Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Even The Successful Get Locked Into Failure

A very successful speaker was about to go on stage and motivate and inspire hundreds of people as he had done hundreds of times before. However, right before hitting the steps, he turned to a colleague and said, "I'd much as hell rather be fishing," as his fading scowl turned into his stock and trade million-dollar smile.

Even the successful can get stuck doing that which they despise. But if you have an open mind, are able to think freely, creatively, and see the numerous matrices that exist around you, then you hopefully won't get locked into failure.

There are many people who are locked into failure. They feel that because they have been following a certain path--with blinders in place, of course--that there is no alternative. They only see what they have been conditioned to see on a limited basis because of a lack of study. Of course, if a person puts enough work into something, over a long time--month, years--then it may be difficult if not impossible to give up on that chosen path. Let me give you an example.

Coming from the world of academia, to a degree I believed briefly that I wanted to obtain my PhD and get a fulltime teaching position at a university. And this with an initial plan twelve years ago to go back to school, obtain my BA and MA, teach six years, and then go at it on my own--which I have done. However, I was briefly enticed with the idea of getting a fulltime job because of the security it would bring my family. This happening, of course, during some financially lean times. I was also enticed because of the belief that I would enjoy the intellectually stimulating environment of the academic world. Fortunately for me, I kept my mind open, free, and clear of any such permanent thoughts.

Even though I was enticed briefly, I realized that personally and economically the path I chose twelve years ago was the right one. First, I am not employable. I considered working for a university fulltime and found it stifling, especially stifling to my plan of aiding a greater number of people through writing independent of any university, institution or academic mindset. I also realized that economically it was not feasible. I could go into depth on both of these issues but the point here is that I was able to keep my head up long enough to see the forest and not just a few trees. I didn't allow my ego or desperate need for money to distract me from keeping to the path I had chosen (believing in and following the wisdom of the intuitive / creative voice), that which in the long run would be most beneficial to me, my family, and all those I could potentially help.

Unfortunately, when one stays on an undesired path, it will eventually creep up on the stroller--five, ten, twenty, thirty years later--creating emotional turmoil and angst, the individual having a difficult time trying to decipher its cause or source because over the many years they have created a dam of lies about the wrong path being the right one, making it difficult if not impossible to break through to the truth. Not that changing paths or careers is ever easy or a road not fraught with failure. But we were never put here to merely live out our time being unchallenged and stifled in personal growth and development. And by not following the needed path, symptoms will appear, such as unexplained anxiety, depression, anger, and so on. I have seen people get thrown onto a particular path not of their choosing and stay on it merely because they had been there a while. They didn't choose to be there. They weren't excited to be there. But because they had spent five, six, seven years on that path, they stayed.

I know of a woman who believes so much in her path, has convinced herself so well that the path she is following is justified, she justifies it by getting excited, even angered when she doesn't see others on her path show the same enthusiasm for the work they share. This may happen to you. You must look honestly at your career and ask yourself whether you are defending or supporting what you have chosen to do.

I know of an entrepreneur who runs a very successful business selling a very good product that provides long-term health solutions who was attempting to get a woman to come on board as a salesperson. However, because she had been on a path for some time--one that consumed a lot of her time, mostly through schooling and training--she couldn't see the great possibilities of fulfilling her dreams by becoming a salesperson for the entrepreneur. If she had become a salesperson and took the training, the position would have allowed her to build a great income and freedom, freedom to do others things she had only dreamed of. But because she believed that if she redirected her life and followed this new path that the thirteen years of following the wrong path (my words) she was on would go to waste. She hadn't chosen the path she was on nor did she particularly enjoy the path she was on, but merely because she couldn't see changing paths because of the time-spent factor she couldn't see the forest for the trees.

My brothers and sisters don't get locked into failure.

You love to do something. Do it. You know that there is something that you would love to do. Do it. At least try it. And as you continue to try those things you see as good possibilities, eventually you will run into that something that works.

From my personal experience, I initially wanted to be a professional athlete when I was in high school. I played basketball, football, and baseball. The sport I spent the most time on was basketball. I played basketball before school; during school; after school. My freshman year I played on the freshman team, the junior varsity, and the senior varsity. I played during the summer at summer camps. I played a lot and often.

