Archive for July, 2016

Epic, epic fail

1131820My 5-year-old son’s first Kindy report came home a few weeks ago. “Can be very defiant,” it read. “Particularly if he thinks he won’t be able to do something perfectly.” Apparently he drew the bird’s body too small on the piece of paper in Art, so he fell into a heap on the floor in the foetal position and wouldn’t participate. And he does that often.

How very five.

Or is it? Don’t we, as adults, act defiantly sometimes in the face of failure too? Perhaps we’re not on the floor in the foetal position (or perhaps we are). But by not attempting, starting or finishing things, aren’t we really stamping our feet and saying, “NO, Not doing it! I don’t want to get this wrong in front of you all, and if I withdraw from that risk entirely, I’ll stay safe from that embarrassment.”

I read something in an article by Kim Liao recently that had a profound impact on me. It was for writers, but the advice applies to our entire lives:

“Collect rejections. Set rejection goals. I know someone who shoots for one hundred rejections in a year, because if you work that hard to get so many rejections, you’re sure to get a few acceptances, too.”

Rejection goals. What a liberating, life-expanding concept …

There’s a great short video on failure from Sara Blakely, billionaire founder and CEO of Spanx. Growing up, her father would ask the kids at the dinner table what they’d failed at that day. He’d be disappointed if she didn’t have something to say, because that would mean she hadn’t been trying. It reminds me of JK Rowling’s advice: “It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.”

All of this got me thinking…

What if we all headed into this week, DETERMINED TO FAIL AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE. How would that look, that is different from last week?

Would we:

  • Smile at even more strangers, despite the risk they wouldn’t smile back
  • Move our bodies more, even if we felt frumpy or uncoordinated in front of people
  • Audition for the local theatre group, even if we didn’t get the part
  • Ask someone out on a date, even if the answer could be ‘no’
  • Apply for a promotion, even if it’s a stretch
  • Submit a story we’ve written, despite chances being against us
  • Make some art, even if we haven’t done anything like that since primary school

Those are random ideas, and they may not even appeal to you, but we’d each make our own list of the things we WOULD want to do, if we dropped our defiant refusal to risk, and flipped the meaning of failure so that the only true fail was not giving things a go.

But here’s the exciting bit. Imagine multiplying the results of an approach like that over the course of a month, or six months, or a year, or a lifetime. Imagine 100 rejections. Two hundred. Can you see the shape and size and reach or your life transforming even as you think about the consequences of failing as much as possible?

One day, I don’t want to look back and see all the wasted chances I didn’t take and the time I lost because something might not work out. I want to be proud of how much I attempted, how many times I scrambled back up and how often I threw caution to the wind.

So who’s in? Who will join me for an EPIC WEEK OF FAILURE, starting today?

Let me know how you go!

General Anaesthetic: Here I come!

630579By the time you read this, I will be in hospital, prepping for surgery. It is nothing to worry about (I don’t care who knows and don’t wish to create unnecessary drama, so will just tell you: I’m having an endometrial ablation for fibroids/bleeding and tubal ligation, and removal of a lump that is most likely a cyst. Hopefully I don’t get too many ‘unsubscribes’ for sharing that detail, but why not talk about this stuff? Totally normal.)

The point is this: I am looking forward to the general anaesthetic. This is where we diverge into ‘hang on, that’s actually not totally normal…’

A period of time completely disconnected. Not just with my phone off. With my consciousness off.

No mother with dementia. No 15-year-old with Anxiety. No waiting up for the 17-year-old to come home safely. No 5-year-old described as ‘can be very defiant’ in the Kindy report …

No worrying financial stuff.

No difficult work issues. No complex corporate training proposals. No pushing myself into a corner with the current novel-plot. No editing on the My 15 Minutes book. No submitting the first novel to publishers. No rejections.

No housework. No mess. No lunches. No dryer-filter-doesn’t-go-back-together-after-clean, no ‘oven door handle has fallen off’, no need to  declutter …

No need-to-lose-weight … to get fit, to cut hair, to dye it, to fix nails, to shape body …

No friends with relationship problems. No sister trying to sell her house. No best friend’s husband looking for a new job …

No friend with pancreatic cancer, and acquaintance with terminal melanoma and friend-of-a-friend with weeks to live from a brain tumour …

No wondering what if, and what next, and am I good enough …

No. ANYTHING. For a little while.

