Redefining Failure

Failure. Google an image for the word and you see some interesting pictures. Men with their heads down in shame, so distraught that they can’t possibly face the world again. You see the word hi-lited in RED as if to warn of impending danger and doom. Stay away! Look up the definition of the word and you’ll see “lack of success” along with synonyms like “defeat” and “collapse”. It goes hand in hand with the images, doesn’t it?

Perhaps your parents taught you at a tender age that failure is not a good thing. Avoid it. Don’t do things that you will fail at. Only do things that you will be successful at. If your parents didn’t send that message (be thankful because many do, completely unintentionally of course), then clearly society has. That is unequivocally proven with the images and definition of the word.

I have a different take on it. I think failure is a good thing. Not always, but many times, it is a wonderful beacon of hope. Why? Because it shows you are trying to get better or to learn something new. You are stretching for something that is not comfortable. If it was comfortable, you wouldn’t fail, right?

Failure is also the most amazing opportunity to learn. You can read books or listen to lectures all day long but it isn’t until you get out and do, that you truly learn how to do something. All the schooling in the world doesn’t fully prepare you for your first full time job. How can it? You don’t get your first full time job until you are out of school and in the real world. By definition, you cannot be in school and in the real world at the same time. Walking in the door for your first day of employment, many things occur, most of which are not taught in school. Get behind a computer, make a telephone call, connect with a customer, become leader of a team—education does not provide comprehensive training for this. Much of the real learning takes place by jumping in. And as you do it more and more, you evolve and make changes and pick up gems here and there. After some time- usually years- you get really good at what you do for a living. Then it’s time to take it to the next level. But make no mistake- to get there, you have had to learn along the way, make adjustments, reach for something that makes you slightly uncomfortable. Chances are- you failed at some point along the way.

Maybe you missed a deadline. Maybe you lost a customer, or made one unhappy. Or failed to turn an unhappy one into a happy one. Or you jumped to a conclusion about a team member that was false and had to eat your words. Perhaps the report you wrote had an error. Or two. Or it was missing some information. You get the point. You absolutely cannot get to a successful place in life….if you have not failed.

I am a great example of a failure. I made under $50,000 a year until my fortieth year. I didn’t graduate college until I was 36. I managed to push my life-long dream of being a writer into the ground in my awkward teenage years, only to procrastinate for several more years after pulling it up from the dirt as a thirty-something. I buried it. But it was not dead. I was once dumped by a girlfriend via a letter (she couldn’t even give a phone call!) because I apparently talked too much at one prior conversation we had. Another broke up with me because she was concerned I “didn’t make enough money and couldn’t buy a ring or a house “. A former employer didn’t find my significant money and time saving contributions, or the overflowing level of respect that its global network had for me, worthy of promotion of even fair market compensation. If you look at it, I was a failure in every sense; from my salary, my education, pursuit of my dream, my relationships, my career progression—you name it, I’ve failed at it.

And I wouldn’t change a thing. I’ve used my college education to help others increase their performance. I write consistently- for this blog, for another that gets more than 40-million page views a year, for my company and most importantly, for me. I married my best friend, who is the perfect woman for me and the mother of our two sweet, beautiful children. (Side note, my wife is a stop- you- in- your- tracks singer and has curly hair, traits of which my daughter, who started to sing before she could talk and son, a super handsome curly haired kid who also loves to sing, took on from her. If I married one of my ex’s, my kids wouldn’t be so darn cute or talented!). I’ve doubled my income and am no longer underpaid or undervalued. In fact, it’s the exact opposite. Faith has been placed in me to lead and perform and I’ve done just that. I’ve coached others to new heights and levels of awareness and opened a curiosity as to what is possible.

You won’t catch me with my head down, clutching my head in agony over failing. When I fail, you’ll see me using it as a learning opportunity. As a chance to grow and step out again into the unknown to take on fear and make myself better than yesterday. I hope I fail again. Often. Because I know if I am failing, I am trying to make myself better and if I am doing that…yet another level of success is coming soon.

It’s all how you perceive the meaning of the word and what you do when you meet an outcome that was not what you desired. Go out and try again- do it differently, better, the next time. With all due respect, I hope you fail!

