Credit for the Shortcomings

via Al McDonald:

“Although outsiders may consider me a worldly success because of the positions I have held and the titles and responsibilities I have carried, I now more clearly concede that these were truly gifts from above rather than rewards duly earned.

As I look backward with greater understanding, I embrace the biblical verse Isaiah 26:12: “Lord, you establish peace for us; all that we have accomplished, you have done for us.”

Therefore, I can take credit mainly for the many shortcomings and occasional failures that have periodically marked my life’s course.”

I’m still meditating and thinking through my time in St. Louis (it was obviously great!) and have managed to do an internal retrospective of a talk I gave to the students of WashU (another one, besides talking about storytelling and the STAR Technique) – there was one thing that I shared that I have been personally meditating over (meditation is great folks) and that was about how failure and success were exactly the same thing.

More succinctly, failure and success are just points of data in a larger data set. That’s it. You failed? Okay. That’s fine. Add one point to that column or grouping and analyze it. You had a point of success? Great. Add it to the data set, analyze it, understand it.

Sure, it feels a bit sterile and clinical but that’s the point. Success is no better than failure when you see them as relatively the same thing: Points of data to add to the many buckets of data sets that you have in your life.

It’s the best and most objective way to see those things well and without significant downtime or cost. Sure, is it still a bit emotional to lose or fail? Absolutely.

2016-03-20 15.01.05
A tough loss after an undefeated season.

My oldest had to experience this recently when she her team lost in the championship game a week ago – she wasn’t the only one that was upset, a few of them cried, and that’s appropriate, that’s reasonable, that’s good.

But, a bit later, her and I chatted about the loss; there were things to learn, things to consider, and more importantly, it was no better than a win.

It will take time to grasp this concept but hopefully it’ll create a foundation upon which she can stand strongly. My hope is that by objectively looking at both success and failure as similar types of data she’ll be able to move forward in life with courage, resolve, and even more enthusiasm.

Much of life isn’t even about the wins anyway – it’s about the experience, the relationships that we build along the way, and the value that we create for others. Success are gifts and we should see them rightly.

The rest? We can take a bit credit for those if we want. You see, as far as I can tell, every single time a project of mine has failed, regardless of the content, the mission, the strategy, the business… there has been only one common denominator: Me.

I am the most consistent factor in my own failures in life. Painfully true, but objectively so.

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