Tag Archives: failure

I Have Something To Confess, How About You?

I hate cooking!

I sat down in my steaming hot kitchen, put my head in my hands and cried.

My face was flaming, there was ‘stuff’ on every work surface, recipe books were smeared with flour, the oven was working away, dishes were piled up, dirty pans that won’t go in the dish washer waited,  and I was in despair.

We were giving a ‘dinner party’ for  six guests (I know, not exactly a crowd) and I’d been running round in circles since early morning. I thought I’d been looking forward to it. I’d written my lists, done the shopping, even  laid the table. But the fact remained – I was in tears.

Apparently I’m not alone.  A recent press survey reported that many of us find the whole dinner party thing more stressful than seeing the bank manager or commuting to work!

So what’s the problem?

Here’s my Positive Spin.

  • I don’t like being ‘judged’.

There are so many cookery shows on TV and it looks so easy! They’re run by real chefs, all with years of training and experience,  owning  successful restaurants. Of course their meals are amazing. That’s what their diners expect! Of course I can’t match their expertise. But somehow, when I have friends around for dinner, because I’m not a natural cook, I feel judged.

  • I don’t want to ‘fail’.

I feel embarrassed if my roast potatoes aren’t perfect, my sauce has lumps (surely not!) or the steaks are over/undercooked. I worry that my menu won’t live up to expectations.

  • I feel out of my depth.

At the last dinner party I went to there were three desserts.  I just can’t compete!  What will they say if I only produce one! I don’t know how to make filo pastry by hand, unlike my talented friend. I’ve not mastered the art of home-made ice cream or perfect cheesecake.

And so it goes on.

So! What can I do about it?

  • I need to get ‘real’.

Sharing a meal is a way to get together and enjoy one another’s company. If cooking for a dinner party puts me out of my depth then I need to be very brave and say, ‘ We’d love to see you for dinner. I’m not too confident about cooking so we’d like to take you out instead.’

It doesn’t have to cost a fortune, there are plenty of great pubs in the UK that serve moderately priced meals and even more choices in the US.

  • I can cheat!

There’s an amazing array of food out there, ready cooked. Indian food is especially plentiful and not expensive. I’ve found fantastic savoury pies, casseroles and pasta dishes on sale in some butchers’ shops, along with fruit pies, crumbles and mousse. Sometimes I buy the main course but make the dessert. Or I make a really easy but tasty and interesting starter.

I always tell my friends that I cheated and they don’t turn a hair. At least, not so far as I can tell. It’s their company that’s the most important part of the evening.

  • I must live in the real world.

Everyone has skills. Everyone. Not everyone is an expert cook, home decorator,  dress-maker…. whatever. It’s time  to stop stressing about it and simply confess that I don’t enjoy trying to cook restaurant style food for guests. It’s silly to pretend otherwise.

There! That feels better…

How about you?

Is there anything you need to confess? Go on, you know you want to…

You’ll feel so much better if you do!

Header image by cursedthing, post pic by lisaclarke, on Flickr.

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How Failure Can Turn You Into A Happy Bunny (Part 3)

My stomach churns.  

I hardly dare look.  

She hands me the pages.  

Covered with red ink.  

‘It’s good so far’, she says. ‘But may I make a few suggestions?’  

No… it wasn’t my Maths homework. This happened about two weeks ago. It was the first draft of my book, edited by a professional editor.  

‘I’d like you to do some more research. It’ll add a lot to the book, but…. it’s your work, you must decide what’s best.’  

I was not a happy bunny.  

It felt exactly the same as having my Maths homework returned with loads of corrections to do.  

Let’s face it – my pride was hurt.  

Why wasn’t it OK as it was?  

Why did I have to do more research?  

Why wasn’t it a masterpiece already?  

   

Picture the scene two weeks later.  

I’d researched for hours on the net, added several thousand words, re-arranged some of the chapters, changed some titles and felt quietly confident with the result. In short –  

I was a happy bunny.  

I knew she was right...

 

No-one likes to be corrected. Not really.  

Especially as an adult.  

It’s hard to admit when we haven’t got it quite right and need to do more work.  

