Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Failure to Launch

I asked for something I really feel like I have earned at work last week and I didn't get it.

At first I was really, really angry. I did all my homework before I made the request. I spoke to experts, I rehearsed my points, I prepared spiritually. I really felt like I did everything within my power to go into my meeting prepared. And it didn't work.

I don't want to give the impression that I always get what I want, because I do not. But in my adult life it has often been the case that if I try really hard, things have a way of working out. But the recent past is littered with incredibly disappointing situations that I was convinced were going to end a different way.

So I've been thinking this week about what really constitutes failure. Is the mission a bust if a person over which you have no control chooses not to grant your request? Is the lesson I needed to learn actually in the asking regardless of the outcome? Isn't learning when and how to stand up for myself a valuable skill to pick up sort of no matter what?

I'm pretty sure the answer is that almost any experience is only a failure if you don't learn anything from it. If all it does is make you mad, bitter and cynical then yes-utter failure. But if you can get a little bit of space from it and take some lessons from it, then I think maybe life could seem a whole lot less frustrating.

The next problem of course being that lessons learned often mean that you have to change-your attitude or your circumstances or your behaviour-and that can be a whole difficult process of it's own.

The lesson I think I've decided to take from this is one that has been incubating for years but I think it's really time to apply it. If I really do believe that God has a plan for me, I'm going to have to put just a bit more trust in that plan than what my somewhat control freak nature typically enjoys. This isn't a license to be lazy or to quit trying things, it's just an understanding and an acceptance that I am not as in charge as I think I am. And that frankly, if there is an all powerful, all knowing Being who would prefer to pull the strings a bit, then maybe I should let myself relax a bit.

And because I feel like there ought to be some sort of behavioral manifestation of this lesson, I've started moderating my soda intake. I realize there seems to be zero connection between the two but I wanted to do something that would remind me OFTEN to loosen my grip.

Trust me, I've had less Diet Coke for two days and I think it's already working.


chloe elizabeth said...

You really are so inspirational. Oh, we type A's of the world. And, as much as we try and learn the lesson, it's one that seems to need repeating. Sometimes I feel like I'm living Groundhog's Day.

Good luck with the loosening. I'm in the same boat. Although, I won't say that my prayers ever loosen up. I mean, I'm trying to let him pull the strings, but I feel like it's okay to say, "You know, I really would like to move here or there." Of course, He's in charge and He knows what's best. But sometimes, I think He knows us well enough to let us control things, figure things out on our own, the whole "both choices are fine" idea. Hmmm, lots to think about...as always, very thought provoking post.

erinannie said...

Thanks for sharing. Your thoughts really made an impact on me today.

Cristin Lassen said...

I'm not a Garth Brooks fan by any means, but when I was in college, my roommates and I found a lot of comfort in the song, "Unanswered Prayers." You can apply it to anything you don't get that you want. I know, super cheesy, but it made me feel better.

tim & brandi said...

There's a great talk by the late Hugh B. Brown that I think really focuses on the doctrine behind your topic. The talk was given at a BYU graduation and is called "God is the Gardener."

You can read a watered down version here: http://www.living-prophet.info/LDS/073_Hugh_B_Brown.html

Or download and listen to the full 30 minute talk here: http://speeches.byu.edu/download.php/Brown68.mp3

(It's worth the listen.)

CoCo said...

Of course, being the recent convert that I am, will remind you of Coach Taylor's final speech to the Panthers. The paraphrased point is that you will not always win and what makes you the person you are is the way you deal with the situation when you are not winning. Which reminds me of a point that President Bowen (Cambridge, MA Stake President) made about intelligence - the true measure of intelligence is not what you know but what you do when you don't know what to do.

Santa's Little Helper said...

I totally agree with this post and in fact take much comfort in the fact that I'm not in charge. I'm far from all knowing and it's a relief to realize that I'm not limited to my own scope of knowledge and foresight. There's someone out there looking out for me. I love knowing that an all wise and all loving Father in Heaven guides my path and opens the doors that I cannot open to allow me to accomplish my life's mission. All other doors that slam in my face are simply character building experiences that prepare me for who I need to be. I learn a lot from so called "failure", which makes it a victory in my book!

Jayne said...

Also remember this - you did not fail in this situation. You prepared, you were right, and your presentation was fair. Someone else made a choice - a bad choice which showed a real lack of integrity - and although you have suffered for that, it was not your failure.

Kersten said...

I'd be re-examining my spirituality, too, with less diet coke for two days! :)

And for someone who professes to love learning new things, I sure dislike having them "taught" to me, so your entry was a nice reminder to be pliable.