Category Archives: How do you define success?
A few years ago I ordered my first pair of progressive lenses. Before progressives I wore contact lenses and used reading glasses for closer work.
I drove my family crazy the first week with those progressive lenses. “I don’t know about my new glasses,” I muttered, over and over. It seemed I had to move my head too much. It seemed the reading portion of the lenses was too narrow. I fretted and worried that I had wasted a lot of money on glasses that weren’t going to work for me.
And then one day, my brain clicked. My brain figured out how to work with those glasses, and it seemed to do it instantly. One minute everything felt all wrong, and the next I was saying, “These glasses are GREAT! No matter where I look, I can see!”
I remembered that experience when I watched this video. It’s a reminder to me that sometimes we have to keep working at something that feels wrong or difficult so that we can give our brains time to figure it out.
“We have been taught to believe that negative equals realistic and positive equals unrealistic.” —Susan Jeffers
Wouldn’t it be enlightening to gather statistics on how many people have given up on dreams because someone told them their aspirations were unrealistic? How many hockey players have hung up their skates because a coach told them the National Hockey League was a long-shot? How many entrepreneurs have stopped seeking investors after being told their ideas would never sell? How many writers have filed stories in drawers after reading dire statistics about the state of the publishing business? How many people have given up because they’ve been told that “NO” equals sensible, but “YES” equals dreamland.
More importantly, how many people equate failure with negativity?
Henry Ford didn’t see failure as negative. On a recent trip to Michigan, I took this picture during our visit to the Henry Ford Museum. (Side note: Please visit the museum, if you have the chance. It’s about much more than cars; it’s about life.)
“I would rather build a big plane and learn something, even if it didn’t fly, than to build a smaller one that worked perfectly and not learn anything.” —Henry Ford
Henry Ford would rather try something unrealistic and fail positively than try something realistic and succeed negatively.
Mind-twisting, isn’t it?
Sharpen those skates, dust off that business plan, pull the stories out of the drawer: Dreamland is a fun place to live, and failure is useful too.
There I was, walking in the woods, not bothering anyone, when—ZZzzzt—out of nowhere a large insect dive-bombed into my neck and stung. It was a large insect, so the impact alone stunned me. Then the sharp sting. It happened so fast and hurt so much, I didn’t see what kind of insect it was. It struck and then buzzed off, literally.
I gasped at the sharp, pain. Ow!
I stopped. I’ve never been allergic to insect stings, but you never know when that might start, and the sting was on my neck where swelling would be dangerous. I was alone and far enough away from home that a serious allergic reaction would have meant big trouble.
I waited to see if there would be swelling, and there wasn’t, so I carried on. No biggie, right?
But the unexpected attack set me to pondering the fragility of our daily lives, and how sudden, unforeseen events sometimes turn best-laid plans upside down. There we are, walking along, not bothering anyone, when—ZZzzzt—catastrophe dive-bombs in. Impact. Sting.
When those things happen, I re-evaluate what is important. Have I showed my kids that I love them today? What was the last thing I said to my husband when he left in the morning? What will I do today to make the world a better place?
I didn’t know what happened to that large insect to make it so angry before it performed its airstrike on me. Perhaps a dog-walker disturbed it? Maybe nothing happened to it, and I simply had the misfortune to encounter the Oscar the Grouch of the insect world.
I did know that asking “Why me?” would be a waste time. Why not me?
The only thing to do when ZZzzzt happens is to stop, wait, re-evaluate and carry on with new mindfulness of what is really important.