Double the success…

 

Oops-77709

“For you must have double the failures to have double the success”

Just a few hours ago, someone said this in a speech to group of retired educators, their families and friends, at a function in their honour. He could not have known the MANY mistakes that I made in attempting to organize this function and the tears and frustration that accompanied it.

It’s hard to appreciate these sentiments when you are 1. a perfectionist, and 2. someone who likes control.

We humans, are our worst critic. I chuckle at the thought, because I know it to be true. I don’t think that anyone berates us as hard as we do when we make mistakes. Perhaps its imagining the criticism that makes us so hard on ourselves, as we imagine others taking our mistakes apart and wondering “How could he/she make such an error?”.

But there is that word: error or mistake. As much as I hate making them, I’ve come to realize that they are teaching tools, moments in our lives when we are afforded an opportunity to learn something new about ourselves and of those around us. These are occasions that we may term ‘on the job experience’, as we navigate the varied experiences of life, that we have to work through.

You have to go through to grow through – if you never made a mistake in your life it means that either a) you are blind to your own mistakes and your Johari Window needs to be opened up, b)people are afraid of you ( because life always presents someone ready, willing and able to quickly and clearly point out your mistakes) and are talking behind you back or c) you have made mistakes but refuse to acknowledge them. Neither of these scenarios are acceptable for it would mean that our development has been arrested – we are not experiencing growth in key areas of our lives.

As one who has had a few doozies throughout my life, here is my advice:

Mistakes will happen. There is no way to avoid them. Accept them as a foundation for success.

Don’t take yourself or it too seriously.  In Jamaica we say ” If it no tek life and cause death, it no serious (if it doesn’t threaten yours or anyone’s  life or causes death, it’s not that serious). And that is true. Mistakes tend to cause us some periods of emotional and psychological discomfort but that’s how it is. Does this mean you are to be nonchalant? Absolutely not. For some errors do have serious consequences. For those that do have serious consequences, identify solutions, apply them quickly so you can move on to the next experience. The thing to do is learn from it and move on. Don’t allow them to become what defines you.

Learn from it and move on. Quickly.  This part needs no explanation. We already know that dwelling on it only makes it seem worse than it probably is. So if you can, put it behind you as quickly as possible (hopefully those concerned will allow you to).

If you can, don’t make mistakes that you will live to regret. This means that you will have to take care to examine choices before making a decision, if time allows. And time always allows. It doesn’t necessarily mean days, hours or weeks. Just take a moment to breathe and think. Otherwise, it means that you are acting impulsively.

Ah, if only I had taken this advice myself not long ago. But then again, I would not have learnt.

Teachable moments. Such is life.

 

The Zika Virus and being scared sh*tless

I live in the Caribbean and we get all sorts of things coming at us every summer through to December each year: storms, hurricanes, floods are commonplace. However, though they happen quite frequently, I always get a bit tense and jumpy when the season rolls around.

We’ve been hit with a number of tropical related viruses and communicable diseases throughout time. I unfortunately, was not skipped the last time around and caught the dreaded Chikungunya Virus(Chick V) when it passed through. Usually all of those things pass me by but I was bit (literally) in the behind by the aedes aegypti mosquito and viola!, the rest was pain and more pain.

That was just a year or so ago and I’m left with all sorts of small issues: lumps appearing at my elbows and my left thumb. They have since disappeared but now I have some arthritic-like symptoms in my joints. Various little aches and pains that I’m told are remnants of the virus, though nothing to incapacitate me totally. This has left me a bit wary, so I’m careful to ensure that the much needed vitamins and irons are regularly taken.

Despite being careful, I have not posted in the past few weeks because its flu season and, of course, I caught it. That, in combination with a number of sleepless nights due to studies and my current mode of employment, left me incapacitated for the past few weeks. I am still not fully recovered (have a nagging cough) but I have still had to power though work and school and any other important task that demanded my attention.

These challenges has left me a bit pre-occupied with the Zick V. I’ve been watching and reading with horrible fascination, all the new coverage regarding this latest epidemic. Is it an epidemic though? It seems to have just surfaced but in fact, has been in existence for quite sometime. I shake my head at all the complications it has brought to the lives of parents who have been caught unaware and quite innocently in a fracas being brought by an insect that was created to destroy another. I watch from the ‘safety’ of my living room, these mothers who have a look of bewilderment and I can hardly imagine the social welfare disaster that has been created. I wonder if these governments are prepared for what is truly to come.

