Failure Speaks

I hate you.
When I start your day, I love reminding you of how worthless you are.
Listen to me. No one should listen to you. You have nothing worthwhile to say.
I can find multitudes of reasons why you should not even get up…and I enjoy sharing them with you.
I thrive on your desire for pity. People should feel sorry for you because of your lack of worth.
I can turn the smallest setback into a lifelong issue if you just listen to me.
Remember when your friend looked at you like you didn’t know what you were doing? That was me who told you that they didn’t like you. The funny thing is that I told them to look at you like that to make sure that you didn’t take any more chances.
Remember when your boss asked you to take on that new task? That was me who told you not to do it because you wouldn’t gain anything from it. In fact, I was the one who told your boss not to ask you, but your boss didn’t listen to me.
I sometimes join up with your pride to make sure it doesn’t get damaged. Somebody has to protect it. After all, if you don’t have pride in yourself, you won’t be able to do anything, right?
When it comes down to it, I may be the best friend that you have. I save you from things like embarrassment, sadness, unnecessary responsibility, confrontation and a host of other uncomfortable things.
There is no reason to have uncertainty in your life when I can make your path certain. In fact, some people may even get our names mixed up and call you by my name because you start to have the same effect on them that I do.
That is fine with me. Many follow me because it is just easy to. Life is hard enough without looking for more difficulty.
Come and join me. Pretty soon, you can be just like me.

The Problem of Hope

Hope is a strange thing.  You grow up saying “I hope I make the team” or “I hope that I get that job”, but hope can mean so much more and can be applied in many different situations.  Looking at the definition of hope, it reads “a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.: ‘he looked through her belongings in the hope of coming across some information’, ‘I had high hopes of making the Olympic team’ and “a feeling of trust’”.  Trust, hope, aspiration, expectation and goal are all in the same category, but why do you have such fleeting feelings when it comes to hope?

Is it because, as a child, your hopes were dashed because you did not get what you wanted for Christmas?  The sudden absence of a parent or close friend?  Promises made and broken?  What kinds of disappointments get into your mind and affect your life for years to come?  Can you actually take control of those “negative triggers” in your mind?

It is amazing how events piled upon more events, create your personality.  Some call it “being shaped by your environment”.  How can you take the reigns or wrestle away the control from your environment and move your life in a positive direction?

This is a gap because when hope leaves, there is emptiness. It can be easily filled with the wrong things.  It can even be filled with the need for isolation.  But if you are wanting to properly fill this gap, it needs to be filled with a “positive”; a habit that does not destroy you, but builds upon you.

Many have filled it with reading the Bible, exercise, writing, learning a new skill, etc., many times to excess, but it all relates to how you deal with failure.  If you go in a negative direction after a negative event, you have filled your personal gap but sometimes made it even worse.  And many times, that negative direction creates negative attention towards yourself.

Realization of this habit or “gap filling” is half of the answer.  When you realize that you are creating a negative pattern by your own actions, you can actually seek to direct your reactions, one by one.  Can you direct all of your negative patterns?  Probably not, but deciding to do nothing is still a decision and will eventually take you further down the negative pattern.  Sometimes, realization is what is needed…with an alternate path waiting to be taken.

Here is an exercise to leave you with.  It is not easy and you may struggle with it.  Take your negative end result and work backwards from it, numbering each event that led up to it.  Look at each event with the possibility of “What would have happened if I would have responded differently?”.  The key to this exercise is to be thorough, so just take one event at a time and be honest with yourself.

Afterwards, add a comment, disagree, scream at the blog, whatever…just realize where your reactions take you.

A Mess of Feelings

Sometimes you have so many feelings inside that it is hard to sort all of them out…been there? When this happens, what can you do to dig your way through it. Well, you can just start writing and hope that it all comes out like spitting words on to a page. It works sometimes but what if the words just won’t come out, even on paper?

Boom At that time, you need to blindside yourself…again. Seems like we need to do this quite often, huh? But consider this…if your attitudes, fears and reactions were correct everytime (and I mean everytime), you probably wouldn’t be reading here. So admit it and let’s move on. You need to know what the destructive behaviors are so that they can be targeted.

Now you noticed that I said “destructive”. Did that surprise you? Thinking of your life as a road that you are driving on, when a car drives in front of you while you are moving at a high speed, do you have time to sort your feelings out? No, your reaction is the decision you have to live with. Let’s think of it another way. When teaching martial arts, many times instructors will set up scenarios and have you react over and over until it is part of you. The situation is usually one where there needs to be emergency action, therefore a best reaction is programmed and the student responds. Life does not change its learning processes in other areas just because feelings are involved.

