I’m an Expert Failure

I’m an expert failure.

There’s no way around it.  I’ve failed at so many things that it’s almost depressing.

Maybe you’re like me and you just feel like you can’t ever quite seem to get over the hump.  Success is always just right within arms reach but it’s just a bit too far off, or too fuzzy to make out.

Maybe you’re even more like me and success isn’t even around the corner.  You’ve failed so hard that you aren’t even sure which way is up anymore.  Success isn’t even on the horizon.  You’d just be thrilled with survival.

Everybody likes to talk about how Thomas Edison invented some katrillion ways to not make a light bulb and then they like to tell us that success is for the people that didn’t give up.  I really want to believe them but sometimes I’m just not feeling it.

I know a lot about failure though.  I could seriously get tenure at a major university if they needed a professor of failure.  I know how to fail at blogging, business, ministry, dating, marriage, parenting,  divorce, divorced parenting, divorced dating… Shoot I even know how to fail at little stuff like making mac ‘n cheeze. (You may not have thought that was possible but I am here to tell you that it is.)

I’ve come to believe though, that everybody fails just as often, and just as hard as I do.  It’s just only us brave folks that admit how often we fail.  Too many people out there are trying to hide their failures and to be honest, I’ve tried to hide mine too but it’s just way too much work.  My goal for tomorrow is to fail abysmally at hiding my failures.  I’m going to be honest and maybe, just maybe, if I start failing at hiding my failures I can start failing at failing.

Take your time….

… And now you’ve got it.

Who’s down to join me.  Lets start failing on purpose because Edison was right.  Failure is just knowledge of how not to do something.  The more knowledge we gain about failure the closer we come to finding the nuggets of non-failure.

Advertisements

What are you missing when you are stressing

One of my favorite movies growing up was an indie film called Extreme Days.  It’s a corny Christian attempt at the road trip comedy genre with some extreme sports scenes scattered throughout to keep it interesting.

I loved it.  It was quotable, it was clean, and I had a huge crush on Jessie (Cassidy Rae).

I remember playing spoons with friends who hadn’t seen the movie and then showing them the spoons scene.  It was awesome.  My friends and I still quote Extreme Days almost 15 years later.

One of the best lines in the movie is a narration by Will.  As you watch their convertible Joyota drive through the mountains after a rainstorm that has left them all drenched and freezing he says this:

“We had some random things happen to us; some good, some bad, some u can’t explain, some u don’t want to, but one thing we did learn for sure…when God throws a curveball…don’t duck…u just might miss something.”

In the past two weeks I’ve had more curveballs than I know what to do with.  My Dad got an awesome promotion that is taking him to Texas which means the timeline for me to find my own place just shrunk drastically.

I thought I found a house, and got pretty stoked, only to get outbid.

My daughter, who is only 4 1/2 had to get a root canal on the day of her first ballet recital two weeks before her new dental coverage kicks in.

And that’s just been the big stuff.  It’s been crazy!

I’m doing a wedding this weekend and traveling to speak at a church in Ajo next weekend.  My schedule is filling up fast and my stress level is following suite.

All weekend I’ve been stressing out about houses and schedules and finances and my gut instinct has been to binge watch How I met your Mother on Netflix.

I sat down this morning to face the dreaded blank page, having not written anything in two weeks and realized that I’ve been ducking curveballs all weekend.

Curveballs are scary.  They start out coming right at your head and the only thing you can think is “BAIL OUT!!!!”   I tend to retreat into myself and pretend like the “stuff” that is happening, isn’t.  I binge watch netflix or zone out playing spider solitaire all in an effort to “decompress” but as soon as the episode is over or I realize that there are no longer any productive moves which means the ipad has bested me again… the stress comes back.

When you duck a curveball, that doesn’t stop you from having to stand in the box and get ready for the next pitch and to follow the metaphor all the way through, if you duck too many curveballs, chances are you strike out.

