Posts Tagged 'fear'

Party Failure

Courtesy of


The headline above a recent article from grabbed my attention immediately. Having fallen short a lot, as we all do, I wondered what premise the author may be starting from.

Is it better to forget it?

I’ve seen some say so, but that invites more mistakes and misguided decisions. Blowing off unsavory outcomes could lead us to repeat the same action in search of a different result. As my pastor and mentor Steve Clifford once told me, “Sometimes wisdom is not putting your hand back in the fire.”

Really, though, who throws a party when things go wrong?

The key is to avoid mourning for an extended period or being possessed by shame and disappointment. Even the author admits what is occurring is “a wider appreciation that failure is an inherent part of innovation and taking risks,” an undercurrent of acceptance the prime demands of this web-enabled generation — better and faster — require more defeats than victories.

What is actually happening, then, is the abolition of perfectionism.

The idea is to allow people to come up short and do so openly, to brush aside the embarrassment and take another shot…and another….and another…and another, if necessary.

Further, encouraging people to make an effort engenders a spirit of cohesiveness, in which it is much less “easy for us to point fingers, to find blame, to gleefully critique the things that went wrong,” as Seth Godin writes in his new book Poke the Box. When everyone is allowed to swing for the fences, everyone is going to strike out more — but everyone will support each other more, too.

We walk a fine line in creating a culture which accepts failure “just right.”

Facilitating experimentation — giving people the freedom to explore uncommon concepts and create based on them — inevitably leads to dead ends and discouragement from time to time. Become too lax and the whole venture goes down the tube without any wins.

Making the most of undesired results, squeezing every lesson about the wrong (and right) out for future application, expands the possibility for a major breakthrough — one that will, with persistence and consistency, certainly arrive.

Then we throw the party.

After all, there is a time to celebrate failure: when we’ve succeeded.

Fear and Commitment


Life-altering decisions have a way of scaring us.

The shift from known to unknown is a breeding ground for doubt.

Even when full of confidence, old ghosts haunt our minds with questions.

What will change?

Who will I lose?

Am I ready?

Do I want to?

Can I even do it?

If we could see the challenges ahead and the work to overcome them, we’d probably stay home.

Taking a step in a new direction, regardless of how brave we feel, is always the stuff of legend.

What we believe to be a simple move is infinitely more complex than we can imagine.

If we knew the answers, the meaning would be lost.

We are left to ask:

Without fear, is there commitment?


When We Think, It Can’t Get Any Worse

Never Good Enough

The Fear Soliloquy

When We Think, It Can’t Get Any Worse

Challenges can overwhelm us, if we let them.

There are moments when all of us doubt our ability to take another step.

Some of us act fast and others are parlyzed by fear or frustration.

Groping along in the dark for a solution, I often do the latter. I become annoyed by my inability to find a way out, get angry at myself and begin second-guessing decision after decision.

Before long, headspace is a tangled mess of contradictions and insults.

Boarding a runaway train racing through every station of a nightmare scenario, the conductor is no longer at the controls.

The locomotive is gaining speed on a downhill slope.

The end result can only be a gruesome wreck of depression and anguish.

Slam on the brakes.

Take a breath — it’s still possible.

Life goes on.

It requires small steps, not giant leaps.

When we think, it can’t get any worse.


The Monk’s Prayer

Serial Killer

The Fear Soliloquy

Loving in Fear


My whole life, I’ve been told to fear God.

I have a hard time with that.

That’s not to say I’m unable to cower under the might of the Creator, I am certain the consequences of disobeying Him are far from pleasant — I’ve experienced some of them.

I’m unsettled by the claim I should pass my days quivering in the shadow of His power.

It is impossible for a human being to love in that situation.

The course of history is defined by people overthrowing those who punched them down with an iron fist. Action under such conditions is timid and guarded, measured by unsure steps with a watchful eye on the swinging ax of reprisal. Living by the rule of fear breeds resentment and, eventually, rebellion.

On the other hand, if motivated by love, we are made strong and courageous. Our decisions come with an added dose of bravery, even when shrouded in doubt. To move in this way is to be for something instead of against it, to go forward with momentum as opposed to being held back.

“Do not fear” is the most common command in the Bible.

It makes sense, if we think about it.

When scared, we are weakened.

We have no reason to be.

He will be with us, if we allow.

Why? Because He loves us.


The Monk’s Prayer

The Gift from Above

The Faith Soliloquy

Top Posts, July 2010

It’s a few days late since the 31st of July fell on a Saturday, so I apologize.  Here are the most viewed posts for the past month:

5. 5 Steps to Your Best Apology

4. Running into God

3. Looking at Life from the Threshhold of Death

2. The Fear Soliloquy

1. 1 Difference Between “Trying” and “Doing”

The Fear Soliloquy

Fear is a more effective motivator than I’d like to admit.

