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How Not To Fail
by Beverly Murrelle
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As the years roll, my eyes become more focused. My thoughts grow gentler, my mind keener, and my heart fresher with increased capabilities to love unconditionally--the way I'd like to be loved.

That's not all bad, you know, coming from someone who once believed herself to be no less than a failure; someone who could never hold her head at normal range, much less up. When placed in a room with two or more people, my self-esteem lowered considerably. Immediately I would develop talker's block, never knowing what to say next. Can you imagine shifting from one life position to the next; juggling to people-please? The hard work required to be someone you are not?

In high school I remember running for student council. It was fun hearing buddies say they were going to vote for me, until that dreadful day. One morning I was called into the principal's business office and told that my name would be removed from the list of candidates. My grades were not up to par. Maybe next year, I heard. How excruciating! Needless to say, humiliation evolved as my constant companion.

It is perfectly clear to me that everyone won't and can't make it to the top. Self-help books are increasingly popular, but quite frankly I wish someone would offer tips on what to do --not how to act. Sometimes we want to know why we are in the mess that we are in. Unfortunately self-helpers pound into our heads that why is not important.

The world invariably teaches us its perspective. Step on the one in front. Shift the next one to the side and keep on smiling while stomping on faces and guts to get to the top. No wonder there is noted success in the world of pharmaceudical sales. Anti-depressants are increasingly popular; sleeping pills have been boosted. In other words, upon becoming successful as the term is viewed by many Americans, we need to contact our doctor immediately so we can deal with things while medicated. We've learned well how to deceive our own selves. But we oft times do not know why our conscience spells g-u-i-l-t.

The American mind is continually saturated with thoughts of meeting this goal. Or getting that job completed by the deadline (which was yesterday). If we do not meet goals and/or deadlines, are we to limp through our lives forever? Are we total failures? Basically the world tells us so. Thankfully, today I'm more adept at putting the world in its place and me in mine. There is indeed another perspective on what failure is and what failure is not.

I'm reminded of an old Norwegian tale about a fisherman who, with his sons, went out on a fishing trip. While on the bay they were catching fish and throwing them into the boat, one by one. During this episode, a horrific thunderstorm brewed overhead. Fog and drenching rains blotted visibility. The shoreline was completely out of sight, though brilliant lightning flashes were distributed from enormous thunderheads.

Meanwhile the man's wife was waiting in the cold air on the property site. She was terribly exhausted after watching their house go up in flames--flames that erupted while she was in the kitchen cooking. Before going out, the fire had destroyed all earthly possessions. Finally, the father and sons rowed their boat ashore. The man's wife scurried with panic to tell him of the tragedy. Her husband seemed unmoved by her words.

"My God, did you not hear what I just told you? We have lost all of our possessions -- our home and everything in it. Our house is gone. Do you understand me?"

"Yes," he replied. "I hear you. But please hear me. Just a few hours ago we were lost at sea. Lightening was striking close. The wind was blowing at what seemed to be hurricane force. We were paralyzed with fear in our little row boat, knowing that we'd be struck by lightning or the boat would capsize thrusting us out to sea in all directions. Not only were we blinded unable to see the shoreline, we were experiencing death's door opening to us. Eventually saw a dim light, so we turned our boat to that light. Dear, the same blaze which destroyed our home was the very light that saved our lives."

What happens to be failure from one view can be unlimited success from another's scrutiny. It is all in our perspective.

In John Wooden's biography, he states, Things turn out best for those who make the best of the way things turned out.

Look at Helen Keller. She may have felt like a failure at times when she was working with Anne Sullivan, trying diligently to learn. The frustration grew in both of them. But it later eased with great rewards, not to mention a better way of life. As a result, Helen Keller's closed eyes opened millions of others' eyes.

We are all failures in some respect. But we are all successful, too. We learn that when we help do for others what they cannot do for themselves. Authentic success is inner peace. All we need do is learn what to do to achieve it--a simple thing, really.

For example--one evening the past president of an international civic club came out of his hotel meeting. He noticed a little boy sitting on the front steps in ragged clothes. He was crying. The executive asked the young fellow why he was crying.

"Because my dad sent me to the store to buy some milk and bread. I've lost the money he gave me. My dad is at home drunk. He'll beat me when I get home." The man reached into his pocket and handed some coins to the beraggled young boy, who said, "Gee, mister, I sure do wish you were my dad." The civic leader walked four more city blocks praying that he would run into someone else to help.

There are some problems we should never avoid--those that call for us to help others when our help is needed--the most successful act we can perform while on this planet. As for problems? We can face the ones we must carry, choose the ones we should carry, and never let ourselves be chased by the ones we make for ourselves. If we can do these things, we all become successful.

It takes work and lots of it to achieve inner peace. Upon internalizing this truth, most of the time I sleep through the night without outside forces making a web in my conscience. Not always because it isn't always that I do my best. I fall short many times. I've had past failures and I will experience future ones. But, at least I own the comfort of knowing I can transform my shortcomings into successes for other folks.

Inner peace is a precious gift. Past failures cannot take the precious grant away unless I get in there trying to control everything, doing that which would create inner havoc--definitely an existence I don't need.

Thankfully, God has given me the clarity to leave others alone and work on myself. In the long run, I've become quite fond of me, which is success in a nutshell. No question, I need to love me so I can pass it on to the next guy--the one in need.

Each day I have the opportunity to create success. Practice works. If I failed yesterday, then today I can pick myself up, brush myself off, and go from failure to success in one day. What a peaceful thought. All I need do is take advantage of the thought and turn it into a feeling.

Yes--finally, I caught on. Success is a daily thing. Success or failure? The decision is mine.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Caroline Alderson 21 Oct 2003
I enjoyed your article. I am reminded of the scripture in psalms that says, "Don't walk in the council of the ungodly." In God and in staying inside His precious Word, we can never fail, because He is our refuge, helper, and strength. Peace be to you in all you do. :) ldylanette@yahoo.com
Lilly A 17 Oct 2003
That is an outstanding article! lattelal@yahoo.com
Donna Haug 13 Oct 2003
Beverley, What a great article. I loved your Norweigen story. It's a great lesson. And I re-read your 'burden carrying' quotes a few times. Good stuff. You have a way with words that just flow! God bless you!! Donna


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