My encouragement to you, and challenge to myself, this week is to stand in there.  Duck your shoulder, pause for a split second to give that curveball time to dive into the zone and then swing for the fence and celebrate as the old time announcer screams “It’s got the distance… And YOU…. CAN…. KISS….. IT….. GOODBYE!!!!!!!!!!”

 

Photo by Carl Jones

From Flickr User Cristian

Everyone likes you but you are desperately lonely and here’s why.

I’ve always been a pretty laid back guy.  Ask my friends.  I’m annoyingly laid back.  Like I’m so down for whatever that it’s sometimes tough to be around me.

A couple years ago, I was transitioning out of one job and into another and asked one of my mentors to kind of give me an overall eval.  Exit Interview.  What were my strengths while at that job, what were my weaknesses?

It’s tough to ask someone to evaluate your competence and character but I’m down for whatever so I asked.

His response…

“You let people walk on you and you never stand up for yourself.”

I was blown away.  It seemed like pretty harsh criticism coming from a guy that was one of my best advocates.  My first reaction was to casually defend myself in my own mind.  See that’s what I do.  I defend myself… to myself.  Which is exactly what he had just identified was the problem.

I’m so frieking laid back that I never fight anybody, on anything.  I just take it in stride.  I roll with the punches but I constantly forget one very important thing.

If all you do is role with the punches you’re gonna get knocked the heck out.

A couple years later, a different mentor of mine, helped me work through this flaw with this simple phrase.  He’d look me in the eye and say “You are a grown-ass man.”

This became his catchphrase for me and it was his subtle and humorous way of empowering me to fight back.  Throw a punch occasionally.  Stand up for myself.

Some of you may have my problem.  You fight too infrequently for far too little.  What you’ll find, is what I found.  A lot of people like you, but not many people know you.  You are the stranger, trapped and desperately lonely in the middle of a crowd.

But here’s the cold hard truth, like a stiff jab right between the eyes.  It’s not the crowd’s fault.  It’s yours.

Others of you have the opposite problem.  You fight so often, for so much that your arms are like limp noodles.  You’re like the guy at the gym that’s always hogging the heavy bag.  Unfortunately you probably also tend to practice on your friends and what you’ve  found is that though people know you really well… not very many of them like you.

You’re lonliness comes from a completely different place.  You push people away because you just can’t let the little things go.

This whole blog is obviously way over simplified but I hope you see my meaning.  Life is about balance.  If all we do is duck and dodge, we never win anything and the bad guys just keep coming.  But if we are always fighting, we are also always creating enemies.

To those of you who are like me, it’s time to stand up and be counted.  Work on that haymaker punch and make it count.  We’ve spent so much time choosing out battles that we’ve never actually stepped into the ring and touched gloves.   No time like the present.

And those of you with a sick left jab and right upper cut.  Maybe it’s time to step away from the heavy bag and give us roll-with-the-punchers a turn.  We know that you could take us, and we’d probably let you, but maybe, I don’t know, just let us have this one.

Don’t forget to like, and share.  Heck a comment wouldn’t hurt either.  Thanks so much. 

Photo by Cristian see it here.

How to make Alexander the Great give you anything you want.

So I like stories.  I’ve talked about that a bit.  Okay a lot.

But Legends are even cooler.

Legends are stories that told so well and for so long that they transcended the medium of story and we had to make up a new word to classify them.

Legends.

I found a particularly interesting legend while I was reading today.  Hope you like it.

Painting of Diogenes and Alexander

Painting of Diogenes and Alexander

“According to legend, Diogenes slept in a tub in the open air, carried food in a wallet and was not ashamed to beg alms.  Even his begging was unconventional. “My friend,” he once said to a miserly man who was slow to respond, “it’s for food I want, not funeral expenses.”

On another occasion he was found begging alms of a statue, “in order,” he said, “to get practice in being refused.” 

By the time Alexander had ascended the throne of Macedon, the fame of Diogenes, then some seventy years old, had spread throughout Greece.  One day, as the old philosopher lay sunning himself in his tub, Alexander rode up with his retinue.  Drawing rein in front of the tub, he announced: “I am Alexander the Great.” 
“And I,” replied the other composedly, “am Diogenes the Dog.”