3 Things Donald Trump Is Absolutely Right About

I am not much into politics these days. I have grown weary of the same old; the blaming and finger pointing and name calling. And the lying. It never stops. But that’s just me and I am not here to discuss politics or express favor to a particular party or candidate.

               The controversial Donald Trump said many things in the Republican debate earlier this month. From reading the news and watching television, it is obvious that some think much of what he says are lies. As in any political debate, many brow raising comments were spit out. As a personal development coach, my ears heard three extremely valuable bits of advice that “The Donald” mentioned that can help you achieve higher levels of success.  Love him or hate him, what he said is truth.


  1. “I’ve never seen a successful person who wasn’t flexible, who didn’t have a certainly degree of flexibility. You have to have a certain degree of flexibility”. Every successful person I know and have ever worked with, including multi-millionaires, entrepreneurs and C-Level executives, has visibly demonstrated flexibility. They know their way is not always the best, that there is value in observing the way that others go about their tasks and tremendous opportunity for improvement in the borrowing and exchanging of ideas. They have the self-awareness to know what their weaknesses are and to understand that intentionally being flexible and open minded opens doors that otherwise would have remained out of view.  To give an analogy—if you want to change your body, you have to change your workout and eating habits. The same applies here—if you want to find success on another level, than you have to think and do things differently. That is the asset known as flexibility.


  2. “You have to be flexible because you learn”. Learning requires that you open yourself to seeing the world through a different lens. It demands that you give conflicting views a fair chance before making a decision. In some cases, it insists that you trust it even in the absence of definitive proof. When we learn, we grow and become better. If what you are doing is not working, then by being flexible you open yourself up to doing things another way and that might be just what you need to get unstuck and ascend to the next level. If you’ve ever known someone stubborn in their ways, someone who steadfastly refuses to change, then you know that person has not realized their authentic value or reached their full potential. That person has not expanded their mind to its fullest capacity. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice or counsel when you are unsure. Don’t be afraid to try something new. But remember to be flexible because it is integral to your success.


  3. “If you’re going to be one way and you think it’s wrong, does that mean that for the rest of your life you have to go in the wrong direction because you don’t want to change”? I thought this line was fantastic. Democrat, Republican or something else on the political spectrum—you can find countless topics to argue and disagree about. This is not one of them. How many people carry around the weight of the labels from their past and define their worth based on it? We all carry baggage around from childhood, from the teasing we experienced in youth, the failed relationships, the disappointment experienced when a well- intentioned endeavor ends in a way other than what we envisioned, the harsh criticism received from a clueless boss. Or from countless other sources. Your past doesn’t hold weight—it doesn’t define who you are right now. It doesn’t define what you can become. People redefine themselves all the time. Every day. People change careers, or become parents, or they overcome addictions and achieve goals that were once distant dreams. All of these major life changes and successes are made possible due to flexibility. Just surviving in this world requires the ability to change. Change requires with flexibility.


    Do yourself a favor, make yourself uncomfortable and be flexible to another view. Take to heart the words he spoke. Donald Trump might not be your choice for President. You may disagree with his style and his political stances and you might not even like the mention of his name. But no matter what the polls say, he is right-- you have to be flexible if you want to be successful and you do have the power to change directions if you are not satisfied with the direction you are headed in life.


Which Life Do You Want to Live?

In Theatre, actors read their lines from a script. Each word they speak is written by someone else. Sure, they may have a little wiggle room to improvise if they forget a word or if the situation calls for it. But for the most part they have a script that they must follow.

In real life- we have the ability to write our own script. Too often, we let our mistakes, the difficulties faced and the labels assigned us by others navigate our course and define our attitude and actions. When that happens, we don’t live the life we want. Much like the actor, we follow the script that others write. We may try to improvise here and there but for the most part, we live a life less than what we truly desire.

In Theatre, we go to enjoy and be entertained. There are minimal or no distractions for the duration. You watch the scenes unfold, one by one, admiring the talent and level of effort that went into bringing it all together. You get caught in a dream like world, which is the essence of theatre.

In real life, you want to be entertained and enjoy, but find yourself dodging distractions on an everyday basis. It’s easy to watch life pass you by. You know deep down that you have great talent but the thought of putting in the effort to extract it is daunting. It’s easier to enter a dream like world, hoping that one day things will go your way, fantasizing about the life of freedom that you deeply desire. Dreaming, imagining, hoping without taking action, that is the essence of fantasy.

