"Become aware what is in you. Announce it, pronounce it, produce it and give birth to it." - Meister Eckhart

07 April 2015

Day 6 of the A to Z Blogging Challenge

F is for Failure


"10,000 failures are worth more than one success." Thomas Edison

I want to share a story with you. But only read it if you know what it’s like to feel a failure. If you know that feeling, then you’ll understand where I’m coming from.

Back in 2007, my world collapsed. My 25-year marriage had come to a devastating end. Suddenly, I was alone. My wife was gone; my kids; my in-laws; and many of our friends. I had to move away from the community I had come to love and call home.

Don’t feel sorry for me. It was my call. I was desperate and I made what I thought was the right decision and I didn’t make it lightly.

I moved into an empty flat, which a friend had recently sold. I had a month to get my life together before the new tenants moved in.

To make matters worse, I had given up my full-time teaching job two years earlier to develop my dream of being a storyteller and coach. In addition to no longer having a family, I had no clients and few prospects. My confidence, my self-esteem, and my bank account were at an all-time low.

 If you want to read the rest of the story click here.

If you don't have time let me summarise -- I had fallen into the furnace of failure and was getting badly burned. But I won't bore you with the details. We've all been there right?

But in the eight years since then, I've learned a lot of lessons -- most importantly, how an "old story" can oppress you, keep you locked in guilt and shame. My "new story" had to begin with forgiveness. It wasn't easy -- old stories are never easy to re-write. It was a terribly painful and lonely journey.

Yet these journeys are necessary. There are no shortcuts. You have to breakdown before you can breakthrough. In the end, it's what you do with failure that counts.

The American baseball legend Babe Ruth enjoyed huge success in his career as a home run king, batting balls out of the park and out of reach earning him and his team victory after victory. Yet what few know is that Ruth also held the record for the most strike outs -- swinging and missing the ball! Ruth also experienced failure after failure--and believe me, he heard his share of boos and catcalls--but he never succumbed to the story of failure. He simply shifted his perception of what it was. As he used to say, "Never let the fear of striking out keep you from coming up to bat."

If you want to succeed in this world, you have to be prepared to re-write your story. Failure can be a transformational experience. It's all a matter of how you choose to see the world around you and within you. Faced with yet another failure in trying to invent the light bulb, inventor Thomas Edison remarked, “I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.” Don't let failure write your story; embrace your failures and start telling the story you want to live.

“What difference would it make to your business and your life, if you were living and telling the story that really mattered to you?”


Testimonials

"We have received only very positive reports of your workshop, and must thank you for being so flexible and responsive both before and in the course of implementing the workshop. It has been lovely to work with you. . . . We are hopeful this project will give rise to future storytelling endeavours, and would be very happy to work with you again if the opportunity arises!" Muireann Crowley, At Home in Scotland, University of Edinburgh, May 2014 ("Storytelling, Research and Public Engagement" workshop)

Michael Williams is a a storyteller of compelling skill. He is also a fine human being who engages in all situations and draws people into the warmth of communication and shared experience." Donald Smith, Director, Scottish Storytelling Centre, Edinburgh Scotland

"Michael's understanding of storytelling within a leadership and business context has helped us provide a great service in helping leaders determine their personal and organisational destiny and legacy. Working with Michael is inspiring and fun; and pulls you to be fully engaged from start to finish." Norton Bertram-Smith, Managing Director and Leadership Consultant for On Purpose.

Kamink: the little boy who grew into a giant of a man

Blues and Roots Radio

Blues and Roots Radio
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Creative Scotland

Creative Scotland
I'm grateful to Creative Scotland for its support.