Let Famous Failures Inspire You to Keep Going After Your Dream

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Have you ever failed at something and for a moment felt devastated?

If so, you’re in good company. History is loaded with examples of successful people who encountered many failed attempts before they discovered success in their fields.

The difference between momentary failure and your eventual success is trying again, and with passion. Perfection, however, is not your goal. Giving your best, making the world a better place and experiencing fulfillment is.

The problem with what the world calls “failure” is that it’s an opinion of someone who can’t see your full value, your inner beauty, and your limitless potential. Even well-meaning folks, like our parents, can diminish our efforts with their damaging evaluations.

Henry Ford who had lots of experience with what the world calls failure said:  “Failure is the opportunity to begin again, more intelligently”. In fact, what you learn from failure paves your road to success.

Enjoy the following video about famous failures and let it be a reminder to keep going after your dream.

3 Ways Wayne Dyer Changed the Way I Look at Things

waynedyerYesterday  a friend called to share how she had been inspired and empowered by watching Wayne Dyer on Super Soul Sunday. It made me reflect on what he has meant to my life.

It was only  later in the day I got the news he had made his transition.  I began to think back to how specific words he has shared in his books and personal appearances have expanded my mind and lead to the life I enjoy today. These are just three of them in no particular order.

 

1. To a No-Limits person, winning is an internal process.

I was always competitive. I was eager to win first place whether it was reading the most books in the summer reading program or raising the most money in the church fundraiser. When I didn’t reach these goals I’d feel deflated. When I won, I felt victorious. Yay! I wasn’t a loser.

When I learned that winning is an internal process, it took the pressure off and helps me stop judging my success by the world’s index.

I get to practice this regularly, like when I signed up recently for an art class in a process new to me called Zentangle.  The other seven students had experience with the process and some of them created amazingly beautiful and mesmerizing designs.  As a newcomer to this process, my lines and circles were unsteady and hesitant making me feel I was at the bottom of the class. By the 2nd class, tears of defeat, unworthiness, and incompetence welled up when the teacher asked us to show what we had created for homework.  I wanted to quit.

Fortunately, I was able to pull myself back by recalling that I was once a beginner at every skill I’ve mastered in this life, beginning with learning to talk, walk, and read. If I’ve mastered other skills, I could master this technique too, if chose to. Most important, I realized that I was a winner just for setting a goal and showing up to the class willing to learn and open to the teacher’s suggestions on improving my technique. I took control of my attitude and inner feelings about my experience. Yay! I was a winner without anyone needing to be a loser!

2. Follow your passion in life, but detach from the outcome and allow the universe to handle the details.

The prayers of the adults during my childhood always seemed like begging for favors from a Santa Claus in the sky. They were specific about what they wanted but felt unworthy to receive it. Some even felt selfish or guilty for asking for a better life. All the time they often focused on their current situation, not how they wanted them to be.

Each achievement in my life seemed far away when I first imagined it but I decided I deserved them:  enjoying a teaching career,  having a family, operating a tutoring program, earning a PhD, writing a book, moving to a new home, travelling the world and more.

When people ask for details on how I accomplished any of these, I can’t give them the typical specifics. Because of what I’ve learned from Dyer over many years, the journey to all of my accomplishments start with a deep desire. I  imagine how I will feel and even see myself in these scenes.  What a relief to learn that whatever I wanted already existed. I didn’t have to create it, I just had to attract it. Like a little kid who wants a bicycle so desperately that he can think of nothing else day and night, I visualize not the actions I needed to take, but how I would feel when each of these manifested in the material world.

As small clues pop up, I follow them.

For example, I always aspired to earn a PhD even as a kid when a mentor told me it was the highest degree you could earn (I told you I was competitive.)

By the time I was at the educational level to go after a PhD, however, I didn’t have the funds nor time to do gymnastic classes, science workshops, church activities, and more.  Only a delusional person would try to fit in academic studies into that mix!

Still, when I learned of the availability of full-time doctoral grants, I applied. I completed the long application process and waited for four months only to receive a rejection letter. I was disappointed, but I decided that this grant must not be the route the universe intended. I’d keep a look out for another path.

A month after having received the rejection letter, I received another letter from the grant foundation now offering me a grant. What? A number of the selected recipients had declined to accept the grants, opening up a slot for me, if I wanted it. Wow! It  seemed like magic, but I knew it was because I let the universe work out the details. Now the universe just needed to work out the details of how I would manage all this.

3. Don’t die with your music still in you.

This idea has been so powerful in my life that it has become a guiding principle. Once I understood my happiness is my choice, it became easier to make decisions about which goals  I would pursue.

Like anyone else, I’ve sometimes hesitated to take a step that seemed scary according to the world’s standards. But when I recall my imperative to live my own life, I’ve been able to move ahead. Here’s an excerpt from my upcoming book, Color Your Life Happy: Create Your Unique Path and Claim the Joy You Deserve, about one of those times.

