, I’m now comfortable with the notion that writing is really all about re-writing and re-writing with the hopes of expressing myself with greater clarity.

I’m certainly no genius.  If I can do it, I know you can too,  in your own way.

The hard part is just getting started.  Don’t worry about starting at the beginning.  Just start anywhere. If you give it time, whatever project you’re involved with will disclose its own form and reveal its own beginning, middle and an end.  Remember you are failing on your way to success.

Otherwise, what’s the alternative?  Let me tell you: wiling away in splendid ambiguity is a tough way to live.  So, make up your mind what you want, be specific and allow for some failure in your plan of action otherwise you become a featured player in the story of your life.

Isn’t it time you do what you want to do?  Failure is just a stepping stone on your way to eventual success.

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