In order to become a good shooter, I'd stand at the foul line and shoot one-hundred baskets. If I didn't hit eighty percent I'd start over. I became a very good shot. I loved basketball and couldn't get enough of it. However, by the time I graduated from high school, I realized that I didn't love it enough to continue to pursue that dream. But the practice, success, and team play provided a priceless education and great experience. I changed my mind because I had found a new love: music.

Before and during high school, I had played drums in the fife and drum corps, trumpet and trombone in the high school band, but it wasn't until I turned eighteen that I discovered the guitar and Jimmy Page. I soon applied the same attitude to guitar playing that I had to basketball. I sat and listened to and learned every Led Zeppelin song. I'd spend hours and hours and hours learning chords and leads. I eventually joined a band with a keyboard friend of mine and we began playing gigs and even writing songs. However, I realized that being in a band was only a hobby not a profession for me, that there was something else that I needed to be doing.

I thought that thing was standup comedy, which I pursued for over five years, using the same hard work ethic I had used in learning and playing basketball and guitar. And the experiences, challenges, and growing that I acquired doing so was priceless. But once again, this was not where my genius, my destiny lie.

After performing for four years, I decided to go back to school and work on my writing--my first love or a love that came about the same time as music did. I remember loving to read since a child. Before adolescence I'd grab a good book, climb a tree and read for hours. I was always fascinated by the words and worlds I encountered in books. I began writing at about the age of sixteen--mostly poetry. It was poetry that helped me get through my emotional down time and my more troubled, quiet and introspective years. At the age of twenty-eight, I returned to that world to stay.

It was a long, difficult, winding path that I have followed, but not atypical. There has been many a successful person who has tried and tried and tried again before finally achieving success. Napoleon Hill, author of the famous Think and Grow Rich, spoke of how the majority of successful men didn't become so until they reached their forties and fifties. Abraham Lincoln, a case in point. As I've mentioned previously, he failed at business and politics again and again, until he found success in his late forties.

Very rarely is it ever a straight line or obvious, clean and neat, simple and straight path. If it ever is, just imagine all the neat lessons you'd be missing out on. Thank heavens for the crooked path. However, beware! You may move down a path feeling great, full of purpose, assured by all signs, signals, and feelings of giddiness that this is where you need to be. Don't get too comfortable, for a few years down the road--it may be two, three, five, seven--you may realize something is missing. You get uncomfortable again. So you go off on a tangent. You pursue another dream. You work hard, you fail, you feel frustrated, friends and acquaintances call you a loser, silly and stupid, too dumb for words. But that's OK, for each path you take teaches you something new, something important, something life changing. And that, my friend is why you are here: to change.

Personally, even though I've had forays into the computer field, entertainment, academics, and now business, each field, each move, each day presented me with priceless opportunities to learn: how to deal with difficult people on the job, be responsible, on time, honest, work hard or lose the job / work, make adjustments on the fly, learn, study, write, express myself clearly and thoroughly, come to a greater understanding of the plight of those around me, get it done on my own, self-reliance, accountability, appreciate and respect others, on and on. These are priceless lessons, knowledge, understanding that can not be bought for a price. These are the gems we take with us when we go. These are the lessons that are not taught in school and learned in books. And when the book of life closes, these are the things that people will remember us by. They won't remember our car, our house, our toys, our exotic vacations. They will remember our smile, our gestures, a wink, a nod, an act, word or action of appreciation and kindness. These are the gems that the gem builders are know for and remembered for.

Success is there. It is waiting for you, but life has set up failures, and great they may be, for your benefit, growth and education, for we come here to grow, and to take that growth in for our betterment and, most importantly, for the betterment of others. If we use them correctly, very few of our experiences are wasted but can be used as building blocks at the foundation of a successful, purposeful life. For what do we take with us when we die? Only our thoughts. Hopefully soothing, satisfying thoughts of lessons we've learned about loving and being loved. Find your genius. Give and grow.

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