The Evolution of Failure – do it early

Part 1- Understanding

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I recently watched a video clip on success featuring Will Smith, and it led me to a slightly longer Denzel Washington (he is an amazing speaker) clip.  Dazzled by the content I found myself wanting to blog about it, and my reaction once in words started to grow until it was obvious the word count would get out of control.  Off course it did because the more I looked into things the more I realised how well it fitted with the topics I have been pursuing lately.

I have spoken about consistency and confidence, and the need to celebrate the little things along the path to success (the three Cs). Those things are hugely important but I have begun to understand viewing success itself from a slightly different angle, can also contribute strongly to the actual success coming into being. The video clip brought certain questions to mind.  Are you, like me, working hard at your craft or profession (including parenting, physical activities and normal everyday life) and still find yourself feeling flat?

Are results elusive even with all that time and effort you invest? What about those three ‘Cs”?  You have them down pact but without downplaying their importance, they don’t appear enough. What is missing because the word fail rears its ugly head on a regular basis? The strange truth is that to really succeed we apparently need to fail and fail in a certain order. We need to – well, let’s let Will say it for us.

  1. Fail

Do it early.

  1. Fail

Do it often

  1. Fail

Do it forward

At first it seemed almost a negative concept and far from conducive to doing well. It wasn’t until I watched both video clips a few times that I got it. Denzel’s clip is a little more involved and more suited to Part 2 when we look at failing often. For now it’s enough to accept failure needs to happen. At the beginning of any venture we are all so enthusiastic that the thought of failure is not palatable. We don’t give it value because we don’t see the value yet getting it wrong is an education into what not to do, a way into getting it right.

Venturing into new areas that matter to us can be compared to being given an elephant to eat. We need to understand there is a lot of elephant to get through, and that elephant hide is tough. To get through it we need to attack with one small bite at a time. (Why do we use elephants in this expression? Does anyone know? Elephants are such magnificent creatures that it seems obscene. Why not a tree trunk?) Anyway the point is that it’s logical for a newbie to find it hard and get it wrong.  We don’t know enough.

When I made the decision to self-publish I began a journey where getting it wrong was an essential part of the trip, or so I came to discover. No matter the strength of your desire there are potholes even on the best roads, and those potholes are deadly. But, what if we need to get it wrong in order to get it right? Failing early might just make sense. For me, affording editing has been a huge problem. Giving up was out of the question; learning to do it myself a reasonable solution. So, that’s what I did and of course I missed things. It’s impossible not to in your own work. I guess I failed early.

I worked harder. I did another edit. The results were better, not perfect so another early fail. I re-edited. It improved. Failing early provides some useful insights into the process we are involved in. This is a plus, right? We can probably stop at this level and appreciate finding a comfort zone. It’s still success, isn’t it?  As individuals we have the right to choose what we do but we need to know why we are doing what we do. Do we fancy the comfort zone because we are afraid to fail again? Are we willing to give up our dreams to avoid failing again? Is there more to this? Is it fear of failing again, or of failing again and again? But haven’t we done so already? And, aren’t we still here to tell the tale?

Stay tuned for Part 2.

Barb

Modesty, the 5% golden rule (and the 3 Cs)

celebration runThis is the third and last post in my consistency, confidence and celebration series.

I am a complete technological failure. I know I have said this previously and considering the fact I do have social media and run a blog and have a website you probably think I exaggerate.  Trust me I don’t. What I get right one day I basically stuff up the next. How is that possible? Good question. It’s simple. There is no good reason. I am good at some things and bad at others, and sometimes I manage the reverse.

When forced into situations I can push myself and achieve what is needed but then it goes straight out of my head and panic sets in while I try to figure out how I did it and if I can do it again. We can’t be good at all things even those things necessary to our profession, and I’m thinking age has also a lot to answer for as well. Age, and perhaps a residual bit of fear, tucked away in the mind that goes hand in hand with putting yourself out there. Sure you can be brave enough to do it but that doesn’t mean you stop being afraid.

Sarah Raplee in a post I read the other day says that sometimes she is surprised at how much we don’t put into practice.  We know things, we understand them intellectually and even emotionally and yet we don’t really take them on board. The theory here for writers being that modesty gets in the way. Working with media, particularly in a competitive field seems too much like saying look at me, support me, and the dreaded implied, buy my product because it’s good. I don’t just mean books. This way of feeling is pretty much universal.

