Tag Archives: Success

The Power of Failure

“You will fail. That’s great. Here’s a secret for you – that’s the only way you can learn. Learning has to cost you something.” -Stella Adler

In life, losing is part of growing. For organs to form during embryonic development, some cells must commit suicide. Without such programmed cell death, we would all be born with webbed feet like ducks.

Overcoming Success catch-22

In the novel Catch-22, a fighter pilot decides he no longer wants to continue flying combat missions. He realizes there is a high possibility that he can lose his life if he continues and so he decides that he has flown enough missions.

So he then goes on to talk to the military doctor and requests to be grounded. The doctor explains that he cannot ground him based on his physical health. The pilot then claims to be crazy so that he can be grounded for psychological reasons. Still, the doctor doesn’t buy it from the pilot or the other bomber crew members who all agree that the pilot is crazy.

The doctor calls this catch-22: The pilot isn’t crazy, he’s asking to be grounded, which is a rational self-preserving desire; however, he considers the other crew members crazy because they don’t ask to be grounded (an irrational life-threatening choice).

This paradox is a similar hurdle for anyone who wants to become really successful: the more people want to succeed, the more they try to avoid the very kind of experiences that will bring about the learning that is needed to be a long-term success.

NASA

NASA has used significant failure as an important qualification for selecting new recruits. When they were looking for potential candidates for the Apollo 11 lunar mission, they invited resumes from the American people. They first weeded out applicants based on academic qualifications but they still had several thousand candidates.

The next step was interesting. They weeded out all candidates who had not bounced back from a significant failure at some time in their life. The apparent premise was that a person who had failed and then gotten up again was a stronger contender then one who had never experienced failure.

The butterfly’s struggle

A man was watching a butterfly struggling to break out of its cocoon. After making some progress to work its way through a small hole, the butterfly appeared to simply stop its efforts. For some time it seemed to make no progress, so the man concluded it was stuck and decided to help it by forming a larger opening in the cocoon with scissors. Afterward the butterfly emerged easily but with small, shriveled wings and a swollen body.

It turns out that the struggle to emerge from the cocoon would have forced the fluid from the butterfly’s body into its wings, a necessary process for enabling it to fly. As a result of the man’s well-intentioned help, he had interfered with nature’s life-strengthening process. The butterfly was now doomed to never fly, but to crawl around with its swollen body and shriveled wing for the rest of its life.

We need failures in life to provide us with the opportunities to wrestle with the kind of challenge that can squeeze the life-giving fluid we need to strengthen our wings for successful flight in life.

The Abstract

The Cookies

When I get off from work in the morning -yeah, I work the graveyard shift- I’m usually craving some type of sweets. One week it was candy bars, the next week chips. One week it was donuts, but lately it’s been cookies.

So I’m driving around town looking for a shop where I can buy some freshly made cookies. It’s too much of a hassle to make ’em myself, plus I only want one or two. As I drive towards the freeway, I stumbled upon Panera bread. Before now, I’d never heard, or been into a Panera Bread and I would usually frequent Starbucks in the morning. But on this day, I wanted to try something new. So I went inside and was hit with the aroma of their seemingly endless variety of baked goods. It’s hard to make a choice between everything, but I know that I wanted cookies. After getting my cookies, I took a bite out of their toffee nut cookie immediately.

AMAZING!!

If I had to describe the taste, I’d say the cookie was a fragment of heaven manifested in my hands as a snack. Those that have been there know the taste. Before leaving, I couldn’t help but chat up the artisan baker who had made my day. I told her how great I think her creations were and how fresh they smelled and tasted. After giving her my sincere gratitude, she told me, “thanks, I cooked them overnight.”

After walking out the door, I was hit with a flash of thought.

 “LAST NIGHT!! I THOUGHT THESE WERE FRESH!!!”

In my head, freshly made cookies had to be straight off the cooling rack. They had to be straight out of the oven, and maybe sat down on the table to be chilled-no more than maybe 40-45mins old! Maybe it was just me, but if anything was made overnight, or the night before, it was always considered a leftover in my eyes.  Not to take anything from the quality of her cooking because the cookies were GREAT! I just had to think to myself.

“Of course she’d have to make the cookies overnight. She has loads of things that she has to cook for the customers in the morning. Duh!”

The Abstract

It was then that I realized how often in life, we have these vague notions of abstract concepts. Ideas like success, love, power, wealth, health, intelligence. We think we KNOW these things and that we know them very well. That we have an idea what success is, what love or fresh is, but we rarely do.

Imagine I went back in there and argued with her. But how stupid would I look? We’re talking two different definitions of fresh here!