In theatre, when the curtains drop, the show is over. You stand and clap and cheer, then get in your car and drive home. Or maybe you go out for dinner and drinks, where you talk about how wonderful (or awful) the show was. You might even make plans to go see another in the near future. The actors may do the same. They can take themselves out of character and return to their normal self. They can audition for another part that they want to play, then can reinvent themselves all over again on another stage when the next show starts.

In real life, when the coffin closes, the show is over. People stand up and cry. At your funeral. Then they get in their car and drive home. Or maybe go out for dinner and drinks, where they talk about what a wonderful (or awful) person you were. You won’t ever make plans. Again. At least not on this earth and not in your earthly body. You don’t get another chance to audition for another life. You don't get another single day. You can’t reinvent yourself- that chance passed and you opted not to take it. You willingly opted not to take it.

How do you want to live your life- by your past? By how others define you? By the obstacles you’ve faced? Or are you ready to redefine yourself, starting right now? In real life, you don’t get another chance at another character to play but you do get the chance to write your own script. You have the power to choose which life you want to live; that of a spectator. Or that of a creator.





       I’m amazed to realize that we are already nearly one quarter of the way through the year. Research reveals something even more amazing — 36 percent of Americans who made a New Year’s Resolution have already given up on it. That number jumps to 54 percent in the next sixty days. Simply put- most people have the best of intentions but never achieve what they set out to achieve. Most people quit very early on, never giving their dreams a fair chance to become reality. That is very sad.

Do you want to be a part of that group? Do you want to be a statistic of unfulfilled aspirations? Do you want to look back with regret filled thoughts of “What if?” If you have not quit yet, keep going and use the following to help you achieve the things you truly want in life! If you have given up, do not beat yourself up. That only makes it worse. Instead, take action. Try something different. You can treat today as January 1st and renew your resolution and commitment to follow through. Can you think of one good reason why today is not a good day to start bettering yourself and creating the life you want? If you are one of the soon to be 54 percent of poor souls who have abandoned their resolutions, realize that you can get right back to it. Today. Right now.

Here are three tips to help you keep you on track:

1) Start small

Make one change at a time and increase the chances of success exponentially. When I am coaching using cognitive behavioral techniques, this is key to achieving success. For example, if someone wants to overcome a fear of flying, the first step of the approach to help them accomplish this is to first drive by the airport. That’s it. Step two is to watch planes take off and land. Step three is to go into the airport and just observe. The fourth step might be to take a walk through an airplane (if possible) or to watch videos of planes in all stages of flight. Doing this visualization exercise helps one “feel” what it is like to be on a plane. The final step is to get on a plane and take a short flight (and utilize breathing and calming techniques). But as you can see, this is intentionally done in small increments so conditions are primed for success.

2) Do not be hard on yourself

This one is important because people who have difficulty setting and achieving goals have a tendency to be hard on themselves. If you have a setback, remember it happens to everyone at some point. And your past is not an indicator of what you are capable of doing right here and now. Rather than feeling guilty, admit to yourself that you got off track and then utilize positive self -talk. Tell yourself that you have the ability to get right back on track IF you choose.

3) Get it on paper

This applies two-fold. It is always smart to write down your goals. Psychologists found that people who work at and make consistent progress towards goals live happier and more fulfilling lives than people who don’t. The additional benefit of writing it down manifests when you find yourself struggling. Simply writing down your past successes can help you regain confidence. Surely you have accomplished something meaningful—a solid relationship, a college education, a promotion at work, a compliment someone gave you after you helped them. Write it down and use it as fuel. You’ve been there already. You can do this!

The choice really is yours. You can choose to carry around the weight of disappointment and the knowing that you gave up. If you do, chances are you’ll start yet another resolution next year and repeat the process of stopping before mission accomplished. And this can happen year after year after year. Or you can choose to start again right now, knowing that even though you faltered a step or two, you did not fail because you have the courage and resourcefulness to get back on track whenever the moment is right for you.

No date on a calendar can dictate such powerful self-awareness. Working at it, not just wishing for it will get you there. Do this and you will accomplish what only eight percent of Americans accomplish — seeing your resolution through to the end. Now that is a group that you should want to be a part of!