But failing to write the perfect ‘first draft’ of my book taught me a lesson.  

It also illustrated the last two of my…  

6 Reasons That Failure Is Good For You.  

5.   ‘Failure’ shows you how you can, and should, improve.  

      Just when you think you’ve got it right, perhaps you haven’t.  Perhaps you ‘could do better’.  

6.   Failure shows you that nothing achieved easily brings satisfaction.  

I shall be so proud when I truly have finished and my editor tells me it’s ready for publication.  

    

Over to you!  

  • What have you worked extra hard on and finally completed with pride?
  • What have you failed at but secretly known you should have done more to succeed?
  • What has failure, in any sense, taught you?

All thoughts in the comments please!  

   

Header image by abyreed on Flickr.  

Rabbit photo by hans s on Flickr.  

   

 

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Hey! Failure’s OK! (Part 2)

   

from Schlusselbein2007

 

‘I can’t do it!’  

‘I’ll never be able to.’  

‘I’m rubbish at writing.’  

Steven threw down his pencil.  

I could see how red his face was.  

Tears weren’t far away.  

Many years and no doubt many tears later I met his mum in a local restaurant.  

‘It’s so good to see you again!’ she beamed.  

I listened while she told me with great pride, that Steven had just passed his law degree. A ‘2.1’.  A huge achievement for a dyslexic student.  

I learnt a lesson that day, a lesson about failure.  

   

Last week I wrote about my first two reasons why Failure is Good For You.  

Here are the next two:  

   

Failure is good for you because:  

3.   It makes you stronger.  

Steven had a very hard time at school.  Every step along the way was a struggle. Until he discovered the truth that his dyslexia was not his fault. He simply needed to be taught in the way that he could learn.  As soon as he  believed in himself and his ability things began to go his way. His self-esteem grew. It was a slow process, but he got there. He was determined to succeed, he believed he could, and he did.  

4.   Failure opens your eyes to the real world.  

It seems to be the fashion in some of  our schools here in the UK, not to allow a child to ‘fail’ at the annual school sports day.  

There must be no winners or losers, just ‘participants’.  

How can that be right?  

As the child grows he will face many situations in which he has to compete. That’s real life. Surely it’s good to experience not coming first while still young and to learn that,  

Hey! Failure’s OK!   

Why do we want to protect our children from the real world?  

We do them no favours.  

They need to grow stronger and a little failure from time to time will help them, in my view.  

   

So… over to you:  

  • Has failure made you stronger in any way?
  • Has failure opened your eyes to anything in the real world?

Do add your comments… you know what to do… 

Header image by abbyreed, on Flickr

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6 Reasons Failure Is Good For You (Part One)

I’m failing spectacularly at the moment. 

But I’m learning loads. 

I’m writing a book.  

And I’ve learnt so much along the way. 

I’ve failed at each stage of working  on the book, but guess what? 

I’ve found 6 Positive Spins in the process!  

6 Reasons Why Failure Is Good For You. 

You won’t want to read them all at once so I’ll just tell you about two today. 

More next week. 

from Lazurite on Flickr

 

  Failure Is Good For You Because: 

1.   …failure takes you down new paths. 

I never intended to write my book. I wrote an article for the paper and in my research I came across an ancient (150 years old) school log book. I sent in my prized article but they didn’t print it… 

I moaned and groaned and spluttered into my cold coffee but there it was. 

Rejected.  

Failed.  

When I picked myself up and dusted myself down, something made me take another look at the old log book. And a germ of an idea for a whole new writing project was born… 

If my article had been accepted, I would never have come up with the new project.  

There’s always a new path to take. When you come across an obstacle, a road block, a disappointment, look for another path, another way, another solution. It’s there, right under your nose… 

2.   …failure stops you being arrogant. 

I was busy, busy, busy on my book. I’d spent many days deciphering the faded copperplate writing, typing it into a Word document. I was so tired. 

And then it happened. 

It was the end of a dark, winter’s day and I was just about to switch off my laptop when… I lost all the work of the day. 

ALL OF IT! 

Failed. 

Again. 

When I eventually calmed down, as you do, I was mortified. because: 

I knew it was all down to me. 