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Like Sarah I am thinking our inability to accept we are, dare I say it, good enough is the culprit causing cringe worthy moments and impacting negatively on our lives. I do discuss my novel in my posts. I do hint at the fact purchasing my book would be most welcome but ask outright for help in any shape or form – no, it terrifies me. Yet I sit at the computer and work on my second novel. I sit on my computer and blog. It all seems perversely contradictory. No wonder I am confused. To do what I do (the authoring and in this I also include the blogging), heck, to even sit at the computer, has to mean I think I have talent, even a tiny minute amount. (EEEWWWWWWWWW!  What an incredibly huge cringing moment instead of a celebration).

Asking for help feels immodest, asking for others to believe in the things you care passionately about feels uncomfortable. The irony is that you are not thinking in terms of comparison to others. You are just doing the best you can do. Shouldn’t that be something to celebrate?

The use of the term celebrate (I mentioned this in my last post) brings up something else that I also find ironic. I have not really celebrated what I have done so far because I have been afraid to. More irony, because telling people is not the same as celebrating, is it? Perhaps if I had actually sold a lot of books I would do it differently. The general consensus has always been to celebrate big results. However it the small successes that keep us motivated to achieve further.

Sarah mentions the film, Hector and the Search for Happiness and how after being kidnapped and nearly murdered, Hector learns that the value in happiness comes from knowing how to celebrate it. I get what she means. We do need to celebrate the small steps. They keep us focused. In writing, circumstances often appear more intimidating because of the volume of books out there. It is easy to forget that accomplishment is the real aim, that the doing and completing is the real prize. Perhaps if we accepted this readily our confidence wouldn’t suffer as much?

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Have you heard of the Five Percent Rule? Unfortunately I am not sure of the source (Sarah mentioned it in her post but not where it originated) but it goes something like this. Out of the millions of people who talk about writing a book, only 5% will actually start one, and out of the 5% who start a novel only 5% will actually finish it, and only 5% of those authors who finish will write a second book.

 

I’ll bet any amount of money (if I had it) that a lot of the dreams we dare to dream end up with similar percentages. Running is not strength for me so when my daughter talked me into doing the Colour Run a few years ago I confess to nerves. I did it but I didn’t tell many people (probably because I came next to last). The real truth is that although it was fun, and for a good cause I didn’t see it in terms of me. I was wrong. We should celebrate each step wherever we take it because maybe, just maybe we may feel enough encouragement to go all the way in something else. We might let confidence surface a little when we need it.

My last two posts in between bits of poetry, and musical sharing have revolved around consistency and confidence and hinted at celebration. I think we should add it to the mix. The three Cs has a nice ring to it, and so does 3 balloons.

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Until next time,

Barb

 

Accomplishment and Confidence celebrate their forever (too many years to count) anniversary.

celebrationTo accomplish anything, you need confidence. Confidence comes with self-awareness. Simple, you say? You wish, I answer. It is hard enough to be that honest with others; it’s even harder with yourself.

Christopher D Connors says that a “major component of confidence is the value you place on yourself. Confidence is about the faith you have in your abilities, the person you are, and how you view your most important relationship — the one with yourself.”

I have my moments but mostly I think I am self-aware. Do I behave accordingly? No, more often not.  In the face of day to day life it is very difficult to maintain that confidence. What pulls me into line is the idea of being a role model.  I have children, I work, I socialise and with this certain responsibilities are called for. My parents were role models. They left their homeland for the unknown. They may not have known they were confident but they were. How else could you go to a place where you had no language, no cultural similarities and very little knowledge of the terrain?

Confidence is about using common sense. Self-awareness plays a major role in common sense. It dictates what is easy, what is possible and how to approach your challenge.  A good relationship with yourself (aka self-awareness) will allow the confidence to shine and lead you to accomplish. The trick is maintaining that confidence. Christopher summed it up in five points, points which inspired me to add my own bent.

Trying to rationalise the past: (DON’T):  We went wrong. It’s done. Dwelling on what was, should be, could be erodes the little confidence we may have left. I have made many mistakes. I can make excuses, even valid ones but they won’t change anything.  We can’t go back. Justifying prevents us from moving forward.

Hissy fits about not realising your potential: (DON’T):  DIGITAL CAMERAYou’re not alone in this. Life gets in the way and forces side streets. It doesn’t matter, does it? If you are confident then let that can act as the impetus to get back on the main road. Go climb the mountain, go back to school, go stand on a red carpet with your Oscar but do it because you want to, not because you have a skewered idea of what you should have been. Side streets are interesting, learning vehicles. Potential doesn’t have limits; clocks do. Using that you can work with the now, realistically putting failure into the educational section of our mental library for research purposes.

Be surrounded by inspirational stories: (DO):  Media gets a bagging for some very good reasons but on the plus side it gives us access to inspiration and motivation every day. A great example was reading this article. When I read an inspirational quote my imagination goes crazy and it brings out a boldness that surprises. Be your own inspirational story by confidently leading your life and showing love and caring in all you do. Adventures will follow.

