Archives for posts with tag: failure

I like asking questions, discussion, sharing ideas and different perspectives. I’m curious. I love having my mind blown.

Something I’ve always been curious about is how people get to where they are, why things happen the way they do. Why does life play out the way it does?

In high school I recognized a certain number of students deemed to “succeed” and those who would “fail”, and of course the majority who fell into the moderately average category. As time passed after high school, there seemed to be some truth in the idea, but also strong evidence that said the original hypothesis was flawed.

I pondered, why and how. Was it goals? Luck? Planning? Money? Support? Intelligence? Courage? A perfect combination? What? After all…

A friend who was on the successful list hit a road block, put on the breaks and stayed stuck indefinitely. The head shaking moment.

Another friend who was put on the failure list put one foot in front of the other and did well in health care. That jaw dropping moment.

A third friend considered average also hit a road block; they paused, reset and went on to succeed. That head nodding moment.

Go figure. What was different? I was still pondering.

I think many things and experiences shape us, preparing us to face the challenges we encounter. The ability to connect the dots in life seems to be a key element to success.

It’s one thing to be in the right place at the right time, but what happens if you don’t realize you’re even there, or what time it is?

You can have everything you need to succeed, but what if you don’t realize it’s exactly what you need?

This week I was reminded about connecting the dots as I read Knocking On Heaven’s Door by best selling author Lisa Randall.

You probably remember Galileo at least being mentioned in science class and you can probably list at least one of his achievements. However, you may not have learned before Galileo became known for his mind changing scientific insights, he studied art.  Yes. Art, not science, not math. Art.

Galileo’s invention of the telescope turned science on it’s ear. His detailed observations using this new instrument showed amazingly that the universe didn’t actually revolve around the Earth. Galileo also observed the Moon was not the smooth perfect sphere that was believed at the time.

In her book, Randall recounts her discussion with art historian Joseph Koerner who explained, “Galileo could use light and shadows to identify craters in part because of his artistic background. Galileo’s perspectival training helped him understand the projections he saw…He wasn’t interested in mapping the Moon, but in understanding it’s texture. And he understood right away what he saw.”

I rather doubt that anyone, even Galileo himself knew the importance his art background would one day prove to be as he passionately pursued his quest for knowledge and understanding.

As I read the passage I was reminded of Steve Jobs Commencement Address, ‘You’ve Got To Find What You Love,’ to the 2005 graduating class of Stanford University. Steve Jobs, of course, was CEO of Apple Computer and of Pixar Animation Studios.

Jobs spoke about having dropped out of college and taking a calligraphy class at Reed College simply because he admired how beautifully hand calligraphed everything around the campus was.

“I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and sans serif typefaces…about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can’t capture, and I found it fascinating.

None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But 10 years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backward 10 years later.


So here’s what I really realized. As Steve Jobs and Galileo demonstrated, connecting the dots doesn’t happen when we are looking ahead, most often it happens when we look back.

So sometimes it’s ok to not know for sure, to be uncertain, to be curious, to try things out just because. It really is. It’s important while we have a direction, not to be so focused on the path that we miss everything along the way that just might prove useful down the path we are travelling.

Because everything we do becomes a skill, talent, wisdom, it becomes something in our arsenal and you never know when that whatchamacallit will be exactly what we need when we open our kit and gratefully pull it out.  All of a sudden we connect the dots and we get it. We relish in that private knowing smile that sometimes even the things that didn’t seem to have a real purpose are exactly what we need to get us to where we’re going, to keep us on our path. Like all good things, we just need to recognize the right time to use them.

Eyes Open.

Mind Open.

Heart Open.

Arsenal Ready.

Connecting The Dots.

©2017 JFries/Rise Like Air


I’ve been doing extensive reading about how our beliefs affect our thoughts which affect our outlook on life which affect our perception of our experience. It’s not only interesting but has the potential to create the change in mental health treatment globally that is so desperately needed, but that’s another topic.

In “My Happiness Project” Gretchen Rubin says, “It takes at least five positive marital actions to offset one critical or destructive action, so one way to strengthen a marriage is to make sure the positive far outweighs the negative. When a couples interactions are usually loving and kind, it’s much easier to disregard the occasional unpleasant exchange.”

Wow, if that doesn’t say something about the power of actions and words and what we do with them.

