Hitting bottom

So Dalio’s book caused me more introspection. This, coupled with my seclusion in Alaska, has brought some things to the forefront.

“Embracing your failures – and confronting the pain they cause you and others – is the first step toward genuine improvement; it is why confession precedes forgiveness in many societies. Psychologists call this ‘hitting bottom.’ If you keep doing this you will convert the pain of facing your mistakes and weaknesses into pleasure and ‘get to the other side’…”

If you were to rate days on a scale of 1-5 with 1 being the worst and 5 being the best, in my 12,000 or so days I’ve had twenty (estimate) days I would rate as a 1. That’s less than one bad day a year. But the fact is, those days tend to stand out more than any others. Those days rank higher in my internal auditing systems than any of the other days.

Richard Michael Hui wrote this enlightening piece on mistakes, and of those twenty or so days, I’d wager that 75% were from mistakes I had made. Maybe not specifically in that moment, but at least in the moments leading up to them. And if you’re able to learn from those mistakes – to accept and forgive yourself – you’re vastly ahead of the curve.

Pursuit

It’s easy to be distracted. To fall off the bandwagon. Because pursuit is hard work.

It’s hard to maintain laser focus. To devote precious time to a specific activity.

We can’t be sure it’ll pan out. Sometimes we jump ship before reaching the goal, just because it’s difficult.

But imagine what finishing would look like. That’s what successful people do. They see it through to fruition.

Yes, sometimes they too will fail. Hard. Public, epic fails that make everyone cringe.

But not completing the pursuit is the only sure way to not succeed. Yes, you may not fail. You just won’t be

In fact, the true successes are those who have doggedly pursued their interest in spite of failure.

Credit where credit is due

We beat ourselves up when we do something stupid. Make a mistake, or fail.

We forget that we are miraculous creatures. Able to think, design, build and imagine.

In the animal kingdom, failure means death. Starvation, or becoming a predator’s meal. Unable to find food. Not being able to mate.

Humanity has an amazing propensity for failure, for everything we think of can have a corollary error. Miss your goal? Failure. Not a passing grade? Screw up. Under target for sales? Blew it.

But we get to come back at it. We get to take those failures, and incorporate them into the knowledge of who we are and what we do. Failure is not death, not for us.

Failure is just one step on the path to success.

Fail better

Hmm… I lost a month. I was cruising along again, then stepped away from the computer. Rip Van Winkled it.

I’m back. I guess I could consider not writing to be a fail. No one is emailing me asking for more posts, so that’s fine though. It’s a personal journey for me. And really, it is all about the journey.

I started keeping a blog for two reasons. One, I like writing. I wanted to get what I had to say out there. It may not be viewed by very many people, and that’s also fine. But it’s me being accountable to myself.

And two, I had a lot to learn to be accountable for. The year of 2016, when I believe I really started blogging, was a struggle for me. I have pulled out of that turmoil, which may be a reason why I’ve been less structured when it comes to posting.

But I still journal most mornings, and these posts are additional. I like the tactile sensation of writing in a book, with pen, in cursive. Someone tried to read a couple lines and called it my ‘old-man writing.” That’s how I feel sometimes – like an old man.

Other times I forget that I’m in my thirties altogether, and behave much younger. Those times are interesting, and I realize that my body bounces back much slower than it used to.

Either way, I’m here posting now. “Ever tried, ever failed” as Beckett says. “No matter. Try again, fail again, fail better.”

 

It’s all really a question

If I was to create my perfect society, it would be an imperfect society. Perfection is an ideal, not an actual. We come to these matters uniquely, and no two created societies would be identical. Millions upon millions of different ideas, goals, aspirations, longings, and we expect that a society that comprises all of these disparate personalities to function ideally – obviously we will fail.

But we can learn to fail better, as Pema Chödrön says. Learn from mistakes, lean in to the uncomfortable issues.

We criticize our elected officials for their inability to pass substantive legislation. Yet, as our population grows and the added opinions that growth equals means that keeping a population satisfied with job performance is impossible. Someone is going to be unhappy.

Now, at the point that government became a business we began losing ground as a Country. Members of Congress who find their retirement solution among the House or the Senate. Rich, old, white men who are out of touch with the heartbeat of America may not be the best ones to be leading the United States into the 21st Century. There are of course exceptions, and there are women, and racially diverse members of both parties in some form of leadership – though it’s not the norm.

In the House, there are 89 women and 348 men serving. Of the 437 members of the House of Representatives, 338 are white, roughly 3 out of 4. The other hundred or so are composed of Black, Hispanic, Asian American and Native American/Native Alaskan.

The Senate, and its one hundred members, is 22% female, just slightly better than the House’s 21.9% female. Women at 22, men at 78. Racially, the Senate is 92% white. That means there are 8 who identify as racially diverse in the Senate.

I don’t want to say that the majority of Americans would rather vote a white man into Congress than a woman or someone of color. But, and this seems like a pretty big but, somehow we’re allowing the nation’s Capital to be whitewashed.

Then there are all these stories saying that this is the most racially diverse Congress we’ve had: The Hill, Pew Research Center & Politifact. So, good on us.

Is it enough? That’s one of the millions of questions that makes America what it is. We are a Country of questions:

What are the unalienable rights?
What makes me an American?
What is the American dream?
Does that dream still exist?
Who really looks like me? Is it that we’re the same color on the outside? That we believe in the same God, deity, or scientific reason? Is it that we live in the same zip code, work in the same building, or have the same job title?
Who do want to lead us?

Though the answers to these questions are few and far between, that we get to ask them is, in my opinion, what makes us American.