September 28, 2015
All aboard and Merry Monday! Welcome back aboard the LifeTrain!
As you board the train the conductors handing you a white business card with black lettering. It reads:
“If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn’t sit for a month.” ~Theodore Roosevelt
Dear passengers, in a way I guess you could call today’s post “The Final Word” of the series I did last week on failing well.
The year was 1999 and I had been working as a senior manager for a major telecom carrier for several years. It was crisis management for the entire corporation. I managed communications for everything from IT, cable cuts,
Crisis management can be challenging…
risk management issues, training, internal and extra communications with all the major media networks, to corporate jet fleet communications and operations. The group was the NMCCC (Network Management Command and Control Center). My group was the pulse point of this major telecom corporation. Seriously, I could write a book about that experience. It was so demanding that a corporate psychologist was hired to see if one person should be in that position for more than 18 months. I was able to sustain though without becoming and alcoholic even! But Y2K was upon us and the entrepreneurial opportunity beckoned.
I imagined that on the final day I’d exit the office for the last time in a blaze of happiness and jubilation, thrilled that I’d finally taken the plunge. In reality, as soon as I walked out and the summer breeze hit my skin, I got an instant rush of sweaty palms and an uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach.
“Have I done the right thing? Am I making a massive mistake here?”
The momentum into self-employment had been planned for up to the month before. I’d go into local businesses and offer free sessions thinking that some would convert into paying clients.
It had worked for other IT MAVERICKS that I knew. By the time I left my job I had fourteen big businesses lined up to visit with my service offerings.
At the start of the week I was confident I was hitting the world of self-employment running. At the end of the week I was staring into the abyss;
fourteen businesses visited— four sign-ups.
I knew I was in a challenging situation when I was sat in my incubator office on a Tuesday morning, rain pouring down outside without the comfort of a large staff and support group.
In resilience science there is a concept called “critical slowing,” which states that a system is most vulnerable after a period of trauma with little time to recover.
I had a small staff but nothing like what I was used to in the comfort and
umbrella of big telecom. I was the bottom line. I say this laughingly, but I was the CEO without the golden parachute. Even though I had tons of things to get going I often felt like everyone else was at work, and I was spinning my wheels and in isolation. I was experiencing my critical slowing and facing a choice. Do I persevere forward or do I bathe in familiarity (aka – get a job)?
I frequently think back to that moment, the fear I felt, the uncertainty that suffocated every part of me. I think about where I’d be right now if, instead of brushing up on my marketing, I went straight to the job searching sites.
What helped me get through until ultimately I decided to return back to corporate America? Having 25 people looking at you for healthcare, vacation time, payroll taxes, hiring, firings and all the things that come with being a little Microsoft can be very challenging. But here are some lessons that I learned:
- Burning the boats.
In 1519 AD Spanish commander Hernan Cortes led his army to invade what is now known as Mexico. As he led his men to land, he instructed one of his officers to burn the boats behind them so they would have no choice but to fight forward.
While I was in no mood to invade anything, I took a cue from Cortes and made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t go back to the job I’d just left until I gave it my 100% best.
I knew if I gave myself the option of going back, there would be a chance I’d choose it because it was familiar, it was a regular income again, and I would have certainty again.
I put myself on a timeline. Set up the key indicators that would help me make my decision to return back to corporate America based on data and not emotions.
This meant contacting more companies and refining my message about what I was offering.
Lesson: In the height of emotion it is easy to choose the perceived easiest option. This tends to be what’s most familiar. Hold off on this option, as it could be leading you back to what you don’t want without really giving it your best shot and therefore leading to future regrets.
- Refining expectations.
It’s very easy when starting out in anything to compare yourself to people who’ve ‘made’ it—become a millionaire, gotten the body people desire, the fun experiences shown across their social media. Their success becomes your expectation.
I was the same, and it became incredibly draining, especially after my first week of what I call the tyranny of the urgency!
I found it important to reassess my expectations. Based on this new feedback of zero sign-ups after the financial windfall wave I rode during the Y2K scare, I had to reassess what it would be beneficial for me to focus on.
