Blog post cover art that has confetti falling with overlay text that says celebrate failure

As I sit down to review my 2021 goals, I realize all I set out to do that I didn’t accomplish … that means it’s time to celebrate failure!

Understanding Failure

Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts. – Winston Churchill

It should come as no surprise that I set pretty lofty goals

As we look to wrap up an incredibly fast-moving 2021, I’m sitting down to review some of the goals I set for myself and my business. Blog post cover art that has confetti falling with overlay text that says celebrate failure

I attained relatively few of what I set out to accomplish, but I’m here to tell you that’s a good thing. It means I get to celebrate failure. And while not pleasant (or natural) it is what will keep me going in the new year.

And it is the best-kept secret of the ultra-successful.

Learning to Walk

What happens when a baby is learning to walk?

It falls over.

A lot.

No parent, in their right mind, would see their baby fall and just assume walking isn’t for them.

Well, sweetie, you tried walking once and failed. Clearly, you’re not meant to be a walker.

Ridiculous.

Instead, we pick them up. Celebrate that they were at least able to stand by themselves, and then make them try again.

Then we celebrate the first step.

The second.

Third.

Fourth.

And soon, they are running around and we just pray we can keep up.

But each milestone comes with a celebration, even in the midst of failure.

Unfortunately, somewhere along the way, we stop finding that so natural. Instead, we beat ourselves up and become our own worst critic.

(Re)Learning to celebrate failure pushes us to keep reaching for our goals and makes the status of “mission accomplished” that much more enjoyable.

Celebrate Failure

So, where am I celebrating failure as we wrap up 2021?

Here are a few of my personal highlights.

1.) Books Read

I made a goal to read 70 books this year. While I have a few weeks left, the final number will be somewhere around 40. That’s down from last year and significantly short of my goal.

So what I am celebrating? First, the quality (and most of the time length) of books I read went up. The biography of Alexander Hamilton was over 800 pages. These sorts of endeavors take longer than one or two hundred page books.

Second, I’m celebrating more implementation of these ideas. My homesteading and gardening have improved significantly. The time I could have spent reading was spent outside doing. I could say the same for my speaking content, parenting, and relationship with my wife.

Action trumps knowledge.

2.) Income generated

Wait, what? You want to celebrate not making your financial targets!?!

Well no, not really. This is one of those times where I say it’s necessary but not natural. To be honest, though, I set a really lofty goal. I more than doubled any of my previous financial goals.

And while I won’t hit that number, I can say I made significant growth over 2020 (though that wasn’t hard with a worldwide pandemic and all 😬😂).

More than my business growth, I focused on filling the need in my micro-niche. I also focused on helping others grow their businesses and their dreams. I feel as though I have succeeded at those as well.

So yes, while I didn’t hit my wild-crazy number, I did make a lot of progress in my own profession and in those, I work with.

Service trump selfishness.

3.) An amazing vacation

Maybe the hardest one for me to admit I need to celebrate is that our family won’t be taking the big fancy vacation I hoped for at the start of the year. Some of it is still certainly pandemic related, but most of it is a change in our own values. Instead, my family has simplified it’s values (and living) and adjusted the way we interact with things.

One of those big differences for me is better work-life balance. Gone (mostly) are the days of working until 8-9 pm, and starting again at 4 am. Instead, over 90% of the time, I’m done working between 4 and 5 pm. 

(This also partly explains number two above).

My kids have quality time with me almost every day.

I attended my daughter’s volleyball games.

I read books to my kids (though I’m not counting those to help me get to 70). 

I spent more time snuggling, instructing, teaching, laughing, and building.

I’ve also taken my wife on more dates this year than our previous 15 combined.

So do we get a fancy two-week vacation? No. But we are gaining so much more.

Quality trumps quantity.

I’m off to celebrate and set even bigger goals for next year.

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Woman with head in hands looking in the mirror dejected with text overlay the story we tell ourselves. Blog post cover art.

The story we tell ourselves, our internal narrative about the way we are, determines the trajectory of our story.

Understanding the Programming

Early on in life, we all start to acquire an internal narrative, programming, about the way we are. This identity-shaping story becomes one of the largest determining factors in who we end up becoming. From an early age, we all start to experience those labels.