I see their fear and my own stomach knots in response because you sort of wonder ‘what’s next?’. Between science and nature, we have been lashed with a number of diseases that we seem ill-equipped to handle.

I wish the best for them. I hope the powers that be quickly articulates some sort of social welfare response to the crisis that affords them the kind of support they will need over the next few years, at least.

Keep humanity in your prayers. We certainly need it.

Bless up.

 

 

Maintaining Your Momentum

“Heights by great men, reached and kept, were not attained by sudden flight. But they, while their companion slept, were toiling upwards through the night”. 

It seems my best ideas and aha! moments happen for me when I’m tired, in need of encouragement and having some ‘self talk’ to get me through a rough patch (and these have been happening a lot lately!). I was musing over the fact that things are moving in a positive direction for me but its been a struggle to maintain this upward movement.  With the success has come more responsibility and challenges and sometimes my knees (physically and mentally) buckle under the weight of it all.

So what do you do when you are getting your heart’s desire, but realize there’s way more to it than you previously thought? In Jamaica, we have a proverb, ‘The higher monkey climb, the more he exposed’. It means the more success you attain, the more you will be challenged and your varied weaknesses brought to the surface. They will come at you from all directions and you wonder what the heck is going on! What am I doing wrong? You ask yourself how do you adequately manage these challenges and minimize their [negative] effects?

Recognize that success is intentional: It’s hard work but you can decide to have fun with it along the way. Attitude defines your altitude and having a positive view of things will get you farther along than you focusing on the negatives. Success is an action word in every sense and is affected by your mental and emotional state as you traverse this path.You have to engage in activities that will take you where you need to be or to maintain that which you have attained. Success is lived every day that you don’t give up or give in. It’s lived when you choose to wake up so you can exercise, meditate or do whatever it takes to  navigate your day purposefully.

It won’t be sudden: It will take some time – it’s not an overnight thing. The journey becomes less frustrating when you acknowledge this. Acknowledgement allows you to focus on what needs to be done and in identifying appropriate ways to address your needs.

It takes work and commitment: Some around you may be sleeping on their gifts but you have to decide not to be like them. You alone gets to decide on what you need, and so you should define it according to your terms,THEN work towards it. You won’t attain what you need by sitting down and complaining, hoping and dreaming. It’s not a wishy-washy thing where today you believe and tomorrow you don’t. Double-mindedness only delays what you are working towards. Decide what you are going to do and just do it. Everyday, without fail, until it becomes a habit.

It’s always darkest before the dawn: ‘Toil’, which I define as “Working extremely hard or incessantly”, speaks to consistently applying oneself to labour, physical or mental. To get what we desire we have to ‘toil upwards through the night’, through the dark hours of doubt, loneliness or exhaustion of varied capacities (money, time, skills, body, emotions). The adage, however, points to something important: they were toiling upwards. It means then that you will eventually be rewarded for your hard work and you certainly won’t always be where you are. Change is constant and an eventuality- you alone decides on the direction that it will take.

This is how you maintain your momentum. By daily applying yourself, living your vision and remaining focused. By not hurrying along and comparing yourself to those around you. By remaining mindful of your purpose, and engaging in activities that are geared towards accomplishing it.

Success won’t come overnight. But then, due to your significant investment, it won’t be as fleeting. You’ll appreciate it when it comes even more.

Living Beyond Limitations: Launch out into the Deep!

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“When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” Luke 5:4

I recently posted on the matter of living beyond limitations and since then, I’ve been turning over the topic in my mind. Coincidentally, in alignment with these thoughts, I’ve listened to a few messages (sermons) and watched a vlog that spoke to the issue, directly and indirectly.

The one recurring theme of them all was the requirement of risk taking. From my own intimate examination of life experiences and those of others I’ve read of or researched, I have noted that in order to self actualize and succeed at the endeavour that you engage in, one must be willing to “Cast their bread upon the water” , so to speak. This word of wisdom, written by Solomon, a couple of thousand of years ago, holds true even today. In Ecclesiastes 11, he instructs us to “Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days”, which I believe is saying, “Put everything you have into it and you will reap great rewards from your investment”.

What does “Put everything into it” mean in todays context? Perhaps it means several hours and years of academic pursuits; huge commitments of time and money; foregoing ‘fun times and things’ in order for that dream business you have just started to not just come to fruition, but to flourish after a few years. Perhaps missing out on things that you’d prefer to do (for example sleep!).

