How do you achieve success? You plan to fail! When I began my coaching career my fall back plan (the plan that just had to work) if I did not succeed in becoming a coach (or anything else) was to write a three volume tome- something the size of the bible…but considerably longer.
It was to be a chronicle of all my sorrows in the event that they did not turn to joys. (I used to sing that spiritual “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen” to keep my spirits up!) And as I went from disappointment to despair I filled the imaginary book with imaginary heart wrenching prose.
How did I get to such a point you ask? Well I had lofty ambitions. I had gone from rich to poor 10 years ago… in the most efficient way possible-divorce! I always thought the story was supposed to go the other way round but I didn’t fret much in the beginning.
I had come of age in the hippie days when everyone over thirty was considered well… an idiot. To us all knowing flower children all adults were absurd (most particularly our parents). What did they know? Running around with brief cases…always in a bad mood. The neighborhood I lived in was affluent (that’s the word we used). My friend’s house had Louise Nevelson reliefs and Matisse prints on the wall. So I assumed that if all of our ridiculous parents could get rich it must be a cinch!
I had only to pick from an array of opportunities and I too would live well in no time. Making money…yes it was going to be kind of a waste of time. I was made for painting, poetry, and spiritual quests. But now I was a single mom and I’d have to work briefly for food clothing and shelter amass some wealth and resume my normal life.
Need I say that making money required a bit more effort than I expected? In fact, I started to wonder if all those adults I grew up with were actually stupid. It seemed making money would take some focus…
When I got my first job (teaching children to make mouse pens and button and bead sculptures) I forgot to ask about the pay until after I accepted it. It turned out that my art teach income did not meet my expenses. So I started a cottage industry with my children producing flower pens (we did it all…with pens!) but when we actually got a big order my kids got bored and refused to do any more “child labor”.
Then I went on to being an executive coach minus executives.
And finally I decided that it would be best if I accepted reality (that I wasn’t made for this world) and plan to simply write about what went wrong.
And so I pursued my coaching business, taking outrageous risks and going from rich to poor at an even more alarming rate, all the while narrating in my head my great literary chronicle of failures.
Yes, it would be magnificent. Sold in a big boxed set and bound in bright red fabric, it’d be in three volumes with their titles written in big letters in shiny gold leaf. It would grab attention. You would walk into Barnes and Noble looking for a business book to make your million (or mortgage payment) and the words FAILURE REJECTION BETRAYAL would jump out at you. You’d say “Wow! that sounds like my life!” and check that no attractive stranger was looking your way. Then you’d pick up the set and pull a massive volume from the box. Each page of the trilogy would read like a suspense thriller with the heroine hanging by her finger tips. You would say “Well if this lady could live through that (and admit it!) maybe I might be able to… (you fill in the blank with your wildest dream) “ and filled with hope and curiosity you’d be inspired to buy my masterwork. I’d then became a JK Rowling (minus disgusting jelly beans and teenage fans) ….and a model for the miserable.
That was my plan.. and it seemed I had enough material and it was time to enact the plan when… just when I was ready to learn to type I achieved some success! Before I could pen the first word things started to go aright!
The morale of the story: plan for the worst! When you have nothing to lose, you’ll sail into the realm of your dreams full speed ahead. And maybe you’ll find your absurd notions might be right… and that following them you end up just where you need to be!