The year before I retired from my teaching career, I was considering teaching for a little longer. I had been teaching at Fullerton College close to twenty years; and while that may seem like a substantial amount of time, it wouldn’t give me full retirement. I would have to teach a total of thirty years or more to reach a retirement income nearly equivalent to my salary.

During the summer of 2006, I decided to have some home remodeling done while I had ample equity in the home and so the changes would be in place when I retired. It was one of the hottest summers on record for Southern California. Then—wouldn’t you know it?—my home air conditioner broke down. The repair service was backed up with orders and wouldn’t get to me for more than a week. So for more than a week, I endured the heat all day while work crews were in and out of my house doing the remodeling. It was worse at night, when it seemed to get hotter. I got so hot it was impossible for me to get cool. I didn’t learn until later that I had suffered heat stroke.

Just when I felt better and the remodeling was complete, I returned to the fall semester, still not sure whether it would be my last year. My doctor had been urging me to get a colonoscopy ever since I had turned fifty, but I had neglected to do so until that fall. I made an appointment, did all the body-cleansing prep, and went to have the colonoscopy, accompanied by my youngest daughter.

After I regained consciousness, the doctor told me she had removed three polyps from my colon, one of which was cancerous. Although the polyps had been removed, my doctor suggested that I should consider colon surgery to ensure that the cancer had not penetrated my colon wall.

It was then, after my heat stroke and the possibility of colon surgery, that it became clear to me: I was going to retire right now and get busy doing things I had put off for retirement. I decided to forgo surgery and improve my eating habits and lifestyle instead.

Even though I had traveled and already done many things in my life, many things remained on my list. Postponing these things in an effort to ensure that I had a few more dollars in my retirement fund seemed ludicrous. I chose to live, love, and play more.

So I retired in May 2007 and immediately traveled to two places I had long wanted to see: China and Italy. I took several domestic trips as well. After gallivanting around the globe a bit, starting new websites and blogs, I also began writing [the first edition of] this book.

We are blessed that Wayne Dyer did not leave us with his song, dream, and books inside him. They are now part of our lives, empowering and inspiring us to live the lives we came to live. More important, Dyer insisted that we each have the power to inspire others. By living our own authentic lives we are doing just that. What better way to honor his legacy.

Tell  me in the comments how Wayne Dyer impacted your life.

Article by Flora Brown

Call Her Madam, the First Self-Made American Woman Millionaire

walkerMadame C.J. Walker, born Sarah Breedlove in poverty-stricken Louisiana in 1867, went from picking cotton to become the first self-made American woman millionaire.  But it was not a straight line.

“There is no royal flower-strewn path to success,” she once observed. “And if there is, I have not found it – for if I have accomplished anything in life it is because I have been willing to work hard.”

She married at age 14, gave birth to her only daughter in 1885, and two years later became a widow. Upon her husband’s death she moved to St. Louis where her four brothers were barbers. She saved enough money working as a laundrywoman to educate her daughter.

How she began

During the 1890’s Sarah began to lose her hair due to a damaging scalp ailment. She was so embarrassed by her appearance that she began to experiment with scalp conditioners and healing formulas made by another Black entrepreneur, Annie Malone. She soon became a sales agent for Annie and moved to Denver. There she met and married Charles Joseph Walker.

How she progressed

Sarah changed her name to Madame CJ Walker and founded her own business selling Madam Walker’s Wonderful Hair Grower, a scalp conditioning and healing formula. She conducted an exhausting door-to-door sales campaign throughout the South and Southeast. She even opened a college in 1908 to train her “hair culturists.” Her corporation at one time employed over 3,000 employees.

In fifteen years she amassed a fortune and is the first known African-American woman to become a self-made millionaire. She died at age 52 in 1919.

Learn more

Learn more at her official website, http://www.madamcjwalker.com, maintained by her biographer and great-great granddaughter, A’Lelia Bundles.

February is Black History Month when we pause to remember, acknowledge, celebrate, and express gratitude for the many black men, women and children who overcame great odds and endured hardships to become successful in their endeavors. The life of Madame C.J. Walker reminds us all that the secret to success is no secret at all. As she once explained, “I got my start by giving myself a start.”

Want Success? Decide the What, Let the How Take Care of Itself

riskLife is what happens to us while we’re busy making other plans.
~John Lennon

When you go after a goal, it’s important to have a clear vision of what you want or where you want to be when you succeed. But you don’t need to be overly concerned about how you will get there. The details of  how to reach your goal will unfold as you go. Even if you listed every single action step, unexpected results, people and events will occur along the way causing you to alter your course.  If you’ve ever have to take a detour from your carefully charted route or GPS guidance, you know what I mean.

Here are five ways to proceed that have worked for me and others.

  • Learn from people who have already accomplished what you want to achieve.

Just one conversation with another mom who was working on her doctoral degree gave me the courage to begin my own doctoral studies. It’s best, if possible, to have a mentor or supportive group with whom you can exchange ideas and get encouragement. It’s fortunate if you meet in person, but when you can’t, grasp the wealth of encouragement available from books, movies, and information exchange on the internet.

