Every once in a while a client will get really frustrated and exclaim “I’ve failed!” My first response is usually “Congratulations!” I say that because failure is one of the key ingredients to real learning.
We eliminate what doesn’t work. We hone and better ourselves.
Secondly, I follow up with a reminder. “Use one of those Re-Commitment cards I gave you.”
We both laugh.
Somehow we have come to believe we are infallible machines. Mechanical to work perfectly. We believe our code is so exceptional. How could we possibly mess up?
Through Failure, We Learn.
You get 500
Re-Commitment cards in your booklet.
Each time something goes awry, grab one and proudly use it.
Thomas Edison is often cited as the inventor of the lightbulb. He was not. However, he did figure out how to sustain the lightbulb’s ability to last longer before burning out.
He spent countless hours through trial-and-error experiments to get the thickness of the filament and voltage regulation just right. One could only imagine how frustrated Edison must have been at times.
There are so many wonderful quotes attributed to Edison and his healthy perspective on failure as a growth mindset.
“I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.”
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”
Pretty good for an inventor whose teacher considered him “too stupid to learn anything.” Ironic for an inventor who was awarded 1,093 patents.
There are countless other Edison-like individuals out there who under all adversity strove to continue forward— the basketball player who initially failed to make his high school varsity team and went on to become one of NBA’s greatest athletes (Michael Jordon); 4 shaggy-haired lads from Liverpool who failed to get a record contract early on (Beatles); the single welfare mother who against all odds followed her inner guidance to write and has since sold 500 million+ books (JK Rowlings.)
Stand Out By Standing Up.
The way we create change is through action. Stand up.
In comedy improvisation, there is a tradition when you hit the wall and snafu the scene. You simply take a self-congratulatory bow and exclaim in an over-exaggerated manner, “I faiiiiiiled.” The audience applauds as a form of support, as in, regardless, what a brilliant effort you made!
Years ago, in one of my many free-flowing incarnations, I was a professional photographer. On assignment for Guitar World magazine, I spent several days photographing a group of incredible guitarists who came together to celebrate the music of Stevie Ray Vaughan for a television special. This included so many of the blues greats including his brother Jimmie Vaughan, BB King, Buddy Guy, Robert Cray, Bonnie Raitt, and Eric Clapton.
As a guitarist myself, I was stupefied watching Clapton rehearse. Believe it or not, he kept messing up the song. How was this possible? Here was a guitarist who was so revered, that the phrase “Clapton is God” was once spray-painted on the wall of the London underground and all over the city.
As the tension built in the room and most notably on Clapton’s face, I turned to Jimmie with a look of WTF? Jimmie leaned over to me and in a hushed tone said, “Just you wait. Eric will go back to his hotel room tonight and practice that song over and over. You’ll see tomorrow when he comes back.”
And that is exactly what happened. At the following day’s rehearsal, Clapton plugged in his Stratocaster, turned it up without apology, and then matched SRV’s original guitar lead while tearing the roof off!
Focus On The Opportunity
What exactly did Clapton do? As plain as day, he Re-Committed. Sure he was initially flustered, but he wasn’t going to let that rule the situation. He wasn’t about to let an embarrassing moment stifle his expression. He wanted to honor his friend and fellow bluesman.
This was a public celebration that was going to be broadcasted to millions of viewers. In the end, during the performance in front of a live audience, Clapton floored everyone. The fruits of his Re-Commitment was so evident.
Use That Re-Commitment Card
Normally in the first several weeks of working with a new client, the opportunity to present the mythical Re-Commitment booklet will avail.
Someone will blurt out something like “I really screwed up this situation” or “I keep beating myself up because of…”
When this happens, I reach over for my handy stack of blank 4×6 index cards and say with a smile. “This stack of cards represents a booklet of 500 Re-Commitment vouchers I am giving you. Whenever you fall off track, or think you are failing, use one. It’s a learning ‘get out free of your own jail’ card. Just Re-Commit. For any new habit or change of mindset, you may not need to use all of them. But remember they are your disposal for whenever they are needed.”
Establishing a new mindset or change of habit is a process. It will take repetition to establish. Stop beating yourself up or having a pity party when you go off course. If you really take this seriously and see it as an opportunity, then things will change. Make this your light bulb moment, just like Edison.
How will you use your 500 Re-Commitment cards?
Previously published here and reprinted with the author’s permission.
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