Tag Archives: success

Permission to Fail

Be patient. Be kind. Fall down. Get up again. Forgive yourself.

As we all blindly sprint toward some imaginary, concocted finish line, we hold onto the hope that a solid grip on the brass ring will somehow bring a permanent sense of fulfillment and satisfaction.

But even the most clever moves on the chessboard are often met with an equal or greater riposte.

A difficult lesson to learn is that a lack of adversity is not necessarily a good thing. Getting knocked to the ground can hurt the body (along with the ego), but the strength it takes to stand and fight another day is worth the bruised knees and battered self-esteem.

We are not perfect. But we are perfectionists stuck in the shoes of fallible creatures. Making peace with that incongruity is the first step toward shedding the skin of self-criticism and personal disparagement.

This is exponentially easier said than done. Beating ourselves up over every misstep and mistake we make is a national pastime.  Our society reserves praise only for the best of the best, and shuns second place losers like a colony of lepers holding silver medals, plastering on fake smiles of faux enthusiasm for disinterested press lines.

But without defeat, there is no success. If we don’t give ourselves permission to fail, we never learn. If we never learn, we never grow.

Reframe your personal narrative. Relish the wins, but embrace the losses with a modified focus on what can be gained from coming up short or missing the mark.

Failure might finally have a different feel when it’s wearing fuzzy slippers instead of spiked heels.

Adolescence Interrupted

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Listening for the Unreturned Echo


“Sometimes the world seems like a big hole. You spend all your life shouting down it and all you hear are echoes of some idiot yelling nonsense down a hole.”      -Adam Duritz

I double-checked the address. The flap was sealed without a crease. A Forever stamp was cleanly tucked into the corner.  I watched the mail carrier slide it into his satchel. An irrefutable delivery confirmation teased the idea of progress. So why am I left staring at empty inboxes? How can every call made to the universe go unanswered? Why should a desire to bring positive change be met with such opposition?

Recently, I was discussing the sensation of life in LA with some friends. I used the metaphor of a series of tall concrete walls. Placed strategically in a circle with just enough space between them to present the false illusion of freedom, the only way to escape the enclosure is to sprint, at full velocity, directly into the unbending slab. You crash, stand up, shake the dust from your shirt, and then speed head first into the next one. Being an isolated idea maker isn’t a job for the faint-hearted.

In your mind, you believe it’s tenacity and the will to succeed. You subscribe to all the theories that recommend attacking a problem from a unique angle, never doing things the same way and expecting a different result, keeping your nose to the grindstone, etc. There is an addictive false sense of forward momentum, simply because one foot is traveling in front of the other. But racing on the surface of quicksand will only bring you so far. Like dancing in the open jaw of an alligator, execution ultimately falls short of strategy.

So, is the answer to stop trying? Should you simply refuse to acknowledge the impetus to help others through your work? Do you chalk up years of tireless toil to one giant strikeout? After innumerable swings and countless misses, do you throw the bat to the ground, shake your head, and wave that white flag?

No. Not now. Not ever.

Adolescence Interrupted 

New Puzzle, New Pieces

puzzle1

Duck and jab. Bob and weave. I thought I moved to Los Angeles to pursue a life of creative exploration. Little did I know, I was simply training to be a prizefighter. This journey has been less about producing art and more about the ability to take a punch and remain standing.

So I refuse to fall. If every path were a straight line, there would be no satisfaction at the finish. If the attainment of goals was as simplistic as checking off boxes on a list, we’d all feel grossly overcompensated for the paltry energy output and stolen shortcuts. There is a sense of earned accomplishment when the road to success is littered with landmines. Unfortunately, those bombs have a sneaky knack for detonation.

Still, this recent realignment has painted my canvas with a fresh coat of hope. I have to remember that each time barriers were built to slow my progress, I looked back fondly on those obstacles as reminders that I veered off course. Thankfully, many of those failed intentions would have been disastrous, and the universe made sure I was forced to see outside the tunnel. It’s not our job to question why one door closes, but to look carefully for the next handle to turn.

This year will be loaded with constant steps toward the light of possibility. Lessons never cease to be learned, and those scrapes and bruises give us the time and space necessary to heal and plan.

Adolescence Interrupted