We’ve all been called things like:

worthless

good for nothing

late

nerdy

oddly small

too short

freakishly tall

too big

ugly.

The words may start off as meaningless but slowly, after hearing them enough, they become an accepted part of our worldview.

We all know the person who heard, “You’ll never amount to anything” growing up. Pretty soon, they would be saying, “I’ll never amount to anything.” In the blink of an eye, they had given up on their dreams, settled for less than they were worth, and didn’t amount to anything compared to their true potential.

It’s a heartbreaking reality for many of us.

The good news is that not only can that destructive cycle be broken, but what is true of negative stories is also true of positive ones.

Telling a Better Story

If we want to reach our dreams, we have to be willing to rewrite the story we tell ourselves.

The hard work of personal growth happens internally. Putting in the time, effort, and energy into filling our minds with good things.

It involves telling yourself:

I am competent Woman with head in hands looking in the mirror dejected with text overlay the story we tell ourselves. Blog post cover art.

beautiful

loved

admirable

strong

hard-working

driven

successful

capable.

The story we tell ourselves influences the person we will ultimately become.

The Story We Tell Ourselves

I was working with a client recently on this idea and explained to him the three camps we can fall into.

1.) We have a negative story and believe it.

This is like the first example. The story we heard growing up is the story we believe. We are somehow not enough, unloved, unworthy, or pitiful. 

In coaching, I see this story all the time. It’s one of the main reasons people don’t achieve the goals they start out with.

Why would a lazy, good-for-nothing, unlovable, unworthy, pitiful person try something as grandiose as starting their own business?

It probably wouldn’t work anyway.

In reality, they have everything they need and are totally capable of amazing success. The problem is not they have believed the lies.

2.) We have a positive story and believe it.

These are the fun ones. The easy ones. They already believe the right things. These people know that they are strong, competent, and capable. They are able to set goals and achieve them because they believe in their ability to accomplish hard tasks.

3.) We don’t know what to believe.

This is the place where my client found himself. The bad news was that he didn’t have a positive story about himself. However, the good news, was that he didn’t have a negative view of himself.

He was somewhere in the middle. Drifting in the open ocean with no paddle, he didn’t know which way to go. I asked him to come up with five adjectives to describe himself he knew to be true.

He couldn’t give me any.

It should be no surprise then, that goals have been hard for him. Without the confidence and clear direction of knowing what to believe, he has trouble setting and staying accountable to goals. Without knowing the truth about himself, he doesn’t know what direction to pursue.

The story we tell ourselves matters.

Get clear on what you believe, not just about the world, but about yourself.

Give yourself positive imagery to believe about yourself and put it into practice. How would you, the strong, competent, capable person you are solve this problem? Once you believe that, you’ll crush any goal in your path.


Accountability is important. Want help reaching your goals and changing the trajectory of your life? Try coaching!

Reach out to me to schedule a complimentary session today.

Building With Purpose Conference 2021

 

Life in the garden blog post cover image. A row of vegetables planted in dirt.

I have spent much of my life in the garden. What I have discovered in the soil holds true in my soul: the time spent pruning, watering, and nurturing is never wasted.

Life in the Garden

As a kid growing up on the plains of central Kansas, I spent much of my time in the garden. My family grew a fair amount of our own food, and it was usually one of my daily tasks to spend a certain amount of time clearing the weeds from the produce.

Strawberries.

Rhubarb.

Tomatoes.

Carrots.

Beans

Cucumbers.

Peas

Corn.

We grew a whole variety of food. However, it wouldn’t take long in the humid days of summer to see weeds grow up right along with the crops.

So for thirty minutes every day, I’d be out there making sure only the good stuff grew.

As I got older, I started to hate it more. As a teenager, there were thousands of other places I’d rather be than in the garden doing work. Life in the garden blog post cover image. A row of vegetables planted in dirt.

Now, as an adult, I wish I had more time to devote to my own garden. The thirty minutes a week are far too few.

However, my time in the garden has made me realize the many ways I want to cultivate a fruitful and bountiful personal life.

Here are three takeaways from my life in the garden.

1.) Remove the bad, harmful, and damaging weeds.

I’ve already mentioned my disdain for gardening as a child. Part of it was my allergies. They were so bad growing up, my eyes would swell shut and I found it difficult to breathe. There were many days where a family member would have to escort me around the house because I couldn’t see, my eyes crusted over with goop.