Deliciously … blank.

My GP told me recently that our forties are often the most stressful decade in life, just because of where we sit in the scheme of the things. The more stressful things are, the more breaks we need. The more we have to do, the more time off we ought to take.

A general anaesthetic is not the answer! Looking forward to being knocked unconscious from the world? No. Not good enough.

What’s really needed now is a proper, conscious escape. And dreaming one up is going to be the only thing on my ‘to do’ list this week.

Is your soul wagging its tail?

294311Mine hasn’t been over the last few months, and I realised why last week. After a few big deadlines, big family stressors and other distractions, I threw myself into a new novel draft, and fell deeply in love … not with the characters (though I do love them) but with who I am when I write fiction.

When I resigned from the public service in 2009, my boss tried to talk me out of it. Apparently, I was good at my job. I had an ‘outstanding service’ award from the CEO, which I still feel I didn’t deserve. I didn’t feel worthy because my heart wasn’t in it. Not at all. The CEO didn’t hear my thoughts. He didn’t feel my heart sink when I drove into the car park each morning. He didn’t see me watching the clock as I did the ‘right thing’ and performed in my job.

My second daughter had to choose her Year 11 and 12 subjects last week, and said, “This feels like the most important decision of my life!” No! No, no, no!!!!

I posted on Facebook about it, and my friends rallied like the angels they are in convincing her just how totally misguided that belief is. I wish I could include 30+ comments here, but here are some:

  • I say “choose subjects/friends/thoughts by one criterion: do more of what makes your soul feel likes it’s wagging its tail”. THE END.
  • I was pushed and pushed into doing my TEE (ATAR now?) so I did it, stressed myself out, missed out on doing things with friends etc and ended up getting a decent score but it wasn’t what I wanted. I thought it was the end of the world. Then when I didn’t get my first uni preference I thought my whole life was ruined. Well, I ended up becoming homeless at 17, working 16 hour days from 18, having a baby at 19 (and four in total by age 25), and after trying out FIVE different degrees I am finally settled on what I want to do.
  • When I look back on the last 11 years since I graduated, my subject preferences from Yr 11 and 12 rate riiiight down low on the scale of things that have defined my life so far.
  • So many opportunities available.. Have fun! Try something new. Do things you love, enjoy or pick one that you find easy… Just SHINE
  • I watched so many people go to uni because they thought it was the ‘right thing to do.’ Two years into the degree they leave and work at wherever. I will be telling my girls to have a year off after year 12. It doesn’t matter when you work out what you want to do with your life. Most people change a few times anyway.
  • Do what inspires you. I didn’t… and chose physics, maths and biology. Dismal fail on all counts except English and French… so wish I had known that years 11 and 12 would have SO LITTLE influence over my life beyond age 17!
  • Choose things that tickle curiousness. We chop-and-change all the time…I’d say, “look at what you’re passionate about…laughter, colour, humanity etc.”
  • Whatever makes her smile is a good place to start
  • I was pressured to do sensible subjects by loving and well-intentioned parents instead of drama, which I loved… went on to do a degree in drama and literature… I loathed most of my last two years of school unneccessarily… and loved every minute of my degree… do what lights you up inside. Life is a grand adventure 🙂 Let it be filled with joy whenever possible!
  • These were all people dishing out absolutely the best advice to a teenager. But what about us? What about being 40-ish or 40-plus and still facing career choices, as we all do?

Today, I heard of a friend of a friend, and husband and father, who was diagnosed with a brain tumour and has been given, completely unexpectedly, only a few weeks to live. Our minds would go wild with ‘what ifs’ if we lived every day as if it was our last, but I’m going to look for ways to shine. Ways to tickle curiousness. Ways to smile.

For me, it’s escaping into writing fiction, but what is it for you? Do you know, yet? And are you doing something about making time for it?

Our workshop, The 7 Mindset Gremlins That Mess With You Most (and how to get your stuff done anyway) is proving popular. Tickets are selling fast, and if you’re looking for fresh ways to get a lot more done, in the areas you love the most, you’ll love it! Limited seats. Early bird tickets available.