My mistake. My arrogance. My failure. 

Sleep came to my rescue. It healed my hurt pride. I woke next day, determined to catch up. 

And I re-set the auto save… 

  

Failure happens for a reason. 

And it’s usually your own fault. 

Failed the exam? 

Why? 

Not enough revision? 

Too many late nights? 

Thought you could ‘wing it’? 

No… you weren’t ready. You hadn’t done the work. You were arrogant. 

In my view, most of my failures have been down to me. My fault. No-one else to blame. 

How do you view your ‘failures’? 

Have you learnt from them? 

Has failure been good for you? 

  

 

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6 Simple Steps To Climb A Mountain

‘I don’t believe it!’   

‘Surely not!’   

‘Whatever next!’   

Sorry, you mountaineers out there and I know there are a few (!), but it’s true.   

There’s a tarmac path on part of the ancient miners’ route up Mt. Snowdon!    

Snowdon is the highest peak in Wales and very popular with climbers, old and young. The Snowdonia National Park Authority say that they want to give easier access for those with disabilities. Fair enough but apparently people are now taking their children up there in push chairs. What do you think about that?   

There’s always been a train for those unable to make the summit on foot but this tarmac path does seem a step too far, and the locals who know the mountain well are not at all happy about it.    

Photo courtesy of virtualjacki on Flickr.

 

 Over on Zen Habits Scott Dinsmore has written an enlightening post about climbing the mountains of life. It started me thinking (off I go again…) about how we can put a Positive Spin on facing even the smallest of problems. We just need to look at how a mountaineer does it.   

1.   Decide.   

  • The climber must make up his mind to face the challenge that the mountain will bring.
  • For some of you, deciding to face a nagging problem will be a challenge in itself. That’s fine. If you like, you can decide that you’re not ready today. No problem. You’ve decided… not to decide. But you’ll know when you’re ready to face it with a positive attitude.

2.   Get equipped.   

  • A climber has to assemble everything he  needs for the climb.

And… he must carry it with him.   

  • You must prepare. too. Get information, ask for advice, and take it. You can’t face this blind. You must be well  equipped and take it all with you.

3.   Make a plan.   

  • The climber takes a map and compass. He needs to find his way. There might be low cloud. Mist. He can’t risk losing the path or falling.
  • You need to make a plan. Make a step by step list of how to tackle the problem. Tiny steps count. They add up. Taking it steady is the answer. Keep to the path.

4.   Find some buddies.   

  • The climber will be unlikely to set off alone. He’ll have fellow climbers with him who may be more experienced, who he can turn to when there’s a set back. They can support one another.
  • You need buddies too. People who know how it feels to have this problem, who can stand in your shoes. They’ll give you support when you feel like giving up.

5.   Take a break.   

  • The climber will need to rest. There’s no point in getting exhausted. A few minutes rest can make all the difference between success or failure.
  • You will need a break too. Sometimes you won’t feel like carrying on with the task for today. Just wait, until you feel refreshed and ready to continue.

6.   ‘Easy’ is not best.   

  • A climber will say that the easy way up Snowdon is not the best. The whole point of a mountain climb is the challenge it brings and the satisfaction that comes from  meeting that challenge. The tarmac path presents little challenge.
  • Don’t imagine that facing and meeting your challenge will be easy. What would be the point? Follow the mountain climber’s example. Approach your climb with foresight, common sense and patience and…  properly equipped in every way.You’ll be glad you did.

What’s your personal mountain?   

Will you take the challenge?   

For more on this subject you might like to read this post.   

Header photo courtesy of abyreed on Flickr

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9 Things I Wish I Could Tell My 20 Something Self (And One More)

9 Things I wish I could tell my ‘Twenty Something’ self

about How To Be An OK Mum

and One More

Shhh! 

Don’t say a word, but…

my lovely son will be …

ummmm….

 errrr…..

It’s no good, I’ll just have to come right out and say it…

…. 40 years old on July 5th!

 

 How ancient does that make me feel!

I remember when I thought 40 was OLD… and now….