Lesson: Beware of what you’re comparing your reality with. Look at what you think should be happening and decide whether that’s actually helping you or hindering you. Failing is inevitable at some point; if your expectations are blind to this, it’s going to be a big shock.
- Keeping self-talk in check.
This is where knowing about psychology saved my skin. I knew that, just because I was thinking in a certain way that didn’t mean I had to take it as truth.
Let me tell you, when I was sitting in my office during that first week, people at work earning sure money, me being the bottom line on where the revenue would come from, I was not thinking, “Charles, you are on fire, you are doing well, this was a great decision!”
But I knew that thoughts tend to be mood-dependent, so I had the awareness to allow them to pass instead of letting them guide any decisions I needed to make right then.
As I moved around in different environments and my mood changed, my thoughts became more rational about what I needed to do. I began to think clearly again and developed new ideas on how to proceed.
Lesson: Just because you’re thinking it, that doesn’t mean it’s true. How you think in a happy mood will be completely different to how you think in a low mood. Recognize what’s the best mood to make a decision in and the moods in which it’s a terrible idea to make a decision.
Over the years, as I reflected on these three factors that helped me carry on, I noticed they were coping strategies that people chose in others areas as well.
For me, it was my uncertain first week of self-employment, but I saw it in people experiencing trouble in dieting, having trouble in their relationships, or simply going through a troubling period of their life.
The path back to control began in their head. The same is true for me.
The funny thing is I used to tell myself I was not a salesman. I soon found out that if I wanted to continue to eat and put gas in my car I would very quickly embrace salesmanship.
Being self-employed has its pros and cons, especially if your last name is Gates, Jobs, or Ford. Ultimately though my business card said Daniel. So I decided to return to the classroom of one of the colleges that had been a really good paying client. That was the proof of not burning boats or bridges.
Silhouette of hiking man jumping over the mountains
As I look back I’m glad I did it. And in retrospect it has actually made me a better employee and more appreciative employee. I’m not saying if someone came along again with the gazillion dollars worth of seed money that I wouldn’t take the plunge again. But, for now I can look back and say I gave it the old college try!
And! I came away with experiences for at least three books! Now if I could just find a ghost writer wiling to work on a contingency basis…Ha ha…
Hey passengers, Have a great week. Go forth and do great things!
All Aboard, The LifeTrain!
September 25, 2015
Hey Passengers, welcome back aboard the Train.
Today’s ride is part III of our look at how to “Fail Well”. I hope this series is of some help to you. I could actually keep parsing out many parts to this series but, unless you my fellow passengers say other wise, I will pause this series and move on to another station. Not to fret though, we shall return. In closing out for now I want to leave you with a collection of tips that I picked from my failing well archive. Read (Ride) on…
- If millions of others have gotten through failure, so will you. Don’t let ideals of perfectionism stunt your growth and do not compare yourself to success stories; those success stories contain many failures that never get spoken about.
- Don’t let failing bring you down. If you were determined and you failed, try again. A man who fought failure all his life but will always be remembered for his tenacity and endurance is Winston Churchill. He once said, “Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm”. And he lived out that belief despite tremendous odds.
- Don’t expect overnight miracles to occur. You can’t get over a huge setback fast but you can care for yourself while you mend and not dive deeper into despair. Remember that you’re not the first to fail, you won’t be the last, and you will bounce back again if you allow yourself. Yes, it is a choice to make, so choose to come back stronger.
- Count every trial as an act of courage, a small success in itself. Building persistence can accomplish enormous things and turn all the failed trials along the way into minor successes. A writer seeking to get published could pin up every rejection slip as proof that they’re a real writer, doing the job the way the job really works. A successful sales representative looks at the proportion of successes to failures and gets used to “No” most of the time as just part of the job.
The # one LifeTrain rule:
NEVER GIVE UP!!!
- Don’t take it as your failure if something was dependent on other people’s decisions and actions. If your project didn’t get accepted and was a good project, it still is a success. Many people fear “failure” in situations that are so unpredictable success and failure don’t apply to them at all.
