Friday, June 27, 2014

Glorious Failure

"A glorious failure can sometimes be more life affirming than a cautious win." 

Now is the perfect time in life to invest in the possibility of a glorious win, accepting the risk of a glorious failure, rather than being complacent with a cautious win.

As Elizabeth Gilbert states in a recent O Magazine article, "You must ask for what you really want. The mere act of saying aloud, 'This is who I am and this is what I've come for' seems to awaken a powerful force within. By articulating your wish, you're serious about bringing forth the next great thing in your life." Even if it ends up being a failure.

What do you get from a glorious failure? One—you fail, or at least you don't accomplish what you set out to achieve. On the other hand, you discover new options and opportunities. In the process of going for the big win, you experience living life to the fullest. You get to be the person that "you want to be." And, if you try enough times for the glorious win, you might just get it one day.

Conversely, rather than take a chance that you might fail at what you really want, you decide to go for the cautious win. A more sure thing, but are you better off? Does a cautious win excite you? Do you want to jump out of bed in the morning to meet a cautious win? A failure makes you want to try again. A cautious win can make you complacent—accepting good enough.

Why is retirement the perfect time to go for the glorious win or failure? We have very little at stake. Other than protecting our financial investments, everything else is up for grabs—our time, energy, relationships, interests, hobbies, commitments…  Retirees can take this risk.

Author James Marshall Reilly, in his book Shake Up the World: It’s Not About Finding a Job, It’s About Creating a Life, says, "When you are young, there is no wrong choice other than the safe choice." Reilly suggests that young adults have very little to lose, that they are "gifted a uniquely low-risk window of time to invest in themselves." I propose that the same is true for the other end of the career lifecycle, the period when we're free to put a capstone on our life, not just our career. We can go for the glorious win and risk a failure.

According to Susan Scott, author of Fierce Conversations, "A safe conversation is a failed conversation." Maybe the same principle applies to goals. A safe goal is a failed goal. At best, it's a cautious win. I encourage you to risk the glorious failure in exchange for the glorious win!

Written by Patrice Jenkins, Ph.D.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Don't Order From the Menu

This past weekend I had dinner out with a friend who always requests something that's not on the menu. Rather than choosing from the specially prepared entrees, she goes to great lengths to describe exactly what she wants to eat and how she wants it prepared. Honestly, I find this behavior annoying and embarrassing. What's so hard about finding something on the menu that sounds appetizing?

When I have a meal in a restaurant, I almost always order from the menu. I think it's the polite thing to do. After all, it's only a meal.

But, when it comes to how I order my life, the rules change. If I don't get one meal right, it's no big deal. Don't get my life right, well that's another story. So here is where I often choose to ask for something that's not on the menu—instead of selecting from available options, I imagine what I need, how I want to live, and then create and pursue those options for my life.

I'm not saying that what's on the menu is bad—quite the opposite. Usually these options have been carefully selected and tested. They're proven to be favorites, and so they may be a good choice. Examples include volunteering to deliver Meals-on-Wheels to the elderly or helping to build a home for Habitat for Humanity. You're wise to carefully research and consider available choices. I think of them as over-the-counter (OTC) options. Take one off the shelf and get started.

But, when the OTC options don't fit you or excite you, then it's time to create your own menu. To help you get started, consider these questions:

  • What do you need to wake up curious and excited to start your day?
  • What have you always wanted to do but didn't have the time, courage, money, _____ (you fill in the blank)?
  • Where are you settling in life? What will change this?
  • When reflecting on your life, what do you want to talk about at your 90th birthday party?

According to authors Gary Keller and Jay Papasan, "When you lift the limits of your thinking, you expand the limits of your life. It's only when you can imagine a bigger life that you can ever hope to have one." In other words: 
                                          "Don't order from the menu."

Copyright 2014, Patrice Jenkins, Ph.D.