Ever since I was introduced to it several months ago, this quote from Jean-Paul Sartre has been a splinter in my brain:

You must be afraid, my son. That is how one becomes an honest citizen.

Off and on, usually at the most unexpected–and occasionally inconvenient–moments, I have pondered the truth of it. How does terror move people in a good way?

Lost in a series of hypothetical situations, a rampant imagination easily finds the worst possible scenario most of the time. How can that make someone “honest”?

I remember the moment I realized fear can be productive or unproductive.

A couple of weeks into 2010, with the freshness of a new job–one I’d desperately wanted–having fell through, I parked my car in the driveway. Still buckled in, I contemplated my frustration to the soft beat of raindrops on my windshield. Directionless and confused, I stared straight ahead for a few long seconds.

A tear rolled gently down my cheek and I quietly apologized to God.

Though I was unaware at the time, the moment represented a monumental shift in what I feared. After 30 years of being driven by what others thought, I had unwittingly chosen to be guided by something else: deeper meaning. And, of course, this is the point at which I let go of the desire to hide what I think and feel for the sake of my “image”.

Fear of this sort–defined by others’ evaluation–is misplaced love.

It’s an obsession with control I do not have, an infatuation with the misguided idea I can mold another’s thoughts without their influence. It requires an internal and unproven illusion of importance.

If I allowed this to run my life, I would keep whispering silently to myself in the halls of my own mind, hiding from the world despite how much it may benefit someone else.

What “scares” me now is separation from my purpose.

This first affected me when I diverted from a career in law into the health care field eight years ago. It is now the hallmark of my mindset in terms of writing to share what I see of the world and how I make sense of it.

As I took the initial steps in laying my cards on the table, the old fear nagged at me.

I became afraid of the ramifications of my actions, how it would change my relationships with people I dearly love. I picked a distant corner of the internet and went about discussing my metamorphosis.

No one was supposed to know.

Deep down, I was afraid I wasn’t good enough.

I still placed more value on the external world.

Finally, I stopped pretending these words were not a gift.

I am doing what God gave me a unique ability to do. I made a critical decision to be more afraid of letting Him down than anything else.

I connected my work to the public forums at my disposal and opened the door to my mind.

In turn, I have been blessed by the gratitude and encouragement of others.

Messages from all over, from friends and strangers alike, have shed a spotlight on something I knew all along. Thanks to them, I have slowly acknowledged my talent–in a manner so deliberate I am still growing into it. What I have been taught and accept more each day is this:

The point is not to be unafraid–bravery is merely the control of fear. The key is to be afraid in the right way.


The Fatigue Soliloquy

The Failure Soliloquy

The Focus Soliloquy

The Faith Soliloquy


Sorry, Life is Fair

See Your Original Face

One Thing’s Wrong

3 Lessons of the Olympian Life

Nodar KumaritashviliI abhor the phrase “At least he died doing something he loved.” It’s among the many platitudes that turn my stomach at funerals. In the case of young Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili, though, it is an appropriate statement.

Push aside the shock and sadness of this terrible event. Few, if any, could argue that 21 is anything other than “too soon” for a life to end. Further, though the inherent dangers of luge are many, death on the track is impermissible. We’ll ignore questions about the safety of the track, implications Canadians limited other teams training for a competitive advantage and outrage over the decision to name athlete error as the cause to focus on the things that make all Olympic athletes–simply by making it to the Games themselves–a success.

1. Figure Out A Dream
In order do do anything, a goal is necessary. You must have something to push your energies toward or you are simply drifting through life. Why get out of bed without consciously setting a target?

2. Put In Daily Work
Once you have something in mind, it’s time to buckle down and put your efforts toward it. Avoid the mistake of thinking you must leap from where you are to where you’re going. Olympians train years to even sniff an opportunity to participate in the quadrennial event. Listening to your national anthem from the top of medal stand as your country’s flag is pulled to the rafters is a thousand mile-road covered inches at a time. Millions of little steps cover great distances with a higher success rate than an Evel Knievel-style jump.

3. Manage Your Fear
You will face many challenges along the way. There will be mornings you’d rather stay in bed or painful injuries (physical or emotional) to heal. The only way to overcome these setbacks is to accept them, realize the unknown is inextricably linked to change and boldly tell the world “I will either win or die.”

Upon learning a family friend, one of my “other grandpas,” passed this morning. A question came to mind: How much does death teach us about a person?

A visibly shaken IOC President Jacques Rogge, at the press conference before the Opening Ceremonies, eulogized Kumaritashvili: “Here you have a young athlete who lost his life pursuing is passion.”

What would you do to be remembered that way?


2 Words Provide Perspective On Change

1 Thing To Remember

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