- Lists and goal journals are really helpful for some people when failure seems to happen often. If failure derails your thinking processes and leaves you feeling anxious, use such props to steer you back on course again. There is no shame in using them, nobody expects fast and organized thinking to happen all of the time, and for some people it’s overwhelming to be expected to always think like that. Organize yourself well and things will seem less arduous to tackle when you get back on your feet.
- And if ever you find yourself thinking self-piteously: “I wish I were as lucky as X”, remember that luck is for leprechauns. Life is about good management, not luck.
- Step back a bit, give yourself some breathing room. One thing that can help cushion failure at something large is to do some small, easy things that you know you’ll succeed in, whatever they are. Steady, slow progressive success at something else, like learning to draw and not expecting a masterpiece but just to succeed at “draw something every day” or an easy exercise regimen like “walk daily at the most convenient time” can help to cushion the failure of a large project.
All Aboard! The LifeTrain!!!
September 21, 2015
As you board the Train today I give you a black and white business card…it reads:
I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.
Failure is a given in life; expecting to sail through without a hiccup is unrealistic and sets you up to fall harder when failure does happen. Avoiding failure also prevents you from focusing on gaining the resiliency needed to cope with it, a vital element of bouncing back.
It is unfortunate that in societies obsessed with success and achievement, failure can be made to feel like the worst thing that could ever happen to a person. The reality is that failure is commonplace but so is overcoming it and pushing through to more successful endeavors in the future. Even where a failure cannot be salvaged, there is always something to be learned from it. In my upcoming posts, you’ll learn a little about how to overcome failure through having the right attitude. At least that’s how your faithful conductor handles failure. When you don’t let the mishaps of life keep you down too long, then nobody else will be able to keep you down too long either.
A side note, everything that goes wrong is not your failure. When my mother passed I thought I was a failure as a son, what could I have done more of I thought. In reality, there was nothing I could’ve done to keep her on this earth one more single day. When my ex-wife left me in 2002 I searched and searched for a way to make myself think I was not a failure. In reality I wasn’t. See my post titled “Not even Apologies…”
Truth is passengers; everybody who hops the Train in life with us might not be with us until our last stop. It’s just a fact of life here on the LifeTrain.
Well…did I just digress? Laugh at life with me!
Dear Passengers, I am not sad when I share my life things…I am rejoicing that God brought me through…
So as Madea would say IN-TEE WAY…Let’s begin to look at failure for what it truly is and is not!
Expect mistakes. Life’s hard knocks are as common as life’s success knocks. To expect the process of living to always be smooth sailing is to invite a lack of realism into your life. It happens to the best of us. Failure helps to create balance in your life and presents an opportunity for personal growth. Accepting the inevitability that things won’t always go your way is an important part of avoiding becoming bitter and twisted, or of preventing yourself from simply resting on your laurels and never pushing further to realize your full potential. Learn to love finding out that you’re wrong about something. That’s not failure; its enlightenment and the path to finding the right way.
Consider reading up on how to control perfectionism if this behavioral trait is holding you back in life. Perfectionism causes us to fear failure and to feel we’re personally a failure when we’re faced with it. Seeking to always be perfect sows our own seeds of disappointment. Trying and failing is a much better teacher of what it means to be human than never trying and never succeeding.
Forget about how other people view you. Not only will any very obvious failure soon be yesterday’s news, but if you think other people are judging you (and maybe they are, maybe they aren’t), it won’t be long before they’re too busy worrying about their own failures to sling mud at yours. After all, everyone’s going to fail now and then; inflicting gloating on someone else has a way of boomeranging right back, a reality which serves as a natural form of tapering off constant criticism. And ultimately, what’s it matter what the critics think? Most of the time they haven’t a clue what effort has gone into what you’ve done and what you’re trying to achieve – it’s all too easy to be an expert critic without being privy to the inside information. Allow each failure to serve as an opportunity to strengthen your determination in the face of criticism. This is a far more positive and self-sustaining response than giving in to believing the often nasty and thoughtless things other people can say.