  • Be willing to concentrate so hard on what you are doing that time seems to stand still.

In his book Flow, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls this optimal experience “flow.”  He described flow as

The state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter.; the experience itself is so enjoyable that people will do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it.

When I’m engaged in writing an article, for example, I sometimes get so caught up in what I’m saying that my fingers seem to fly trying to capture the thoughts rushing out of my head. At these times I reach such a peak of exhilaration and joy that I forget to eat. When this period subsides, my stomach growls, reminding me of my negligence.

  • Be willing to do what it takes to reach your goal.

This may sound too obvious to even mention. But it’s true. Many years ago when my kids watched Mr. Rogers, one of his popular songs was “You’ve Got to Do It.” The gist of this seemingly simple song was that you can make believe, wish or daydream about what you want, but for something to happen you’ve got to take action. You have to know every single step to start. Just take the first one and the second one. The remaining steps will become apparent as you progress.

  • Be willing to be alone.

I love having dinner parties, travel, and going to live theater. But I also love my own company. It’s only when all outside stimulation is silenced that some of my best ideas surface.

Some of the activities you’ll need to complete on the way to your goal must be done alone. If you feel the need to have a buddy, helper or ride-along with everything you do, you’re going to slow down and maybe even derail your progress.

  • Be willing to fail or quit.

The unwillingness to fail or be rejected is what causes us to procrastinate or stick with things longer than we should. We keep holding back waiting for things to be perfect or cling to a failing project long after it’s dead. It’ s wise to research and think things through, but you must let these ideas, projects, or activities be born, no matter what the outcome.

I decided long ago that when I’m sitting in my rocking chair stroking my gray Afro, recounting my life story, I’d much rather talk about the many things I had tried that didn’t work out than about what I wanted to do but never had the courage to try.

In his book, The Dip, Seth Godin points out that successful people quit many times. The key is knowing when to quit before you spend a disproportionate amount of time and energy on a goal or task that’s not going anywhere.

When Jia Jiang’s plan to create a to-do list app fell through, he was crushed. Not only did his major investor let him down, but now Jia had to disappoint his four employees and ask his wife to keep supporting the family while he pursued his dream. He was angry, plagued by fear,  and felt sick at the stomach. He decided that if rejection is part of success he should build up resistance to it. That’s how his 100 Days of Rejection Therapy began.  The plan was to make outrageous requests, video the response and blog about it. On Nov. 15, 2012 his began by asking a security guard for $100. The answer was “no” and although Jia was nervous, he continued his project. Check out his many requests and results on his blog at www.entresting.com.

You may not be brave enough to stare rejection in the face as Jia did, but don’t hesitate to start a project for fear of failing.  Instead of thinking of failure as the end, think of it as the cost of succeeding.

Set your vision and be willing to do what it takes to get there. The “how” will unfold in wonderful and amazing ways.

Share about a time your plans changed for the better as you moved toward a goal. Have you asked for something outrageous? How did that work out?

Our Gift from Steve Jobs

As we all pause to mourn the loss of Steve Jobs, let us reflect on the gift he gave us during his lifetime. Most will think that his greatest gift is his contribution to the computer and entertainment world. But it’s more than that.

At a commencement speech at Stanford he spoke of the path his life took and the choices he made. The fact that he was invited to speak at a university graduation was just one of many ironic and remarkable things about his life. He never graduated from college because it was restricting and delaying him from answering the call of his dreams.

He recounted the circumstances of his young birth mother being very purposeful about who would adopt her son, his leaving college to follow his dream, the hurtful experience of being fired from the company he helped found and finally the devastating news of pancreatic cancer.

Through it all Steve had a vision and life drive that perhaps few could understand. Never mind that it’s rumored that his visions were helped along by psychedelic drugs in his early days, he left us a gift nonetheless.

  • He showed us what can happen when you follow an idea, even when you’re not sure where it is taking you.
    He mentions in the commencement speech how audited a calligraphy class at Reed College just because he wanted to, later served him well when creating the fonts and spacing for Apple computers.
  • He left us with an example of what living your life to its fullest means, even in the face of a cruel illness that promised to shorten his time with us. He lived each day as if it was his last. By the time he did face his last day he had changed the lives of people around the world because of his innovative ideas and determination to sharing them with us.
  • Finally, he left us with an example of what being rich is really about. He reportedly had a temper, was intolerant of half-ass work, perfectionistic and fiercely focused, but he bravely extracted the most from each day of his life to create what he saw would improve our lives even when no one else could see it.
  • It may seem disingenuous to mourn the loss of someone you never knew personally, but when that someone was a genius whose live and work changed the way we all live and work, it’s most appropriate.
  • Thank you, Steve Jobs, for your gift. May we open our gift and continue to be inspired, encouraged and enriched by it.

    P.S. In case you didn’t see that Stanford commencement speech, I’ve posted it above.