“Are you not afraid of me?”  Alexander asked. 

“Why, what are you, something good or something evil?”

“Something good, of course.”

“Well,” retorted Diogenes, “Who would be so foolish as to fear anything good?”

Struck with admiration for this answer, Alexander exclaimed, “Ask anything you wish of me, and I will grant it.”

“Then be so kind,” said Diogenes, “as to get out of my sunlight.””

Diogenes was a contemporary of Plato and as a Philosopher, barely contributed anything positive to humanity, though he is well known for giving people the finger.

He spent most of his time as a philosopher begging for money and finding holes in the philosophies of others.  While Diogenes is far from a role model, there are at least 3 things that we can learn from this story.


 

1. Confidence

 

I mean lets be honest, the balls on this guy…

WOW!!!

I wish I were so bold.

Diogenes, at least according to legend, carries this air of confidence in himself that is pretty profound.

“Great to meet you.  Alexander the Great was it?  I am Diogenes the dog and no I’m not afraid of you but could you take a step to your right bro, you’re blocking the rays.”


 

 2. Humility

When humility is paired with confidence, leadership is born.

One of my fears as an author and business owner is that when I talk about my business I’ll sound arrogant and turn people off.

Diogenes is humble, at least in this story. He’s even polite.  He’s simple and the man knows what he wants.  He’s found a way to balance this simple humility with a confident and determination that causes Alexander to offer him anything he wants.

Sure his lifestyle choices are a bit odd but he’s content with them so quit judging.

His confidence doesn’t come across as arrogant because he balances the confidence with humility. 


 

 3. Don’t fear the good stuff

“Who would be so foolish as to fear anything good?” 

What a profound question.

As a questions so why is it so hard to answer?  We fear good things all the time.  We fear taking the next step in a relationship even when it’s a good one.

We fear moving toward our dreams.  Sometimes we fear that our dreams might fail which I get but we also fear that they might succeed, and that it might change everything. 


 

My encouragement to you this Friday is to learn from Diogenes the Dog and quit fearing good things. 

Diogenes, while sitting in a bath tub in front of Alexander the Great, was confident, he was humble, and he wasn’t afraid of something good.

Don’t forget to like, comment, and subscribe.  Thanks so much for reading.

 

*The Legend of Diogenes was originally written by Will Durant in a book titled “The Mentions of Philosophy” in 1929 but I found it while reading a book called “The Making of a Martial Artist” by Sang Kyu Shim.

I was brave right before I chickened out

So John Acuff  was in town this past week to speak at a Do-Over-3D-bookshot-with-spineconference.  If you don’t know who he is, you should look him up.  I’ve been part of his 30 days of hustle Facebook group for about 6 months now and it’s really been cool to learn from him and the other hustlers in the group.

If his name sounds familiar but you aren’t sure he wrote a book and a blog called, “Stuff Christians Like”.  He’s also written several other books.  “Do over” is his latest and I’ve got a pre-order copy, and it’s fantastic.  You can still pre-order your copy, which comes with bonus gifts at acuff.me but don’t wait cause I think monday is the last day you can order and get the perks.

Anyway, He was in town to speak at some conference so he posted on his twitter that he was going to be in Phoenix and that people should come eat barbecue and hang out… so I did.

Do-Over-Club-Phoenix-e1427938237923 He actually wrote about it on his blog  and posted a picture  of me… Okay It’s a group shot with everybody but you can see my head in the back if you zoom in.

The evite, was a bit shady and I didn’t know for sure how many people would be there, or if I would even fit in.  I was slightly terrified that it was a meeting for professional speakers and authors and I would be a very small fish in a very big pond but I took the small step of courage and went anyway.

(PS Gilbert is not the same as Phoenix @JonAcuff)

Anyway, there were about 50 people there so it was small enough that you could meet people and network a little bit.  I met a really awesome entrepreneur that I’m hopefully going to feature soon when I launch  #InterviewingAwesome.  More about that below.