Well Passengers, I know I need to give this series to you in small edible bites so I will give you one more note and close this part for today’s ride. let’s just call today’s post part II of
I can’t tell you how many times man has said no…but, God said yes! So LET THEM TALK and tell you you can’t…God will say YOU CAN!!!
Remind yourself that you are good enough. Not believing we are good enough rests at the heart of fearing failure. Failures serve as proof of this greatest fear, causing us to want to withdraw and not try again for fear of being further exposed as inadequate and incapable. However, this fear is not founded in reality; nobody is perfect and everyone will err at various points in life. The real difference between people who become successful and overcome failure and those who do not comes down to how you manage failure and how you view its impact on you. Feeling inadequate is a commonplace human feeling that even very public, very successful people feel but they don’t let it keep them down. You are good enough; all you need is to give yourself the go-ahead to keep trying. Lastly, read the Biography of Henry Ford, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Madame CJ Walker and Robert Noyce to name just a few of our society success stories and see how they overcame failures. One thing’s for sure, they certainly “Failed Well!”
All Aboard! The LifeTrain!!!
September 18, 2015
In my opinion, the difference between successful people and un-successful people is their ability to “Fail Well” …C. Prince Daniel
Hey Passengers almost everything we do has elements of failure and success. I simply cannot tell you how many, many times I have failed at things in life. But, one thing I can thank the good Lord for is the ability he put in me to “FAIL WELL!” .
Over the years the ride on this Train, the LifeTrain (Blog) I have met some of the most amazing people. And I hate to say it but, some of my passengers could soar to even HIGHER heights if they would only learn to Fail Well. “SO”, as your conductor I have decided to stop the train at this station called “FAIL WELL”, USA. I want to coach you, my feellow passengers to take the time to get out of our tendency towards black-and-white thinking and appreciate what worked as well as what can be learned from what didn’t. Try to think about all the ways you are better because the failure happened: What did you learn? How did the experience help you?
As humans, we’re hardwired to experience strong physiological responses to failure. Our stomach clenches, palms sweat, shoulders pull down, heart rate increases, etc. These reactions trigger defensive mechanisms in our brain. The primary purpose of the defense is to expel the discomfort of the reaction at any cost and here is where we see blame, self-criticism, avoidance, and quick-fix reactions that generally undermine our learning at best and hurt those around us at worst. Pause. Wait for the amygdale reaction to pass. THEN choose how you will react to the situation.
Over the next few posts this week and maybe just a bit into next week we will look at how to Fail Well! So remember the following:
- “Failure happens all the time. It happens every day in practice. What makes you better is how you react to it.” Mia Hamm
- “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.” Steve Jobs
- “One who fears failure limits his activities. Failure is only the opportunity to more intelligently begin again.” Henry Ford
And in the meantime…Don’t worry, Be Happy!
All Aboard! The LifeTrain!!!
September 14, 2015
“Pain can change you, but that doesn’t mean it has to be a bad change. Take that pain and turn it into wisdom.” ~Unknown
Experiencing a death of someone, no matter how close you were to them, is a shock to the system. One moment you’re just drinking your morning cup of Joe and then suddenly, you’ve collided with the uncertainty of existence.
Daily, we do everything we can to numb ourselves from our own fragility, but sudden death reminds us all that impermanence is still there under the surface, throbbing. The other day, I received a phone call from a close friend. He asked me how I was and we exchanged the usual pleasantries, until, he dropped a bomb.
“You should know, Stella died in her sleep last week.”
After the phone call and initial shock died down I let myself remember that she [Stella] was more than a percentage or trending story on Facebook, but a beating heart. I let myself delve into the
logic of diminished emotions justifying holding back sadness by offering to myself that death is a part of life….
Then I reminded myself: it’s okay to let yourself be affected by things.
Acknowledging tragedy puts our own fragile existences into question, and it forces us to face that we could’ve been the one who died suddenly. That is a scary realization, but I say let it scare you. Let it put a fire under you. Let your limited time on this train propel you down the tracks toward your dreams with incalculable fervor. Perhaps most importantly, let it make you grateful for the people around you who bring joy and laughter and love into your world, however fleeting. Enjoy your time on the Train, the LifeTrain because we just never know when our last stop will be.