If it were like that inside the house, you can imagine how bad actually having my face near the plants.

However, in those brief moments where I could concentrate and focus on getting something accomplished on a row of cucumbers, I always took satisfaction in seeing progress.

Weeding gave two primary benefits: clear signs of work done, and better yields.

In our own lives as leaders, we see the same benefit. When we weed out the poor, distracting, bad, harmful, and damaging ‘weeds’ of our lives, we see clear progress and get better yields.

Our souls are full of many bad weeds.

Pride.

Arrogance

Destructive relationships.

Bad habits.

False mental beliefs.

Spending time in coaching, counseling, mentorship, business alliances, and other thought-provoking and challenging ideas weeds out these self-perceived limits and gives the good, nurturing fruit of leadership space to grow.

2.) Prune and nurture the good.

As you clear out the weeds, you give the good fruit space to grow. At the same time, this good stuff needs to be pruned, fed, and watered. Carefully cutting off areas of less productivity and overgrowth gives the main plant more time to thrive.

In the garden, watering and fertilizing your plants also leads to bigger yields.

For the garden of your soul, the same beneficial steps need to be taken.

Limit the amount of ‘good’ in your life to pursue the ‘great.’

Take control of your calendar to get more of the right things done (and not just more things).

Limit (and eliminate) time with people who drain you, your time, and your resources.

Spend time with people who bring your more life, vitality, abundance, and joy.

3.) Cultivate beneficial species together.

A lesson I learned early from my life in the garden is the power of beneficial and antagonistic plants. In my raised beds, I made the mistake of planting tomatoes and cabbage too close together.

While it seems like no big deal, in terms of plant production, it was a very big deal.

My main tomato plants, living next to beneficial plants, grew and thrived. I was harvesting tomatoes and cucumbers on a regular basis.

The tomatoes that were planted near the cabbage resulted in both plant species struggling. The cabbage never had more than a few leaves, and the tomatoes stopped growing after a foot and never produced fruit.

Thankfully, I was able to transplant the cabbage, and now both are thriving (well away from each other).

Plants need the right environment to survive. This includes their relationships with other plants.

In our own lives, we have the same problems. When we are too near negative thinking, small-mindedness, hypocrisy, anger, judgment, fear, and limiting beliefs, we start to adapt to the same. Just like in my garden, there is a general failure to thrive when we are in the wrong environments.

Removing that negativity from your life and exposing yourself to like-minded people and beneficial thoughts results in more of the same.

Expose yourself to positive and be positive.

What about you? How have you seen one of your hobbies benefit you in your professional life?

exhausted person with head on desk with overlay text change is constant growth is optional. blog post cover photo

One of the major lessons I’ve been reminded of these last 18 months is that change is constant, while growth is optional.

The unrelenting pace of life can seem overwhelming at times. Late in 2019, things were looking good for many of us. The business sector was strong, plans were in place, and we were excited for a new year.

Then 2020 happened.

We saw the economy derail.

There was political upheaval.

Civil unrest.

A pandemic.

Followed by a recession.

Job loss.

Cancelled plans and changed futures were a new reality.

Fear.

Worry. exhausted person with head on desk with overlay text change is constant growth is optional. blog post cover photo

Doubt.

2021 brought new hope that maybe things could be different.

There was a glimmer of hope.

In many ways, that has yet to be realized as the delta variant as more of the same from 2020 continues.

Throughout it all, I’ve been reminded that change is constant, growth is optional.

Change is Constant, Growth is Optional

In another recent blog post, I talked about asking the question, “Do you want to change?”

The basic idea is that as a coach, I can do a lot of things for you. What I can’t do, is make you want to change. You have to bring that to the coaching relationship.

In order to get to the place where we want to change, we first have to realize that change is constant.

I was reflecting on this the other night as I went on my nightly walk with my dog. Every night, I take for granted that I walk the same route, at the same time, at the same speed, seven days a week.

Because of this, I “feel” like I have a lot of control over that schedule.

Until a few nights ago when a German shepherd on the loos ran at our dog and got ready to attack him.

As I quickly tried to weigh my options I realized for a second that I was stuck in indecision.

Should I let my dog be attacked?

