Failure: Catalyst for Growth

“I’ve missed more than nine thousand shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

– Michael Jordan

“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”

– T.S. Elliot

Orison Swett Marden tells us about the latent potential in a torpedo in the ode to self-determination called He Can Who Thinks He Can:

“There is enough latent force in a Maximite torpedo shell to tear a warship to pieces. But the amount of force or explosive power in one of these terrific engines of destruction could never be ascertained by any ordinary concussion.

Children could play with it for years, pound it, roll it about, and do all sorts of things with it; the shell might be shot through the walls of an ordinary building, without arousing its terrible dynamic energy. It must be fired from a cannon, with terrific force, through a foot or so of steel plate armor, before it meets with resistance great enough to evoke its mighty explosive power.

Every man is a stranger to his greatest strength, his mightiest power, until the test of a great responsibility, a critical emergency, or a supreme crisis in his life, calls it out.”

Often times the very thing that catalyzes our growth is our failure. It’s our greatest challenges that catalyze our greatest growth. IF WE LET THEM.

William James tells us: “Most people never run far enough on their first wind to find out they’ve got a second. Give your dreams all you’ve got and you’ll be amazed at the energy that comes out of you.”

Let’s embrace our failures and our challenges. Let’s blow through our perceived upper limits. Let’s find the extra energy to move forward.

To be an Original by Adam Grant

“If originals aren’t reliable judges of the quality of their ideas, how do they maximize their odds of creating a masterpiece? They come up with a large number of ideas. Simonton finds that on average, creative geniuses aren’t qualitatively better in their fields than their peers. They simply produced a greater volume of work, which gave them higher variation and a higher chance of originality. ‘The odds of producing an influential or successful idea,’ Simonton notes, are ‘a positive function of the total number of ideas generated.’ …

From the book ‘Originals‘ by Adam Grant.

While I personally don’t agree with his definition of the procrastination problem, I find this argument on ‘quality versus quantity’ surprisingly pleasing.

‘In every field, even the most eminent creators typically produce a large quantity of work that’s technically sound but considered unremarkable by experts and audiences. When the London Philharmonic Orchestra chose the 50 greatest pieces of classical music, the list included six pieces by Mozart, five by Beethoven, and three by Bach. To generate a handful of masterworks, Mozart composed more than 600 pieces before his death at thirty-five, Beethoven produced 650 in his lifetime, and Bach wrote over a thousand. In a study of over 15,000 classical music compositions, the more pieces a composer produced in a given five-year window, the greater the spike in the odds of a hit.”

– Adam Grant from Originals

“If you want to be an original, ‘the most important possible thing you could do,’ says Ira Glass, the producer of This American Life and the podcast Serial, ‘is do a lot of work. Do a huge volume of work.’”

One more gem from Adam worth noting here: “It’s widely assumed that there’s a tradeoff between quantity and quality—if you want to do better work, you have to do less of it—but this turns out to be false. In fact, when it comes to idea generation, quantity is the most predictable path to quality. ‘Original thinkers,’ Stanford professor Robert Sutton notes, ‘will come up with many ideas that are strange mutations, dead ends, and utter failures. The cost is worthwhile because they also generate a larger pool of ideas—especially novel ideas.’”

Visual Notes: The Secret to True Happiness

Seneca and Will Durant writing about the secret to happiness.

Two interesting characters from different periods of human history and situations.

Seneca says,

True happiness is to rest satisfied with what we have.

While on the other hand,

Gladly I surrender myself to love and parentage!

says Will Durant.

I was inspired to make a visual note for my own reference. It was taken from the wonderful book ‘Light from Many Lamps‘. I’m sharing the same with you.

From Seneca:

From Will Durant:

May you all be bless with true joy and happiness!

Reflection: The Art of Talking to The Self

“Of course, I talk to myself.
Sometimes I need expert advice.”
— Unknown

I read the quote above somewhere and it stuck to me. Clearly one of the best people to take advice from is ourselves – which we often avoid.

Most of you by now must have known I extensively use ‘Freewriting‘ as a medium to ideate, think and even find it therapeutic. With the quote above, I was wondering whether I was simply documenting my inner monologue or even a dialogue on paper or a word document.

I read about an interesting idea proposed by Tal Ben-Shahar called ‘110-year old you’ exercise. Tal suggests imagining ourselves meet our future 110-year old self and talk to them. People reported remarkable improvements – like cancer patients radically changing their lives. Tal notes that it is not that people got more information, but they tapped into their inner wisdom during this imaginary conversation.

Nobody can deny that we constantly talk to ourselves. That’s how we think. We have our inner dialogues and conversations. If we are what we think, then thoughts are but words in our head.

Wisdom is already within us. We just have to listen. Here are few tips to help you have such a meaningful self-dialogue.

  • Prayer: I have come to believe that the ancient art of prayer is a form of an internal dialogue or self conversation. It is like talking to a close friend – loving and caring – He could be friend or a philosopher, a guide or a guru, or even a therapist. In ‘Prayer’ we call Him, God. His personality is so flexible, anyone can make him to be any one they want and as personal they want him to be. He is simply there – authentic, pure and all accepting. Psychologically I believe it a wonderful exercise.
  • Freewriting: The concept of writing as thinking on paper and a conversation with oneself is something that I could recommend to anyone on any day. It can be meditative and could even prove to be a brainstorming tool.
  • Questioning: I learnt this from Mark Forster. He even wrote an entire book using this technique. Mark recommends a Q&A conversation between our present self and our future self. I was using this technique very sparingly,

I have learnt few other techniques to facilitate self-conversation. Though personally I am yet to get a hang of it, I felt it was worth recommending.

  • Walking Meditation: It has become legendary of Steve Jobs taking his long walking strolls across his neighbourhood. Steve later mentions, in one of his later interviews, that his long walks in the evening helped in consolidate and clarify a lot of concepts and ideas.
  • Think Room: I read about this CEO of a large corporation who shuts himself from everything, every week for an hour – simply to spend time thinking. Bill Gates’ famous ‘Think Week’ is a testimonial to find your own sanctuary of thinking. Though I am yet to find such a luxurious position, but I hope to experiment it soon. 

I always believed that guru is not someone who throws us advices and sagely aphorisms. But guru is someone who helps you find it (the wisdom) within you.

I hope you’ll find your wisdom within you!

Request: If you find any of those ideas useful and took time to experiment with it (which I really hope you do), I kindly request you to share it with us, by leaving a comment below.

Great Posts from Mark Forster-Round 1

I like his genius, his simplicity and direct message. I’ve made an effort to read and cull-out as much of lessons from Mark Forster post – hopefully to apply in my life.

Here is my first round of posts by Mark Forster that I think are great.