Imagine you were traveling to another country, or continent, with a totally new culture. You meet one of their people and as you point to your stomach, you say, “Food!” And they go and bring you a bowl of insects. Better yet, if you’re a meat-eater and they go and bring you some rice. WTF!?

Define It

It’s said that everything is created twice. One time in the mind, the second time as the physical manifestation. In order to realize our dreams and see our love, ideas and etc. manifest, we’ve got to smooth out the edges of these pictures and images in our minds that are slighty rough around the edges.

What is love? What is fresh? What is success?

We each see these ideas differently, so it’s imperative that you get clear and define them so that you’ll be able to recognize them when you see/achieve them. How else will you know them when you see them?

How are your cookies? Are they everything you thought they would be?

Lessons From Eminem

I think Eminem’s achievements speak for themselves and it’s safe to say that he’s one of the greatest rappers to ever do it. When it comes to his craft, I don’t know too many that can match him. So what are the keys to his success?

Habits

I write a rhyme a day

So it’s no wonder your whole album

Is sounding like a whole bunch of shit that I would say

Eminem, still to this day, is ALWAYS writing (so I’ve heard). He doesn’t stop. Back in the days he and Proof would go back and forth just kicking rhymes to each other. Not too many rappers do this. Heck, some brag about not even writing AT ALL anymore, which is not always a good thing (ahem-Young Jeezy)!

They say it takes around 10,000 hours to master something. I’m sure Eminem is near his 10,000th hour, if not past it. Whatever your craft, there’s probably a core habit that it’s established around. How often do you practice it?

Perseverance

If you’re a hip hop head and you’ve spent enough time on YouTube, you’ve probably come across Eminem’s early battles. Yeah he did pretty great at the one of the rap olympics but did you see the others? Em vs. Juice, Em vs. Rhymefest, and I don’t know all the others. Em came up in hip hop the old-fashioned way: through battling. In battling you don’t always win, even if you come in with some prepared lines. Add in the fact that he was white and almost EVERY mc would use that against him. But he made it through. He battled time and time again, regardless of losses, regardless of the all the disrespect that came at the time for being a white rapper in the game after Vanilla Ice fucked it up for almost everyone after him. He kept pushing all the way to his last battle where he got disqualified for a curse. That was the moment where he was spotted by Dr. Dre.

Authenticity

Remember Em’s Infinite cd? No? Maybe? This was his first cd, before The Slim Shady LP. The one you’ve either gotta get from Amazon, Ebay or by downloading, unless you were lucky enough to get one of the originals that he pressed up. A lot of people aren’t too familiar with it. When he talks about it he says

“Obviously, I was young and influenced by other artists, and I got a lot of feedback saying that I sounded like Nas and AZ. ‘Infinite’ was me trying to figure out how I wanted my rap style to be, how I wanted to sound on the mic and present myself. It was a growing stage. I felt like ‘Infinite’ was like a demo that just got pressed up.”

It sounds nothing at all like the Eminem you hear today. In fact, his rhyme style and patterns sound a lot like that of AZ. After Infinite he had The Slim Shady Ep-which you may have never heard either- on which he sounded a bit like Jay-z. It sold even more poorly than his prior cd. Eminem didn’t blow until he released The Slim Shady Lp, on which he sounds like himself.

‘Weaknesses’ Into Strengths

Have you heard his dis track towards Mariah Carey, titled “The Warning?” Not only does he go all out on Mariah but he puts all his dirt out there as well

Listen, girly. Surely you don’t want me to talk about how I nutted early ’cause I ejaculated prematurely and bus all over your belly, and you almost started hurling and said I was gross, go get a towel you’re stomachs curling, or maybe you do?
But if i’m embarrassing me, i’m embarrassing you and don’t you dare say it isn’t true

The Warning-Eminem

Most of Eminem’s dirt is out there. When it’s time to battle him, you’ll either have to be mad creative or use some dumb mess that’s been said before that everyone already knows. I’ve seen him do this time and time again. You can see it in his 8-mile film on the last battle of his. During the battle even before Papa Doc  has a chance to diss Eminem in regards to his race, economic background, his childhood, him getting beat up or anything that would be seen as a negative in the hip hop culture, Eminem pulls his skeletons out the closet with  a smile on his face.

When it’s time for battle, Eminem has his perceived weaknesses exposed. He wears them with pride and they become part of his armor.

We talk a lot about weaknesses, but like problems, perhaps they’re really blessings in disguise. Like Kanye said, “All that I’m not makes me all that I am.”

Discipline

Eminem had once stated that he would stay up nights to read the dictionary in order to expand his vocabulary.

Who wants to read the dictionary?!

There are parts of every job that we don’t like as much as others, but you’ve got to remember why you’re doing what you’re doing and strong-will your way through those tasks.