I also got to meet John, which was a whole new level of cool.  I don’t usually get super excited to meet authors or famous people.  But Jon’s excitement rubbed off on me.  He is excited about what he’s doing and he’s telling people about it. 

He only spoke for about 15 minutes and just shared some things that he’s been working on but then he asked people to stand up and say their name and what they are hustling on. It was really cool. 

I “didn’t get a chance” to share my hustle at Joes Real Barbecue in Gilbert, which is code for “I chickened out” so I’m going to take the chance here.

My name is Andrew and I am a Business Owner.  I’m working at a church right now, and I love it, but I’m also starting a business on the side.

The business is called Novel Consulting and though we have tons of plans for where we want to go, our focus right now is story driven life coaching.  We believe that all people have and are a story but we also understand that the way you tell that story shapes the way the world sees you and more importantly, the way that you see you.

We just got our first client this week, which is super exciting and I’m frieking pumped.

I’m also a blogger and an author.  My blog is actually pretty good.  I don’t say that to pat myself on the back but more to say that I’m really proud of the work that I’ve done on it.   I mean I enjoy reading it, so I hope other people enjoy it too but I write just as much for me as for the people reading it.

Right now I’m really excited about a series of blogs that I’m calling Interviewing Awesome.  The basic idea, is that I am going to pick people that I find inspiring and interview them, ask them about their life and their business.  My hope is that the interviews with inspiring people will not only encourage my readers but give me a chance to support awesome people as they work towards their awesome goals.  Win!  Win!  Win!!  I already have one interview that is done and scheduled to post on Friday the 10th so check back then to meet Ashley Frank, but I have two more interviews that are in the works and my goal is to do at least one a month.  Hopefully more.

I’m also currently working on a book.  I’ve had a dream to write a book since High School and it’s finally happening.

The book idea, at least right now, is “mentorship made easy”.  My idea is to write something that will give an average person the tools and inspiration to either find or become a mentor.  Ideally, both.

Whew! Okay those are my goals.  They are now out there.  Read Jon’s blog so that you can hear him explain how important voicing your goals is.  The hardest part of bravery is not doing something brave.  It’s telling people that you did something brave.  

Let me know in the coments what you are doing that is brave.  Who knows, maybe I’ll be Interviewing your Awesome soon.  

How to actually let go and move on

This post is part 2 of “I wish I could hate you”If you missed that post you can find it here.

 

There’s an old proverb that says “Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t”. 

This proverb was, I’m assuming, designed to help minimize risk.  I can see it being advantageous in military or business endeavors.  Maybe even in sports.  In those situations knowledge of your enemy or competition is key. It makes sense to say that having an enemy you know, is better than having and enemy that you don’t know.

I thought the phrase was interesting, and I’m a nerd so I spent some time trying to find the origin of the phrase and something kidna sad emerged.  Like any old phrase it has been misquoted and distorted over time but the most common modification that I found completely changed the entire meaning of the phrase.

The most common misquotation goes something like this: “Better to have something bad but known, than something (that could turn out to be good) but is (currently) unknown.”  How sad is that.

We’d rather settle for familiar garbage than pursue spectacular dreams.

Our fear of the unknown imprisons us to the negative impact of the known.

When we hold on to things, ideas, or people; what we are actually doing is giving those things control in our life.  We are telling those things that they get to decide the scope and range of our options.

So what would happen in your life if you let go of the devil you knew and pursued the angel that you didn’t?

Maybe your devil is a person but maybe it’s just the idea of a person that you can’t seem to shake.  Maybe your devil is a job that you have but don’t like.  Maybe it’s the car that you’re driving that keeps breaking down.  Maybe it’s the gym that you go to but always leave feeling crappy after working out with a bunch of muscle-bound meat heads surrounded by botoxed-Barbie dolls.

(I hate gyms but kind of like alliteration, can you tell?)