So the reason for blindsiding yourself is that you do not want to provoke one of your behaviors that may be destructive. I think Michael Hyatt was the one who said  “The really important stuff happens outside of your comfort zone.” That is what we are talking about, but in a different way. If you keep saying “Why can’t I get better at ___________?”, or “Why can’t situations be better?”, you may need to consider this as well. Remember the definition of insanity…doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results each time?

Sorting out feelings sometimes requires backing up a bit. Get out the pen and paper or computer and get ready to list. By the way, do you know why pen and paper work better than the computer? Because you can’t turn them off. But however you do this, take action. “Action cures fear”, a phrase coined by David J. Schwartz, is a key here.

bowl of jelly beans

So backing up here will mean looking at categories, subjects or areas where these feelings reside. Think of this as having a large bowl of assorted jellybeans. You take a jar, open the lid and write on the side of the jar “Green”. Just that one jar.

I know what you’re thinking. “But I need a few jars, one for each color, and I need to dig through the bowl and find out how many colors there are so I can have enough jars and…”

Just one jar.

Labeled “Green”.

Find one that is green and put it in there.

Just the same, Label the “jar” as “Job”, for example. Write it out. Find one thing that bothers you or concerns you about that and write it down. Think about only this one thing right now and look at ways to make it better and write them down. Think of something else that bothers you about your job or career and put that “jellybean” in the “jar”.

You might say “But what is the goal here? At this rate, I will never get finished”. The point is that history often repeats itself and you learning to handle one thing at a time means that next time that “jellybean” is thrown at you, it gets put in the “jar” right away and never gets to the “bowl”.

Do you remember learning to write, then spell, then read? It didn’t all happen at once. They built on each other. Your learning process is still the same. Find a “jar” and label it. Soon, you will notice that your “bowl” is out of green jellybeans and it is time for another jar. Repeat.

Your life is what you make of it. Every move you make can either get thrown in the bowl or in the right jar.

The bowl is indecision and the jar is decision.

Attack mode – Part 2

The element of control…why is it there?  Everyone likes to be in control.  Even when it seems that someone is out of control, the reasoning for their actions is for them to be in control.

Back to the chess game.  Stalemate.  Why? Because one has refused to move.  Reasoning?  The game or process is coming to a climax and the result will be evident:  Success …or failure.  Both of them are painful.  The latter means rejection.  The former means that the process will be encouraged again and the possibility of rejection will creep up again.

This stagnation is real with many.  It is a gap that is hard to fill.  The ability to risk rejection and succeed or fail is coveted but seemingly unreachable at times.

So what is the gap?  If someone were raised without a father or a child of divorce, the fear is sometimes too real to bear.  Taking the step into the unknown is stagnating… paralyzing…debilitating.  Whether acceptance or rejection, there will be rejection at some point if the process is allowed to continue.  So immobility is the choice.

It is the choice.  The act of not choosing is still a choice, and immobility is choosing to fail.

And waiting until there is not any other choice but action?  Is what?  Still failure or a forced effort?

Many entrepreneurs have talked about some of their best work coming at the time when that effort is forced.  Some of their greatest innovation coming to be when they had no other choice.  But should someone put themselves in a detrimental situation every time they desire great innovation?

There is a better way; in fact, many better ways but that “effort” can be engineered rather than forced.  Therein lies the immobility factor again, though.  Some people will plan themselves to the grave.

More to come…

Attack mode

What makes you feel capable of doing the things you set out to do?  Or do you just do it whether you feel capable or not?  Many times, when your back is up against the wall, like a wild animal outnumbered by its aggressors, you attack a need.  But is that what it takes to get you to act?  And once you do, do you feel that it was not done well efficiently?

Wouldn’t it work better if you acted, made mistakes, corrected them in a timely manner and continued until you got finished?  “Attacking” the issue with a calculated fervor before it has progressed to the point of expediency?

The problem can be procrastination,…fear, …laziness, …you name it.  It is something that is engrained in you and your psyche.  To get past it, you need to fight the urge to “not do it”.  Like quitting smoking or eating junk or drinking, it is an urge that is just as destructive.  If you don’t do it, you are putting yourself at the risk of going into attack mode to get it done.

This is part of posterity thinking, you know.  Remeber the chess game?  What happens in a chess game when one player  decides to wait, stall or just not move?  Well, if it is a timed game, that player loses.  But if it is not, the game stands still…the other player is at the mercy of the first…who is in control.

Do you see the issue?

More to come…

Trust and fear

So I have been on vacation (as you could probably tell) and have not posted for a few days.  I have been working on some other projects and spending time with my family.  This post has been in the incubator for a couple of weeks and brewing during that time.  I am scolding myself in much of it but many of my posts are aimed at myself and you get the brunt of it as well.  Welcome back…it’s therapy time.