We often second guess these investments because of the cost attached to it. As someone told me  a few years ago, you may toss your bread out there, and its eaten by fishes that you never catch! But that is a risk you have to take! No one knows what will happen but you can’t have the wisdom of experience unless you try! How about placing a hook inside the bread so that you get [catch] something for your investment? It’s all about perspective. Fear keeps you from launching out but the bread will eventually become stale and mouldy and less in value. The same thing with some ideas, with time they may lose their relevance or someone else may just have the same idea and step out in faith! Perhaps if its invested wisely, tossed out with careful planning and preparation, who knows what your net and bread will earn you?

In the chapter of Luke where Jesus instructs Simon Peter to let down his nets one more time, Peter had become frustrated because he had tried so many times and failed. Has this happened to you? Have you witnessed so many failures of others that you begin to self sabotage and delay or avoid important steps? Have you engaged in negative self talk that exhaust and demotivate you? Perhaps we need to do some thing that is illustrated in this passage: look to someone who knows more than us (an expert in the field perhaps), see what they have done in the past and also be willing to try again despite the many failures.

” If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again!”

Be open to the process. I know, as someone who’s had several failures, that it is hard to not become discouraged. However, I know, again from experience, that when you have a passion, a dream that seems to be with you at every waking moment, no matter what comes, it’s very difficult to abandon and just give up on the dream. Sometimes, unfortunately, we work less at it and are no longer open to the process as time passes and failures pile up. I keep seeing a picture being circulated on social media of a man hacking away at a wall and just as he is close to breaking through, he walks away. That is sad, because so many of us will be and is that person. We become so exhausted, so broken that we just can’t do it anymore.

How do we know when we are close to breaking through, that success is just around the corner?

Sometimes we just know, something resonates within us, and we have to keep at it. Sometimes it comes so quickly, so absolutely, that we are overwhelmed with surprise because we ‘can’t believe how quickly it happened’, forgetting the many years of struggle and sacrifice. The fact is though, many individuals who end up with successful ventures will say that they really had no idea of when to stop, they just knew that they had to keep trying, even when friends and family stopped believing in the dream.

You may have to go it alone

You have to become radical about your dream – there are some instances when we will have to go it alone, and block out the noise of the crowd in order to see our vision clearly. Not everyone is going to believe or be willing to give it all or nothing as you are. There will be a time in the journey that you will need to close everyone out and just do it, go it alone.

Perhaps that time is now.

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Writing 101: The Promise of Happiness and Social Inequaliy

Inequality of some kind has existed since the dawn of man. Within every society, there exists a group that benefits from the position it holds and which seeks, through social organization, to maintain the status quo.

The maintenance of this status quo, unfortunately, often impinges on one’s opportunity to fully capitalize on the life chances that are given to each of us. The right to an education, the freedom to express religious and socio-political beliefs, to experience culture in its highest form or to enjoy a long, healthy life, in some societies, for those born a female.

It seems as though the promise of happiness is only that: a promise and one must pursue it with zeal. Happiness, in any form, is elusive and fleeting and often comes with immense sacrifice. The fact of social inequality presents an additional hurdle to be surpassed in order to obtain what seems to be a very temporary state.

What often remains unacknowledged is this fragile emotional state often means a loss of life, limb and precious effort that could be better spent.  But can this happiness be obtained without a loss of some kind? It is a question to ponder as successive examples throughout history has shown that happiness and the freedoms that we enjoy, came at a steep price for many who gave their lives to fight for what they believed to be right and just. This, we have evidenced with the French Revolution, the case of the former slaves of the Caribbean plantation society, who rebelled with bloody force to over throw their capturers and the civil rights movement. It is evidenced through the females who give up precious time with their children, in order to provide for them, as a single parent or the soldier who leaves his or her family, in order to protect their personal freedoms and that of others.

This ideal, it seems, cannot exist without sacrifice.

Marxist conjecture posits that society, through its relationship with things material, will have instances of conflict amongst its groups. The ideas held by each group, in pursuit of personal fulfilment, become increasingly incompatible to the point of a social explosion that results in change. The conflict amongst groups is a catalyst for change which must occur if society is to improve. Society is a dynamic force and as the culture, demands and focus of the groups within it change, it adjusts itself to reflect the new paradigms within which it operates.

Change must come. And so we too must change in order to enjoy the happiness we so readily pursue. .