Whatever you’re devil is, it’s time to let go.letting-go

Here’s one way to start.  Take out a piece of paper and write down your devil on that page up at the top.  Once you’ve done that make a list of things that YOU can do to let go of, and remove that devil from your life.  Notice that I capitalized YOU.  The only person that can make a change is you. 

Often we think of letting go as a passive action but that is why we never ACTIVELY let go.  Letting go is an action and we must act in order for the action to take place.  Your fingers and arms (and probably your mind and emotions) must move away from the object that you are holding and then in many cases they must actively push that thing away.

Now, Listen closely because this is where people mess up.  (Ask me how I know.)

Once our hands have done the action of letting go, we leave them open and they just kind of sit there.  But unlike objects at rest that tend to stay at rest, hands that open tend to close.  If we don’t push away the devil and then close our hand around something that is positive, our hands get bored and tend to reach back out and pick up the very thing that we set out to let go of.

The best way that I have found to successfully let go of devils (aka addictions or vises) is to fill my hands back up once I’ve emptied them with positive habits.

Don’t just let go of laziness, grab on to a day planner.  Don’t just let go of a bad relationship, fill your life with positive ones.  Don’t just let go of an addiction, build positive habits.

I’d love to hear about the devils that you are letting go of but what is more important is the angels that you are picking up.  Let me know in the comments.

I Wish I Could Hate You

I love poetry but don’t really like many poems. More on that later.

I did go through a poem writing phase in high school though. Who didn’t?

Most of them are garbage but I ran across one today while going through an old file that isn’t half bad.

It was inspired, like all good High School poetry is, by a girl who broke my heart.

Wish

I wish I could hate you, You broke my heart
I wish I could be mad at you 
For ripping my world apart
I wish I could ignore you, Forget you existed
I wish that it wasn’t but it is
And I’m pissed
I wish I could hate you, But I can’t let go inside
I wish I could run away 
Bring my pride, leave your side

I hate that I can’t hate you, I want to so bad
I hate that I can’t forget you 
Can’t get you out of my head
I hate that I can’t give up on you, My dumb ass keeps trying
I hate these damn tears 
But here I am crying
I hate settling for non-answers, I just want to know
I hate that I don’t hate you 
and that I can’t let you go

I struggled to move on from that heart break for a long time.  Mostly because it’s hard to process getting your heart broken, especially for the first time, but a lot because I just couldn’t let go.  Not being able to let go really hindered my ability to move on and grow as a person.

Looking back at my life I can unfortunately see a bit of a pattern. Holding on to things that should be let go of is a problem for me, and I think it’s a problem for most people.

Think about it.  We stay in abusive relationships.  We keep our closets stocked with clothes that don’t fit us and aren’t in style.  We look back and try incessantly to “re-live the glory days”.  We keep insane amounts of clutter.  We feed our habits and addictions when we know that feeding them only further imprisons us.

Why do we do this?

I think that one of the main reasons is fear. Fear of change, or fear of the unknown.

                               (Check out this post that I wrote about facing fears titled “Pee into the Wind”.)

While fear is a huge part of why we don’t let go, I think that it goes deeper.

The mistake that I’ve made for much of my life is that I try to diagnose myself logically when I should diagnose myself emotionally.

It didn’t make logical sense for me to still be in love with a girl that had led me on and then broken my heart, but it made perfect sense emotionally.  I was in love.

With hindsight being 20/20 and then adding what I hope is a bit of maturity, I can say that I was really only inlove with the idea of her.  But that idea was a happy, pretty, emotionally awesome thing to be in love with.  I didn’t want to let that go.

Now some things, are worth being held on to, but maybe today would be a good time to evaluate your life and ask yourself, “Am I holding on to something that is keeping me from achieving my goals?”

Maybe you are holding on to an overly idealized self-image, or a subconscious value that you no longer actually hold.  Maybe like High School Andrew, you are holding on to the idea of someone else and that ideal is making it harder for you to know them as they actually are.

Let me know what things you are holding on to in the comments and check back next week for a post all about how to actually let go.