Keep a journal of sorts: (DO):  journalI keep a written one but am unfaithful far too often. I do however have a monogamous relationship with my internal dialogue centre.  Christopher says we “become what we say and do, but one of the hidden factors of success is our ability to manifest positive thought encouragement to ourselves through the power of autosuggestion”. I freely admit talking to myself (sometimes even aloud). “I can do this” has been a relentless mantra particularly over the last few weeks. It kept me going.

Celebrate your win: (DEFINITELY DO):  rosesI am guilty of not doing this. Believe it or not I am quite shy so I run around excited when something good happens but then go silent because my non confident persona makes an appearance. Can anyone relate? It’s ironic considering this post which is all about confidence but insecurity is a wicked enemy. This is when we need that internal dialogue, the inspirational stories and the celebration. My dearest friend Julia bought me flowers when I published even though it needed work and probably still does (editing sucks) and it made me feel like a queen. I go back to that moment whenever I hesitate and tell the endorphins they can come out to play. Feeling good is something we want to repeat. Celebrating and endorphins hold hands.

I have my fingers crossed for you to have confidence. Can you please send some of it back to me whenever you can spare a little?

Alla prossima

Barb

 

Confidence and Comfort, a zone where opposing forces co-habitat

Greatness blog 4As writing becomes more serious I find I am in a constant battle with confidence. It is ironic because I have just completed the final edit of my novel (see the note at the bottom of this post) with the help of some wonderful people.  It has been a tediously repetitive but necessary process.  However the result means taking Unexpected Obsession into print is no longer a dream.  Despite this, I find myself hesitating.

Being a writer is similar to jumping onto a seesaw.  One minute you’re up, the next you’re down.  If you self-publish it can be worse. Often there is no-one on the other end to make the seesaw work.  Slowly this last bit has changed and each level (the up in the seesaw) is a cause to celebrate. One of the best moments of my life was seeing the manuscript go live. Celebrating though, can fool you into a comfort zone, a zone we relish because we feel safe.  Let’s stay here for a moment and rest, we tell ourselves.  The truth is we can’t because if the book is to sell then we need to be on the seesaw permanently, and each time we need to go higher whether or not someone else is there.  If you don’t someone else may never be there. An infusion of confidence would be handy at this point.

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Vincent Van Gough said that “if you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” I wish it was that easy but didn’t he cut off an ear, and didn’t he die to finally achieve recognition.   I decided a little foray into emotional intelligence might shed some light into what confident people do to maintain that edge.  Instead, I found the opposite –what confident people don’t do.  The post by Travis Bradberry  was an interesting slant on the subject.

The first thing that came up was that confident people don’t make excuses.  It makes sense.  Assuming responsibility keeps you focused and on task.  It would be so easy to just stop and let the drugging, soothing and complacent qualities of the comfort zone take over. Confident people don’t wait for permission to act. If they did then their dreams would stay dreams.  However taking that first step, second step and all the steps it takes to fulfil your desired outcome is pretty scary.  I always feel like I need permission to continue.  Reading that sentence I can see my foolishness and I do constantly make the effort to look at things from a different perspective.

The questions I posed and the trepidation they caused when I began blogging, what if no-one reads it, what if they did and didn’t like it, I hoped would disappear with time. I was naive.  Jay Colby suggests we embrace and accept what lies beyond our comfort zone.  I think that includes our fears. If we do something that frightens us every day we may just be making a bold move towards achieving.  My trepidation needs to be viewed as an impetus.

The article by Travis tells us confident people don’t seek attention, or constant praise.  It’s true but it is this very point that causes a dilemma for writers. The craft is difficult and highly competitive. We thrive on input, we need it. Confident people are said to draw their self-worth from within.  In theory writers do this or they would never write.  It is a two-edged sword.  Once out there our work turns us into a writhing mess of exposed nerves because success is dependent on other people’s approval; it is how the writer earns a living.

Confident people don’t put things off.  What if the muse is silent?  Things that should work suddenly don’t.  For example confident people don’t let a lack of resources get in their way but for writers the muse controls the resources.  It is this muse that organises our thoughts into sentences on the page.  Travis says confident people “don’t get thrown off course just because they don’t have the right title, the right staff, or the money to make things happen. Either they find a way to get what they need, or they figure out how to get by without it.” In short they become risk-takers.  Tell me that doesn’t scare you.  It does me.  No wonder I regress so often to lack of confidence territory.

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Self-publishing made it possible for the first step in my journey.   Jay Colby believes connecting and networking with other risk-takers is vital.  He says there “is no substitute for simply knowing people who are doing what you want to do and start asking questions and emulating them.”  I would venture to add that my readers are also part of those steps and hopefully will keep me in line by reviewing and commenting.  So I guess I’d better go back to work so that you get to meet Alexia and Ricardo, a most intriguing couple in Unexpected Passion, Book 2 in The Unexpected Series.