In the TED talk, “Getting Stuck In The Negatives (And How To Get Unstuck) Alison Ledgerwood’s research found that negative information trumps positive information given to us regardless of which information is given first. Failures stick with us longer than our successes.  Positive versus negative framing matters. (10 minutes)

My good friend Debbie Hyde wisely reminds me regularly, “We all have a choice. We can let go of what we don’t need. Or we can hang on and be dragged.” She believes this so strongly that she wrote a fantastic book about it (yes, free plug, my blog, I can do that. Trust me, I personally think the book is really well worth reading.) You can check it out here.


The last while letting go has been on my mind a lot. I’ve got too much clutter of all sorts in my life and at some point you have to do something about it or keep tripping over it.  As always, when you need something, I’m a firm believer it shows up. Although I’ll be the first to admit that I get anxious and doubt my own wisdom about that when I happen to be the one having to patiently wait. Human. Masterpiece and a work in progress. Yep, that’s me. What happened was a brief piece that came across one of my feeds. What caught my eye was the phrase let it go. As I scanned it  a technique to “let go” intrigued me.

  • Simply tear up pieces of paper.
  • On each piece write something you are willing to let go. For example: anger, hate, jealousy, judgement, labels, neediness, chasing people, self harm, my job. You get the picture.
  • Light a fire (nice, piece it emphasized safety first. The internet isn’t all bad)
  • Put a slip of paper into the fire one at a time as you say “I release -fill in the blank- because -reason why-.

I added the reason why part. It came to me as I was throwing my first piece. “I willingly and happily release anger because it hurts everyone.”

Heck it was garbage burning day anyway so why not. It seemed appropriate to throw what I wanted to let go of into a fire fuelled already by things that were being let go of. My son can thank me later for doing one of his chores. I’m a nice mom some of the time.

My envelope was filled with slips of paper. It took me a while in the peace of a beautiful morning to complete what I had set out to do, to let go. When the last piece had curled into white ash I said, “I let go of all that does not serve or is harmful to allow for the space to embrace all that does and is helpful.” I was actually very surprised at how light and peaceful I felt when I was done, even if I smelled more than a little smokey.

I’m glad I saw that little blurb the other day. My son should be too since it got him out of a chore. I think I’ll do it more often, maybe even make it a habit. Maybe it’s one of those things that’s supposed to fill up that space I just made.

©2016 JFries/Rise Like Air

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Failure.  It can be the end, or it can be the catalyst for a new beginning.  It’s all in how you look at it and most importantly how you deal with it.

A great article on the Huffington Post called How to Bounce Back From Failure – Over and Over Again by Carolyn Gregoire holds some gems of advice.

What do you think the opposite of depression is?  Was your first thought happiness?  Psychologist Peter Kramer says its actually resilience.  People who get out of bad situations and who are depressed most often share the trait of resilience.
re·sil·ient adjective
 1.(of a substance or object) able to recoil or spring back into shape after bending, stretching, or being compressed.  synonyms:  flexible, pliable supple.

Carolyn Gregoire quotes Winston Churchill

It is the courage to continue that counts.”

Gregoire goes on to describe seven habits of resilient people.  Really well worth the read in detail but here’s a bit of a summary.

Resilient people allow themselves to feel all their emotions whether the emotions are negative or positive.  Feeling them allows you to work through them and use them. This enables them to see both the positive and the negative without being overwhelmed by either.

My favourite is that “They’re realistically optimistic“.  I love that .  Optimism doesn’t have to mean being unrealistic – you can still be positive allowing yourself to see choices and make plans, be flexible.

They don’t fall into the rejection trap.  Elaine Dundon says, “Rejection steals our joy.”  It wears us down and makes it harder for us to get back up and try again.

Having strong support systems helps resilient people get back up and move forward.

They recognize the importance and value of and appreciate small and positive things.  It keeps them positive and willing to try again and again.

Resilient people don’t wait for opportunities to come to them.  They go out and find them!  Something like that old ’80’s catch phrase of being proactive instead of reactive.

Resilient people also have a great tendency towards gratitude.  They are not the bah-hum-bug types.  They’re thankful for the little things and the big things, the obvious and the not so obvious.  It sets the tone for what they do.

Most of us tend to exercise our muscles and our minds on a regular basis, well, at least once in awhile.  It might not be a bad idea to exercise our resilience too.  It just might be that catalyst to get you through the next failure and turn it into a resounding success.  Happy exercising.

© 2014 J Fries/Rise Like Air  all rights reserved

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