Tuesday, March 19, 2013

When The Grass is Greener, The Crap Was the Fertilizer

Don't you just hate it when you look at someone who seems to have everything under control, everything going for them, and everything just right... and it seems as simple as breathing for them to be that put together? You look over their fence, and the proverbial grass is that beautiful shade of lush emerald green. It looks thick, healthy and welcoming.

You look at yours and it is a crunchy brown patch of straw. You get that little pang of jealousy when you look into someone's yard and their grass is greener than yours. You wonder why your yard - your life can't look like theirs.

No... we are not talking about  actual grass. We are talking about life.

Face it... we all peek over fences and compare, even though we know we shouldn't. And we often want what we see on the other side - the "perfection" we see on the surface.

There are so many things that have made the grass of your life weary, dry and dead.  Perhaps you have had struggles and strive that kept you from tending to your own yard.  You work hard and just don't "feel" like you are getting ahead. You are tired.  Disappointments, betrayals, failures, struggles leave you in a drought of faith.  You feel so far gone, that you just don't know how you could have the vibrant, renewed, lush grass that you see over other peoples fences. The closest to green you may feel is the envy that is creeping into your heart.

You think that there is no way that the grass on the other side of the fence could have possibly endured the same crap in life that yours has.  If it had, it would be just as brown and dry as yours.

Step back from your pity party (yes... harsh... I know, but oh how we love to host those!). Their grass is greener for one of two reasons.

The first reason: It is fake grass.

Fake grass has no roots and does not grow.  The last thing you want is a life that does not grow, so stop comparing yourself to one that is stagnate and phony.  Build the fence higher and forget that it is there.

The second reason:  The person on the other side of the fence has used the crap of life as fertilizer.

The crap of life can pile up, stink and destroy your patch of green. If your grass is dry and dead - that might be what you have been doing. But, you can choose to steward it in a way that it enriches, teaches and strengthens you.  You can use it to green your own grass - like the grass over the fence.

How do you spread the crap so it brings growth and not destruction? How do you make it welcoming? How do you steward the challenges of life to spring forth growth and vibrancy? 

Start by doing these things:
  • Refuse to let it hold you hostage.
  • Recognize and take accountability for any part you played in bringing it into your life.
  • Learn how to not repeat the same mistakes.
  • Don't let the disappointment that happens in certain moments of life dictate your expectations of every moment of life. 
  • Look at your own grass and choose to see the green blades among the brown.  You are more blessed than you realize. 
  • Water it in faith of what can and will be, if you choose to let it grow. 
It is in human nature to compare our lives to others.  You know who you are, where you fit, how to be, and how to exist in the world through what is seen and compared to around you. But when you do compare, realize that when you peek over fences and see a beautiful lawn - it may be that your neighbor has had just as much crap in life as you have.  They have just done a better job of using it as fertilizer. 

Do you get caught is a cycle of comparing your life to others?
Have you ever been envious of someone else's yard and realized that they were going through struggles just like you?
Have you ever been jealous of what was over another person's fence and realized that the grass was fake? 

Friday, March 8, 2013

The Fine Art of Stewarding Failure

I got an F on a test.
I forgot the words to a speech in front of a crowd.
I missed a deadline.
I wasn't there for a friend.
I had a relationship go sour.
I didn't reach my fitness goal.
I opened my mouth at the wrong time and said the wrong thing.
I didn't get the job.

The above list... I've fallen short in every one of those things.  Some of them, multiple times.That makes that old saying "Failure is NOT and option!" feel like an awful lot of pressure.

The truth is that failure is inevitable.  It happens to all of us.  We fail at relationships, business ventures, goals... failure is a part of life.  It is not a matter of if you ever fail, but a matter of when you will fail at something.  It is a reality of existing.

If you have failed is not nearly as important as how you steward the failure. 

When failure comes, you have an equal responsibility to manage and use that experience as you would have if you had been successful in your actions.   It's easier to keep pride in check and use a victory as a launching point for good than it is to swallow your pride and use a failure as a ladder to redemption. Even though it is hard, it is your responsibility as a steward of your life.

There is a fine art to being a good steward of failure. I is an ART of Accountability, Revamping, and Taking a step.

Accountability- Take a good hard look at yourself and the situation.  A gut reaction (yes... I know this from personal experience) is to list all of the reasons outside of yourself for the failing.  If this person had done this...  I would have done that but... It wasn't my fault because...

Unclench your pointing hand and use your fingers to count the areas where your accountability lies. MOST of the time there is something you could have done differently in the situation.  You could have prepared, investigated, reacted, worked, communicated, or considered the situation differently - either during the event that failed, or after.  It may or may not have changed the outcome. But when you assess what you own it will also show you what you did right. Taking accountability for what you own in the situation both the good and the bad, gives you your power back over failure.

Revamping-  If your endeavor failed you already know that something needs to be revamped.  The way to revamp isn't always easy to apply because those things may have been caused by actions that are steeped in our habits. Habits are hard to break.  If you saw that communication was an issue in the challenge, but you naturally have a flare for snark and sarcasm, it might not be staring you in the face that your style of communication wasn't right for the situation - because it is your habit.  If it was a financial issue that was the challenge, you may need to change your attitudes about finances - rooted in your habits.

Be willing to move outside of your box (but not outside your ethics or character) to revamp.  Rethink the event from a different perspective and from a different routine. If it involved another person, put yourself in the other party's shoes with their ears and expectations and think of what you would have expected if you were them.  If it is a personal failure, think of the successful you as the other party. Instead of focussing on the limitations of the boundaries, look at all of the possibilities inside of them, and be willing to consider if the boundaries can be rearranged.  Change up how you rerun the failure in your head.  It's sort of like proofreading backwards - you catch, revamp and apply solutions more easily when you don't automatically process what comes next in the  text of the situation.

Take A Step- This is often the scariest part. It's tough to go back into the ring when you were knocked down.  You don't want a repeat.  That punch to the gut hurt and you don't want  your pride hurt. You don't want to feel embarrassed. You think it's easier to keep it out of sight and out of mind.

But, if you don't step back into it, you don't move forward. You don't grow. You don't know what could be and what you are capable of.   The lessons learned from the failure stay as knowledge in your head, but don't become the wisdom of the experienced until you take a step and apply them. Use the lessons as safety padding and take the step. The best that can happen is that you will be successful.  The worst is that you will not succeed again - but you have the the protective gear the second time around.

Falling short is never a fun thing.  But, it is part of life and often can be a good thing - when it is stewarded well.  Stewarding it is a fine art of Accountability, Revamping, and Taking a Step. Failure may not be an option you choose. But it is a reality you face, and you have an equal responsibility to be a good steward of the failures as you do of the successes.

Do you play the blame game when you fail?
Is there a failure that you are keeping out of sight and out of mind?