 Ciao,

Barb

P.S.  unexpected-obsession-web-coverIf you want the now updated version of Unexpected Obsession having purchased before 24th January 2017 send me your contact (email) details before the 3rd February 2017 and I will send you the new one as a gift. No drastic changes have been made but typos, spelling and format errors have been adjusted.

 

Up and Running

Working colour

Hard at work.

A week after the big event and I still can’t quite grasp it.  I can call myself an author.  That might sound strange considering I have been blogging for a year but somehow the publishing of a book is so different.  Blogging has continuity; you can change your mind and rescind whatever you wrote or you can add to it, explain it and all in the next post.  A book is final.  It is a completed work. Yes, it is possible to go back and correct small errors but basically once created there is no going back.  It is very exposing.

Stories of the Dark and Light, a project I have been working on for almost a year with my writing group Wordwick3d is now up on Amazon and Smash Words and it has my name on it, all our names on it, and it brings a feeling of pride mixed with a good dose of trepidation tempered by a delicious sense of satisfaction. We did what we set out to do.  We published.  We let go of our fears.  The thought that people might not like our stories is no small thing.  We accepted it and ploughed ahead. Thirdly and the best reason of all for feeling happy with ourselves is that we did it together as a team.  Together we are a mixture of personalities and yet we put everything aside (did I mention strong personalities with a tendency to theatrics) to work together.

Book Cover

Hard at work.

How can we not be proud of reaching this point?  From here we can travel our own road with more confidence.  Banding together was not something I had ever intentionally considered but on my own my work sat and waited for the right moment that never seemed to arrive.  I have no doubt it would have come but working with a group that held the same desires and fears propelled a faster delivery date. Together we have prodded and produced.

Meeting up on a regular basis as a group, has encouraged activity. For me, someone that has struggled in the town I live in (I miss home) the project has pushed me back into the land of the living you could say. It piqued my memory and I found myself recalling my passion for the teachings of Dale Carnegie.  It brought to mind one of his sayings which I think has been sitting reclusively in the background of my memory waiting for something to spark it into existence.  One of Dale’s more famous quotes is the one where he says “Inaction breeds doubt and fear.  Action breeds confidence and courage.  If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it.  Go out and get busy.”  So I did. We all did.  And Dale is right. We got busy on this and it has improved our own individual work.

 

Aiyson-Kay-Barb

Yay at last!

When I started blogging it was with the idea of building an audience towards this day, the day the title, author, becomes legitimate. Surprisingly I find myself quite calm about everything.  I am not jumping around yelling, buy me, buy me, in fact if anything I am very low key and am probably a marketer’s nightmare.  Oh, don’t get me wrong, I have told friends and relatives and have spread the word and do have a plan in place but all of that is taking a back seat to emotions that surprised me.  They are about so much more than finally publishing our collection.  They are centred on the fact that we are following a dream.

Whenever people go out on a limb to follow their dreams they demonstrate that age, and circumstances don’t rule our outcomes.  There are ways to make things happen.  We just have to be willing and open and then it seems we become a magnetic to others with the same idea. Everyone seems to be waiting for that one item to inspire in them the courage to get busy.  For me it has been the many authors over the years that have given my soul sanctuary every time I engaged with their words.  Sanctuary is just another word for survival; we just find it in different places.

There was moment last week when the computer went quiet and blank as if it needed to rest before rising to the grand occasion it had been invited to.  We waited, silent, barely breathing until light flashed and suddenly, magically there was this vision on the screen, our vision and we jumped and gave a joint gasp of absolute wonder and delight.  There it was, our creation ready to journey to you, and it is all about you out there, the readers of the world.  This is our way of giving, of making a difference even if it is a few moments entertainment.  I am not saying we succeeded.  I am saying that at least we tried.  We took a journey that had hazards and we navigated, and survived.

I read an interesting comment by Richard Branson that I think sums up what I am mean. He was asked the following by Mark Ernst:  “If you had another 65 years of life, what would you want to achieve?” This is a question to a man we all know has achieved a great deal already.  Your mind jumps to the infinite possibilities he might come up with. His answer instead was simple and humble. I quote:

Despite everything, my destination has always remained the same. My goal, no matter what I have done, has been to make a difference in people’s lives.”  

Now comes the hard part, the finding out how well we did it and that is entirely up to you out there, and whether you decide to be or not to be our readers.  We have something for everyone that likes their stories slightly dark and we are willing to have your input.

Ciao till next time

Barb