“It’s ok to fail, just make sure to fail fast”
This is my own take on the more famous “fail fast, fail often”. I tweaked it a little because I’m not sure I want to fail that often. Maybe I’m a little scared, but I definitely think it’s important to fail every once in a while, and more importantly, do it fast. Failure will often set you up for success. The one thing in common between extremely successful people and not so successful ones, is they are all on a pile of failures, however, the more successful people are just standing on top of it. Recognizing failure is probably the toughest part though. No one really wants to admit it, but learning to recognize it is the only way you will be able to open yourself up to a new opportunity.
“There is only one way to avoid criticism: do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing”
Aristotle knew best. The Greek philosopher was definitely onto something here. It’s embedded in our DNA, it’s our nature to want to be accepted and to want to be liked. The problem here is that sometimes we censure ourselves a little too much for fear of hurting someone or looking stupid. When that happens we miss out on a big opportunity to show who we really are and how we feel about things. That time you held back during a meeting only to have someone say the exact same thing 10 seconds later. Sound familiar? We’ve all been there, but the reality is, not everyone is going to like you, and people will criticize you undoubtedly. With that in mind, do and say what you believe it’s right, listen to your gut.
“Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen”
This quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson has worked every single time in my life (and I’m not that special) so it must be true. Keep in mind we are not talking about mundane decisions here. If you decide you want to go the gym in the morning but don’t set your alarm clock, the universe will not conspire and bring Jillian Michaels to your doorstep to wake you up and give you a personal session. I’m talking about major life decisions fueled by passion. Often people tend to “wait for the right time” and believe things will find their way. Maybe I’m just not that patient, but I don’t believe in “waiting for the right time” or “being ready for it”. Take the jump, and then learn quickly and adapt as you grow (back to the “It’s okay to fail, just make sure to fail fast” quote.)
“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now”
This Chinese proverb is just so timely, and very simple. One of the biggest obstacles in achieving a goal is probably procrastination, and often times, procrastination is a result of demotivation. How many times have you decided not to do something, just because you should have probably started weeks, months or even years ago, so why bother now? That diet that you were going to start on Monday, the Yoga classes you were going to start on January first, but then NYE happened. There’s almost no question that the best time to start that diet was in fact on Monday, and the best time to start that Yoga class was really on January 1st. Why did you have drink so much eh? The point is, what is done is done, can’t change it, but now, right now, it’s definitely the best time to pick up where you left off. So do it.
And last but not least, and quite long actually, is a quote that I try to remind myself at least once a week. By the brilliant Steve Jobs:
“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.”
Ultimately, Jobs’ quote is a lovely Memento Mori – A Latin phrase for “remember that you have to die,” frequently used in art and literature to convey the temporary nature of life and all we do. It’s easier said than done, I get it. If it was that easy, we would all be opening our hearts out to that pretty girl in the elevator that just happens to get to work at the same time as you at least 3 days a week. Or even stepping up to the mic on karaoke happy hour night. If you want to get more serious here for a second, how about having that good talk with your boss about a promotion or a raise. However, the fear of rejection and embarrassment is unavoidable, and we all have it to some degree. Needless to say elevator girl won’t be hearing from me anytime soon. But the point I’m trying to make here is you don’t have to consult your fears about your cosmic insignificance for every single decision you make, but every once in a while, it’s worth to take a step back, center yourself, and think about what it’s really important. Everything else is just noise.