Why the above…Check this piece out by Mark Anthony:
Life Is Like A Journey On A Train
Life is like a journey on a train… with its stations… with changes of routes… and with accidents!
At birth we boarded the train and met our parents, and we believe they will always travel on our side.
However, at some station our parents will step down from the train, leaving us on this journey alone.
As time goes by, other people will board the train; and they will be significant i.e. our siblings, friends, children, and even the love of our life. Many will step down and leave a permanent vacuum. Others will go so unnoticed that we don’t realize that they vacated their seats!
Shower the people you know with love…
This train ride will be full of joy, sorrow, fantasy, expectations, hellos, goodbyes, and farewells.
Success consists of having a good relationship with all the passengers…requiring that we give the best of ourselves.
The mystery to everyone is:
We do not know at which station we ourselves will step down.
So, we must live in the best way – love, forgive, and offer the best of who we are.
It is important to do this because when the time comes for us to step down and leave our seat empty –
we should leave behind beautiful memories for those who will continue to travel on the train of life.
I wish you a joyful journey for the coming year on the train of life. Reap success and give lots of love.
More importantly, thank God for the journey!
Lastly, I thank you for being one of the passengers on my train!
All Aboard..The LifeTrain
September 8, 2015
ALL ABOARD! Don’t forget you can read & Listen…see radio button upper right…
I felt like some got this the first time and some didn’t quite see what I was saying. So I thought I’d recycle to see if there are any other perspectives.
Today I’d like to share one of my Chuckie-isms with you. In my own mind I’d like to be remembered as one of the great philosophizers of our time. HEY!!! Stop laughing…on the Net everyone can be a star (LOL!).
Anyway, today I’d like to talk about eggs, my eggs. When I meet someone that I think I might be seriously interested in I have to consider a couple of things. First will there be rejection, and can I trust this person with my eggs. Let me share, I have these dozen (metaphorically speaking) eggs. On each of these eggs is written one word. These words represent what I need. To share a few there are the words, attention, acceptance, appreciation, affection – and respect, respect for each other’s deepest needs and wishes – Those are the things I look for during the foundation setting phase of my potential relationship.
As I age, I now realize that love is not based on the amount of adrenaline we feel coursing through our bodies, but rather, if we find the needs present in some of the words written on my(our) eggs. I know I love someone when I am trusting in that person to give them my dozen eggs to safeguard and I they love me when they give me their eggs in return.
As you know eggs are fragile and have to handled with care. Once broken it is impossible to put them back together again as the nursery rhyme goes. Unfortunately, one of the few times I thought I was in love, I think I mistook that first rush of hormones for true love. But that can’t be our ultimate test of whether love is real.
Anyway, learn your eggs, protect your eggs…they are the most valuable things you have…once broken…they get harder and harder to replace.
I spoke of rejection earlier. Because fear of rejection is one of the most powerful fears known to man (and woman). It’s like a dream many people have. Basically, you take your eggs and step out onto a tightrope to inch towards a person you want to love. You’re holding your eggs, six in one, six in the other for balance. These are the eggs you plan to give to that special someone. Sometimes, halfway across the rope you realize the person has turned their back on you. You might start to lose your balance, and worst of all, you might feel a little stupid. Finally…you just fall…and then you wake up to reality. Fortunately there is help and hope if you just remember a couple of things…and here comes another Chuckie-ism. As smart boxers do, take the eight count…more on that later. But, basically just accept the fact that you just got knocked down.
What I did, and what I want to share with you, is get up, brush off and remember. Realize that you simply must filter out unmotivated, commitment phobic, time wasters. As TD Jakes said, and what I subscribe to is:
Killer Movie buy
There are people who can walk away from you. And hear me when I tell you this! When people can walk away from you: let them walk.Â I don’t want you to try to talk another person into staying with you, loving you, calling you, caring about you, coming to see you, staying attached to you. I mean hang up the phone. When people can walk away from you let them walk. Your destiny is never tied to anybody that left.