I have heard that when analyzing problems, when you get to the 5th “why”, you are probably at the source rather than the symptoms.  Sometimes, habits that are holding us back are sourced by something totally different and deeper.  Just like putting a bandaid on cancer…

Dig a little deeper

Dry

Dry times are difficult to go through.  It is where I am right now.  These times are like being depressed except you’re not.  Life’s battles have not gotten harder, it just feels like you have given all that you have and there is nothing left.  But…taking the effort that you have left over and utilizing it to its best use tends to show later on that you can do more with less energy than you think.

 

These times will test you.  You will come home grouchy and gripe at everyone, thinking that you are just acting normal until you do something that takes you outside of yourself to see how much of a pain you are being.

 

You may get up in the morning and think that talking to God is the last thing that you want to do…but…these are the times when He longs to hear from you.  “Cast your cares on Him for He cares for you.”

 

Talk to Him like He is your actual living father.  After all, He is.  He is the father that our fathers could never be because of their human frailties.  You can unload on Him.  Its ok.

 

Sometimes you have to think about people like Moses and how he talked to God.  “Lord God of Israel, your chosen people are such a pain!  And we are slaves!  And I am not a leader!  I talk with a stutter!  Why don’t you choose my brother?  He is better at this kind of stuff.  He beats everybody at checkers and cornhole.  People love him but they just look at me and wonder why I cannot be more like him.  Why me?”

 

Do you think that he may have been much of a complainer?

 

God wants to use us anyway because we are His instruments.  You have the choice to be used of Him or let someone else.  But He wants to talk to you.

 

Talk to Him…again…like He is the perfect daddy.  Because He is.

Know that this is just a short season in your life and He will give you nourishment to where your thirst will go away and your dry times will become profitable and productive, spiritually and physically.

How are you?

Are you working for your posterity or your posterior?  On Sunday, are you looking at getting to the week…or through the week?  Are you thinking CYA or JOY?

 

Much of how you get things done depends on how your attitude.  I think back to one of my previous posts, The Precedent, and the manager of the restaurant I spoke to.  He was truly grateful and the effect of praising him and his team had a replicating effect as well.  Speaking to him a few weeks later, he said that after I left, he stopped his whole team and told them about it.  He said that this is what they had been striving for…to consistently serve a good product, and he was delighted to share the experience of customer satisfaction.

 

We just do not realize how far our influence goes?  People talk about making a good first impression.  It is sooooooo important.  People form an impression of you before they ever speak to you, if they ever do speak to you.  If you are dressed outside of the norm, your expression and attitude usually have to work harder to maintain a good first impression.

 

Now you may say that you don’t care what other people think of you and to some degree, that may be true.  But….how hard do you want to make life for yourself?  And to change your “first impression rating”, it takes some preparation.

 

I used to listen to and read different authors telling you how to be happy.  It would be a bit comical at times when I would hear them talk about making yourself happy.  It sounded artificial and forced and actually it was.  But it was more like rubbing menthol on sore muscles.  It started on the outside and worked its way in.  Your attitude is affected either by you or your surroundings.

 

Robert D. Smith may not have coined this phrase but when he said it, I remembered it.  He said, “I don’t sing because I’m happy.  I am happy because I sing”.  Sounds kinda dumb, right?  Well that “dumb” habit may mean the difference getting good service and bad.  Having a nice conversation or negative?  Getting a kiss from your spouse or a look?

 

Preparation for life is a part of life.  It is a paradoxical thing that keeps feeding itself and determines really HOW you are…

So…HOW are you?

Guarded

There is an amazing little story, probably a legend, that I read the other day about a guard post in England.  The guard post was set up next to the castle walls and had one guard posted there, kn shifts, 24 hours a day.  The post was not near a gate, door or any sort of entry, but just a guard along a stretch of sidewalk along the fence.  When a tourist asked the sentry what was being guarded, he answered, “I do not know. This post has been here for over 100 years and it is commanded that a sentry is placed here  at all times”.

Sentry

The tourist, amused, decided to find out what the reason for the sentry was.  After asking around for a few days, the answer was revealed.  Over 100 years ago, the Queen of England (at that time), planted roses at that very spot because she felt the walls were too uninviting. She hoped that the climbing roses would cover the walls and fill the air with its sweet scent.  It was commissioned that a sentry be posted there to guard the roses so that they could grow unhindered.  That Queen had since died and so did the roses, but the sentry post had been there ever since, guarding what looked now to be a regular grass-covered plot of ground.

There are things in your life that you hold on to.  Things that you have started and not finished.  Things that are gifts but not a way to make a living.   Things that are guarded but are no longer there.  These can be physical, mental…even spiritual.

They can be things that were started by someone 100 years ago or yesterday but all they do is take up space, time and money;  resources that you have longed to have more of.  It is necessary in life, just as when you re-evaluate a budget that you look at life’s budget and remove the items that are robbing you and your family.  Seek out the sentries that are being wasted and guide them to the places they are needed.