failure

Success…What is it Anyway?

What is failure anyway? Not succeeding at something we try? What is success? Financial independence, career stability, a house, a family, and maybe if we are lucky, doing what we love?

For years now, I have defined success with financial freedom. I have compared myself to friends with high paying jobs who have chosen the conventional life. The dangerous part about comparing with others who have a completely different life, different dreams, and different goals, is we never allow ourselves to see OUR success.

I grew up in a society that puts value on money as a measurement of success. I am familiar with the contradiction that money isn’t everything. However, those have been empty words as society’s actions speak louder. We are shown through propaganda and media how to make money fast, how to be financially successful, how to avoid debt, and ultimately, told this all will bring happiness. We all know this isn’t true, yet we fall into the trap just the same. But, where is the passion, the love, the fulfillment? Where is that kind of success? How can we change those empty words of “money isn’t everything” into a practice of caring, sharing, and giving?

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I was in my kitchen cutting up sweet potatoes as I was dancing and singing to India Arie in my apartment alone. The sun was setting and I had decided to force myself to take a break from work to enjoy myself. The problem was I didn’t want to stop working because of how much I love what I am doing. I get to sit in my bed with the sliding glass door open and the sun shining through. I get to hear the ocean waves and the life below my apartment. I get to write, organize, and plan my workshops and speeches. I love it so much that most nights I can’t sleep because of the excitement. But still, I wake up with such adrenaline that I am ready to take on the world. So, really, stopping to eat is the only thing I may enjoy more than working:)

As I was reflecting on my life and where I am, I started thinking about a vision I wrote last year. I wrote I would live in a two bedroom apartment with my partner, I could walk to a market to buy fresh fruits and vegetables, I would around the corner to a coffeeshop (where I am writing now), I would be inspiring, motivating, and working with women, I would be speaking and writing, I would be able to see mountains from where I live, and I would be within driving distance of a body of water. Guess, what… that is 100% true. Every single part of it. The only part missing is the salary. Sadly, I made maybe 1/10th of what I wrote. (Lucky for me, I chose a country with a great exchange rate to the dollar.)

However, I have been so focused on monetary success that I had blinded myself from seeing my REAL success. The incredible thing is I have been denying myself any sort of happiness or celebration over the past few years because of my focus on what I didn’t have. I have beaten myself up over how little I have in my bank account, how I have used all my savings in order to follow a dream, and how I haven’t even begun started paying my student loans off as my friends are buying houses and getting married. But, for the first time in years, I can see how successful I am.

After having this revelation, I have decided to let go of my previous definition of success to adopt my new one. Success is loving what I am doing, being able to cook my meals and watch the sunset, making time for myself every single day to do something for me, and making time for the people I love. Success is making goals and accomplishing them and inspiring others to do the same. It is intending to do something and making sure it happens…and also knowing when to let go. Success is being within integrity of myself and my life. Success, to me, is the life that I am living. And, finally, I am ready to let myself be free and to revel in my new found definition.

Me in the sunset

Sitting on the beach in Huanchaco feeling grateful.

 

Myth: Failure Sucks.

candle

 

When we start out on projects or attempt something we have never tried before, we always believe the myth of failure. We fall into the trap that failure will kill us, we won’t go on, and it will be the end of our dream. Throughout life we hold back on taking chances because the chance of failure is a hit to our ego. What will people think if we fail?

 

But, in reality, the most important question is what will we think of ourselves when we fail? How will we choose to live with it?

 

I will share something with you, this is a secret, so let us keep it between us. Because, just like I said before, what would happen if people found out I failed at something 😉

 

I set up a webinar series to teach self-love to women and men. To give them the tools to start or continue their journey of learning how to love themselves. Last week, I had my first webinar series and I was so nervous. I was almost shaking and my nerves were at an all time high.I had never been this nervous for a workshop. I guess maybe because I had never done anything on the internet before and I was putting myself out into the world to be judged and criticized.

 

As the night came, I had only two people join the webinar, one of which being my mom. But, the show went on. About 37 minutes into my presentation, the internet cut out and wouldn’t reconnect. I was devastated and humiliated. Thank god, the audience was so small. After allowing myself to feel disappointed for a few days, I was back at it again planning and preparing.

 

Last night, I decided to try again. I was ready. I was prepared. I wasn’t nervous. I felt like I could take on the world. I got on 30 minutes early to set up and practiced over and over again. It was one minute before the webinar began and I closed my eyes and took a deep breathe reciting everything I was about to say. As the clock struck Eight,  I opened my eyes…

 

Number of viewers: 1, my mom. Thank god for my #1 cheerleader. I pictured everyone who had signed up speeding down the neighborhood street, throwing up the door, fumbling with their keys, throwing down their bags, and impatiently waiting for the modem to kick on and their slow computers to start as they were panicking they were late to begin their journey of self-love. But, I only felt patience and understanding as I waited for other attendees to join the webinar.

 

Thirty minutes later, still, no one. It was a party…my mom and I. Was I disappointed? Of course, a little bit. Was I sad? You bet ya, a tad. Was I ready to throw myself a pity party? HECK NO.

 

What I realized in that moment was, I had a few choices. I could feel sorry for myself, feel bad for all the effort I put into this, and take no one showing up personally OR I could use this as a chance to perfect my message. I could use this as an opportunity to grow, to learn, to evolve. What did I learn? I need to learn marketing. I need to better appeal to my audience. I need to find a way that will work. Because it will. It just isn’t supposed to right now.

 

Because here is the thing about “failure”: We can let ourselves believe it is a failure. We can let ourselves get slowed down by the challenge and obstacle or, we can let it catapult is forward. We can let it empower us and excite us more.

 

As I sat there talking to my mom for almost an hour, she was her wonderful self showing me support and optimism. And as we hung up, I told her, “Hey Mom, you know what will be great someday? When the day comes where I am on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday or Ellen and I will say, ‘I remember my first webinar series, the only person that came was my mom and now, I am selling out stadiums.’”