Well, in closing…you might be wondering where or what is this week’s topic coming from, “Relationships”. I have more than a few close friends going through some things and as your “humble” conductor I just want to send out a few thoughts not a sermon.
I write from the Heart, I make no excuses… C. Prince Daniel
All Aboard…The LiFeTrain!
September 1, 2015
Hey Passengers we need to visit with our LifeTrain resident Lawyer Attorney Ewing Carter III (www.ecarterlaw.com)! And just what train do you know of that has its own legal car! Boy I tell you, I just love being the conductor of this here Train! Today we find out what Attorney EC III advice is on driving this Labor Day holiday weekend! All Aboard!
In the North Carolina Piedmont Triad area: www.EcarterLaw.com
Well, the long weekend of rest for us laborers is upon us. For many folks that means driving to cook-outs, family get-togethers, social outings, etc. So, let’s not ignore that white elephant in the legal car, Drinking and driving! This is especially high during this weekend, thus the reason for this discussion.
Chuckie: Attorney Ewing Carter III, good day my good man.
EC III: You trippin…as usual.
Chuckie: What for-uth does thine sayth thine kind and knowledgeable sir?
Ewing: Guess you want one of these snickers huh? [passing me a snickers from the bowl on his desk]
Chuckie: Well, it will transform me back to the athlete you wish you could’ve been!
EC III: In your dreams dude, now what’s the question?
Chuckie: Well this weekend when you are in the Lexus driving home after “The Law office of Ewing Carter III annual labor day cook-out, how will the law know you’ve had too much to drink before you drive?
EC III: Well first of all I will be glad when that snickers kicks in Dumb Dumb! I can assure you I will be the last person on earth caught drinking and driving. Trust me, as part of my job I see the repercussions up close and in person. Anyway, in most all fifty states, if a person is operating a motor vehicle and their blood alcohol content (BAC) is .08 or higher, they can be charged with
driving while impaired (DWI) / driving under the influence (DUI). A key consideration is that you can be impaired by any substance you ingest (alcohol, illegal drugs, and even prescription drugs). Generally, the “Officer of the Peace ,“ (policeman, Sheriff, DMV officer, Park Ranger, etc.) can make the decision to stop and investigate a person, if he/she has a “reasonable suspicion” to believe that the person is driving while subject to an impairing substance. Tell-tale signs are: weaving, speeding, driving too slowly, making too wide of a turn, just to name a few.
Chuckie: What should I do or say if I am stopped for DWI?
EC III: Well do what you did the last time, start crying and call me.
EC III: Seriously though, be as cooperative as possible. The officer will ask for your driver’s license and vehicle registration. He will be developing an opinion about “you”
Not worth the chance….
to determine to whether further investigation is warranted. Noted signs of impairment are: slurred speech, obvious odor of alcohol, disheveled clothing, and bloodshot eyes.
Chuckie: If the officer asks me to take a breathalyzer test, should I comply, or refuse?
EC III: The decision is totally yours to make. However, there are some facts you should consider:
- Driving is a privilege, and not a constitutional right.
- Because driving is a privilege, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) determines under what circumstance a person can operate a motor vehicle along the road and highways of their state.
- If you decide to refuse to take the breath test, the DMV will revoke your privilege to drive for a certain period of time. This revocation is generally for one (1) year. However, obtaining a Driving Privilege in order to drive back and forth to work can be obtained from the Court. In North Carolina, if you refuse the breath test, there is a 6-month waiting period before becoming eligible for the Driving Privilege. Conversely, if you take the test, and your BAC in not excessive (.14 or lower), then there is no waiting period for the Driving Privilege.
Chuckie: Whew, I guess the best thing is just not go there in the first place.
EC III: Let me record this time and date. The first time you ever said something that made sense.
Chuckie: I’m about to roll the credits on this interview. We taking this to the Racket ball court!
EC III: I’ll drive, you’ve obviously been drinking!