Wednesday, October 29, 2014

1-/29/14—Failing Beautifully

I was recently talking to one of my many gifted friends and she has been hesitating on really dialing up the heat beneath a career transition she's been kinda making for years. She's done the hard part. She quit her job years ago. But the pursuit of her new career and her passion passion has been slow. 

Sounds a lot like me, actually. 

So she says to me, "what if I screw up? What if I fail?" My reply was that screw ups and even failures are guaranteed. In fact, you WANT failure to happen to because failure is what gives shape to your successes. 

I've had the privilege to do what I love for 27 years. All but 10 of those years, I've been self employed. I think there's a fallacy out there that if you do what you love, the course will be smooth. You'll intuitively know what to do. You won't meet up against resistance. All the pieces will fall into place. You just have to get over your initial fears and leap. 

I don't know who feeds people that BS, but that's exactly what it is. 

Building a business is building a business, whether you love what you do, are just doing it because you believe it will be lucrative or are doing it because it's the only thing you feel you good enough at to do. Failure, embarrassments, screw ups and clients that run screaming are how you feel your way to what is right for you and your business. Bad decisions and nightmare projects help you define your target clientele. Doing a bunch of stuff that just. doesn't. work. is how you stumble upon the things that do. 

You could read all the books in the world about how to build, grow and run a business properly and you'll still make mistakes. You could be a successful entrepreneur and still eff up. In fact, experienced entrepreneurs don't even use the word failure. Instead, they call it experience. Or lessons. And if you want to do anything bad enough, you're going to have rack up some experience and education. 

What I know from my own experience is that I have undersold myself and oversold myself. I have failed to say the right thing and failed to say anything at all. I have ignored my inner voice and silenced my best judgment. I have disappointed others and disappointed myself. I have stood up for work that failed and failed to see the merit of work that succeeded. And because of that, I learned how to sell myself better (though this continues to be a weak spot for me,) share more professionally, follow my inner voice, have fewer disappointments and choose my battles more wisely. All of that came from failure. 

And you know what? After 17 years I STILL make mistakes, still make the *same* mistakes and still can't claim to do it right. But I'm mostly successful. There are some things I did right the first time...some lessons I never had to learn. And, even after all these years, there are some things I'm still learning. 

So that's what I mean about failure playing an integral role in shaping your successes and steering you toward the work that is right for you. Successful people don't get that way through success-only journeys. Their success comes more from how they see failure—as experience or education—and how they respond to it—by taking the information in without losing momentum. In a way, you're going to WANT to screw up and fail because, with each little kick in the groin, you get closer and closer to that vision you have in your head of the highly qualified professional who effortlessly handles any contingency. Plus, you may need to fail in order to hear the calling of something slightly different that is even MORE perfect for you. Personally, I'd rather be wrong and find my bliss than white knuckle my way to something I'm convinced will make me happy, only to find out it doesn't. 

And here's another bit of good news about failure. It comes in many flavors and degrees. But there's only one way to completely and bitterly fail at the pursuit of anything you want badly—never do anything about it in the first place. Everything else qualifies as education or dues. So if you've already started in, whether you've just begun researching your new endeavor or have fully hung your shingle, there's no way you can completely fail. All you can do is learn. 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

10/27/14—Making Quiche

Today's post is a repost of one I did last March. 

The perfect quiche? Getting there. 
One of the things I rarely mention in these posts is that I like to cook. I might only cook once, maybe twice, a week. But I do enjoy it. And since I'm all about the cooking from scratch, I put a lot of thought and planning into it so I'm fully prepared come "go time".

I'm probably more of a "good cook" than a fabulous or impressive cook. If I have anything to brag about, it's impeccable timing. Everything is ready to serve at the same time. I never gave myself much credit for this until I found out that others have an issue with it. I'm good at multitasking in the kitchen. I get into a zone. 

Anyway, one of the things I like to do is "perfect" dishes. To my own palate, of course. So for, say, six months, most of what I cook will be risotto. Or garlic mashed potatoes. Or brownies. Or chicken marsala. Basically, I cook something over and over again until I'm using the best ingredients, best proportions and best techniques to satisfy my tastebuds. Then I move on to the next thing. 

If you can't tell by the picture I posted, right now it's quiche. Currently I'm just working on the fillings. As it turns out, you can put too much cheese in quiche. That's what I've learned so far. I'd rather eyeball than measure when I cook, which kind of inhibits the perfection process. But really it's all for fun. When I get the nice custardy filling down, I'll start working on perfecting the crusts. Right now I'm ashamed to admit I use a refrigerated Pillsbury crust. 

A month ago. Ugly overcooked crust and too much cheese. 
Cooking the same thing over and over again is not just a Zen process, it also mirrors our spiritual
pursuits—we'll often cook the same issue over and over again until it's cooked right. Sometimes we put in too much cheese. Sometimes we cheat on the crust until we get the filling just right. Sometimes we can't figure out what we did wrong, so we just do whatever. With cooking I'll generally follow a recipe closely the first time and then start improvising. Same with when I'm working through spiritual lessons. I'll try to do it "the right way" (whatever that is) the first time to get a baseline, then I'll tailor to my individual needs. 

When I first made chicken marsala, it was perfect the first time. I didn't have to work hard on that. Some lessons just come to us and some don't. But then again, sometimes you think you're done exploring a recipe and once you get into the groove with it, you find it's still missing something. Then there are the dishes that give us indigestion or are inedible. If I were to keep following that same recipe over and over again thinking it would eventually taste better, I wouldn't be a very effective cook. And then there's the garlic mashed potatoes. I can't honestly claim I ever quite perfected that (though roasted garlic got me the closest to what I wanted). But I doubt anyone else would complain. Sometimes you just have to accept your limitations and let good enough be good enough. 

Outside of "stretch" and "persist", there really aren't any set ingredients—or even a recipe—for spiritual or personal growth. Pushing past your comfort zone (stretching) and continuing to try different ways (persisting) are like the salt and pepper of the spiritual world. They're good in everything. As long as you remain stocked up on those two, pretty much any dish you want to try will be the better for it.