 Seriously though, if I could go back in time and talk to my young self, just before he was born, I’d say this-

1.   It’s OK to be an ‘OK mum’.

It’s all you’ll ever be.  A child doesn’t come with a handbook. You have to make it up as you go along. 

2.  Follow your instincts.

Listen to yourself. You’ll know if he’s uncomfortable, hungry or tired by the noise (and I’m not just talking about babies here!) You’ll learn to read the signs… eventually… like every other mum…

3.   Ask for help when you’re not sure what to do. 

There’s plenty out there.

And then… do what YOU think is best.

 4.   Try not to live your life through your child.

I hear so many mums say,’I want him to have what I never had.’

But perhaps that won’t be what HE wants. 

5.   Let him choose his own path.

Don’t get caught up in all the competition between other mums about how well their children are doing.

 He’ll do what he will do.

And that’s it.

6.   Decide on the boundaries and stick to them.

My children have told me that they wanted boundaries. 

Doesn’t mean they’ stuck to them though…

7.   Praise his achievements but don’t over do it.

They know ‘sincere’ when they hear it…

8.   Help him to learn  that failure is simply a step on the road to success.

Perhaps he wasn’t ready for that particular challenge,

perhaps it was unrealistic,

perhaps he simply wasn’t motivated.

Life’s like that. 

9.   Don’t overfill his time.

Does he really WANT to play cricket,

AND football

AND learn guitar

AND join Computer Club AND…

Or are you simply finding it hard to resist keeping up with the mums at the school gate?

 Reading this through, I realise that all of the above don’t just apply to being an OK mum, but to being an OK person…

  1. It’s OK to be… OK
  2. Follow your instincts
  3. Ask for help
  4. Be your true self
  5. Choose your own path
  6. Decide on your own life rules
  7. Acknowledge your achievements
  8. Accept that failure is good
  9. Don’t over fill your time

 Food for thought…

 What about you ?

What would you like to say to your ‘Twenty Something’ self?

Feel free to add your ‘One More’ below.

 

I was inspired to write this post after reading Marc’s post –

’18 Things I wish Someone Told me When I was eighteen.’

 Do pop over and read it. Marc and Angel’s site is very special.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Day 25- How not to feel a failure

This post is for Marea, who commented on this blog about how she felt she’d achieved nothing in her life. 

She says, ‘What have I achieved?’

and then goes on to tell us about her children and gorgeous grandchildren, how she stayed at home to look after her family…

Do you feel like this?

You do?  OK, Let’s look at this properly.

So… you think you’re a failure.  In whose eyes exactly?

Only yours!

It all depends on how you measure success. It also depends on what you were brought up to believe about success.

Does success mean

  • multiple holidays abroad? =MONEY
  • a flashy car? =MONEY
  • an elaborate home? =MONEY

Perhaps you were conditioned to believe that success is measured by accumulating ‘stuff’, as an outward sign to others that you’ve ‘made it’.

 In my view it means a lot more than that!

Ask your family and friends how they see you. Ask them what they think you’ve achieved in life so far. 

For example – a loyal friend, -a conscientious parent, -an unselfish sibling, – a ‘fun to be with’ grandparent, – a generous helper who gives her time freely.   I think you get my drift.

All these are far more of an achievement than merely driving a flash car. These achievements last, they affect the people around you, they influence all the people you know.

So many ‘career’ women out there long to have a child, to be at the school gate at 3.30, to have time for a family. All the accumulated wealth can never make up for that.

When I was teaching dyslexic students, I was waiting with one of them for his mum to pick him up. She drove a Porsche and he was proud to show me, in a good way.

Several years later I met her in Sainsbury’s and asked after Harry. I was very sad to hear that he had a serious kidney condition and was receiving home dialysis. 

As I drove home, I knew, without a doubt, that she would have traded her Porsche and all her wealth for Harry to be well.

 

TODAY’S TASK (for everyone, not just Marea!)

  • Write down what success means to you. It will be different for every one.
  • Make a list of all your achievements so far- yes, including passing Grade 1 in piano/violin/whatever!
  • Now add to the list all the achievements your friends and family would add. Ask them! You’ll be surprised.

so… are you still a failure?

I don’t think so!

Remember: No one is better than anyone else, just different!

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