That dog is big, and running fast, what do I do?

Do I sacrifice myself in front of the dog?

I have a stun gun with me, should I use it on this dog?

As I quickly tried to process my options (and readied myself to deploy the stun gun), the dog’s owner came running around the corner yelling at his dog to get back in the yard.

Thankfully, after one quick nip that left our dog unhurt, the German shepherd ran away and went home.

I finished the walk, taking a shortcut home, to return to the safe confines of my home.

When Things Change Quickly

That night reminded me that things change quickly.

All the time, not just in 2020.

A medical diagnosis changes our healthy lifestyle in an instant.

That fight with a friend ends a long time relationship.

When a downturn in the economy finds us unemployed.

A severe storm cancels a planned day at the park.

Whatever it is, we walk around with this belief that we are in more control than we really are.

That’s not to sound fatalistic or depressed, it’s said to acknowledge the reality of life.

And its fragility.

The car accident leads to years of rehab that was certainly never planned (or hoped) for, yet for millions of Americans, it will be a reality this year.

Change happens every day.

Most days it is small, which is why it feels so manageable.

But every now and then, we are reminded of how big the universe is … and how small we are.

A big change hits and our life looks forever different moving forward.

Change Your Perspective

That’s why it’s helpful to change your perspective.

We don’t ‘manage change.’

We can’t even try to control it.

Instead, look for ways to grow through it.

Adapt.

Improvise.

Overcome.

Realize that you’ve made it through 100% of what life has thrown at you already, so chances are high you’ll make it through this next change too.

Planned or not.

Big or small.

Change is constant, growth is optional.

Blog post cover photo abundant generosity text over a coin jar with a plant

The capstone of great leadership is a life capable of resisting burnout, and that happens through a life of abundant generosity.

You cannot have that, without financial health.

Ultimately, you will never be able to fully resist the pitfall of burnout if your financial life is in order.

Getting Started

In the early days of my coaching practice, this is exactly where I found myself. I wanted to be there fully for my clients, but often wondered how quickly they were going to pay. If it wasn’t soon, I wasn’t going to be able to pay my bills. That sort of internal struggle makes it hard to be fully present.

Maybe you can relate. Maybe you’ve woken up with a knot in your stomach wondering how you were going to make it through the growing pile of bills.

If you’ve ever lived at a point of having more month than money, you know the stress of too little money.

But a life free of burnout goes one step farther. It’s never just about having enough money, it’s about giving back. To be free from burnout as a leader, you give of your time, your resources, your skills, and your expertise. The final commitment is to give your money.

Great leaders not only get their financial life in order, but they also practice living a life of Abundant Generosity.

Abundant Generosity

Abundant generosity is about giving extravagantly. It’s charitable giving, yes, but it’s so much more. It is the openness and willingness to propel others to their own successes.

Abundant generosity is a joyful state of abundance.

It calls for greatness out of yourself and others. Blog post cover photo abundant generosity text over a coin jar with a plant

Abundant generosity opens up the well deep within your soul to provide monetary donations, wisdom, and acts of service to better the causes, communities, and people you care about most.

A number of years ago, I changed part of my pricing package to include a “generosity” option. In short, when people purchase a certain coaching contract with me, I move part of that money into a separate fund that provides scholarships for people that can’t afford full coaching services.

The individual receiving coaching wins by receiving free or discounted coaching services.

I win because I get to help more people.

The person who made the donation wins because they get to practice abundant generosity.

But as I’ve said, finances are only a part of the picture. Sometimes, they know the person who receives coaching. They nominate someone in their organization who then gets the added benefit of a promotion because of their growth through the coaching process.

The end result is a recurring cycle of growth in individuals and organizations where all are giving and receiving. Abundant generosity, in this case, is about bettering the community.

As we wrap up this eleven-part series, I want to encourage you to practice abundant generosity where you have the chance. Give freely and deeply. Bless others. With your money, your time, your gifts, your resources, your network, your business, and your passion.

Start by freeing yourself from the burden of debt. Then, accumulate as much knowledge as you can and give it all away.


The Wrap Up

If you or someone you know is facing burnout, please get help. Email me to set up your first appointment.

Looking for more ways to fight against burnout? Here are 50 self-care tips.

 Want the entire series as a Kindle book? Go here.