How to Fail Successfully

What is the difference between failure that leads to innovation and failure that leads to… more failure?

What does it mean when people say, “That was a successful failure”?

The answer, researchers believe, lies not in the failure itself but how we recall it or, more precisely, how we store it. Successful failures are those people who remember exactly where and how they failed. This way, when they encounter the same problem again, they’re able to retrieve these “failure indices” quickly and efficiently. They don’t make the same mistake twice.

It seems that the advice we were given as children when confronted with failure, “Just forget it and move on” is wrong. “Remember it and move on” is the way to success.

The guiding principle for “successful failure” is the scientific method. Fail until something works. It’s about failing in a thoughtful and efficient manner. Failure can be a wonderful learning experience as long as it’s in the aid of some continuing process. The important thing is to fail early. Kill the ones that aren’t working right away.

fertilizer failure

Think of failure like fertilizer. It must be used by a skilled farmer, otherwise it is useless and smells bad.

Is Education an Essential Ingredient to Genius?

Bill gates, Steve Jobs, Woody Allen. All college dropouts. Einstein’s PhD dissertation was rejected twice. Thomas Edison dropped out of school at age fourteen. While some geniuses (Marie Curie and Sigmund Freud, for example) were stellar students, most were not.

In a study of some 300 creative geniuses, Dean Simonton found that the majority made it only halfway through what was considered a modern education at the time. Any more, or less, was detrimental. So while some education is essential to creative genius, it seems that beyond a certain point, more education does not increase the chances of genius but instead lowers it.

The deadening effect of formal education manifests itself surprisingly early. Psychologists have identified the exact year when a child’s creative thinking skills plateau: the fourth grade.

I Found the Key to Happiness!!

I’ve found the key to happiness!

It hit me like a bolt of lightening after observing other cultures while traveling through South East Asia.

Here it is:

I don’t want anything more than what I have right now. I don’t wish to be anywhere else than where I currently am.

Really internalize these thoughts. When you do, you cannot NOT be happy. When you truly believe that everything in life happens exactly as it’s supposed to (and it does), you release yourself from a desire to control and thus become free to experience joy in it’s purest form (presence and gratitude).

All that you have right now is all that you need. And you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be.

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Anxious Thinking

“Don’t let anxious thinking replace vulnerable feelings.”

Life Comes in Waves

Life comes in waves.

It ebbs and flows.

Let things come

and let things go.

An Ode to Travelers (Travel Inspiration)

Traveling introduces us to ourselves. As we discover more of our world, we discover more of who we are.

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We visit places that leave us speechless, and then turn us into storytellers.

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We learn how other people live. There are so many ways to exist.

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And we get to choose!

…but we only get one life.

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We push past limits. Break through boundaries. And live outside of our comfort zones.

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We meet people. Love people. Trust people.

Even when we don’t share a language…

It’s okay because we’ve learned how to trust ourselves. And our intuition.

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We make unforgettable memories, that become like secret treasures…shared only by those who were there.

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Our loved ones want to hear about our travels. They like our stories of adventure. So we do our best to tell them. But we can only share so much.

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Because the truth is, the great things in life can’t be captured or described, only experienced.

And the best moments of all, no doubt the traveler’s favorite, are the ones that can’t even be understood…only appreciated.

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3 Weeks of Travel in 3 Minutes (Lessons and Adventures)

Is America Really Successful?

I recently got home from an incredible adventure abroad and want to share some observations with you, which I think are important. I spent three weeks traveling through Thailand and Vietnam. While the trip was unforgettable, I’m glad to be home (and for all new reasons).

Things I’ll miss about Vietnam and Thailand: the friendly people, smiling faces, and simplicity.

Things I’ll appreciate more in America: clean drinking water, fresh air, and being able to sit outside in the sun for more than 2 minutes without being soaked in sweat.

Probably the biggest and most obvious culture shock upon returning to America, even just making my way through the airports, is how unhappy we, as a people, are in comparison to these other cultures. I’ve spent a lot of time pondering this. What’s causing it? Can we change?

First off, I think we have too many options. As Americans, we have all grown up in so much favor that it’s often hard to remember to be grateful. We have so many things to be grateful for but instead, we focus on what we don’t have yet. Things we want. Places we’d rather be. It’s tragic really, because in the midst of all of our wanting and wishing, we miss the joy that’s right in front of us.

Secondly, I think our definition of success is wrong. From birth we’re conditioned to work hard so we can live the life we want. We work hard, get to where we want to be, and our definition of success changes. Now we want even more. So we work hard to get there and still aren’t satisfied. And on and on it goes.

America is known as one of the most productive, successful societies in history. And we have a lot to show for our efforts. Productive? Absolutely. Successful? That’s debatable.

How can you be successful when your people are unhappy?

After observing the Thai and Vietnamese people, I personally think they’re a lot further along in the realm of successful living than we are. This is because, unlike the vast majority of Americans, they’re not stuck in a perpetual state of longing, they’re too busy living.

Unlike Americans, they’re not in a rush. They takes things as they come rather than bulldozing full speed ahead in an attempt to grasp things not yet meant to be. Comparatively speaking, their lives are simple. Men are seen squatting on every corner. Women are fanning themselves in the street. This simplicity lends itself to generosity. They notice the little things that we so often take for granted. They aren’t happy because everything is going their way. They’re happy because they trust that the way things are going is the best way, even when it’s not their own.

I don’t know the recipe for happiness nor do I have the formula for success pinned down. But if I had to guess… simplicity, faith, and a grateful heart are the best starting points.

What Distinguishes a Good Work of Art from a Work of Genius?

A good work of art, even a great one, speaks to people of a certain time.

However, a work of genius transcends temporal bounds. It is continuously rediscovered anew by successive generations. In other words, a work of genius isn’t static. It bends (and is bent by) each new audience that encounters it.

For example, the art of the Greeks and the Egyptians, is not art of the past. One could even argue that it is more alive today than ever before. As Pablo Picasso once said, “There is no past or future in art. If a work of art cannot live always in the present, it must not be considered art at all.”

Works of genius live in the now.

Patara Elephant Farm – Chiang Mai, Thailand

Yesterday, I visited the Patara Elephant Farm in Chiang Mai, Thailand (www.pataraelephantfarm.com). They’re a great organization that rescues and breeds elephants. The program I participated in is called Elephant Owner for a Day. No words can describe how incredible this day was for me but I’ve chosen to attempt anyhow.

Me taking a selfie with an elephant who smiled for the camera :)

Me taking a selfie with an elephant who smiled for the camera🙂

Upon arrival at the property, we were greeted by a baby elephant and his mother. For the first hour, the staff simply observed us in order to determine which elephant would be our best fit. Just like humans, elephants have very distinct personalities and therefore, it’s important for the staff to carefully match the elephant and his/her “owner” for the day.

Patara Elephant Farm
Patara Elephant Farm

The baby elephant was very playful and kept trying to wrestle with us. Though he be but small, he is STRONG.

The baby elephant was very playful and kept trying to wrestle with us. Though he be but small, he is STRONG. Mama is always close by.

After this initial period of observation and a quick debriefing on the elephants, it was time for the staff to reveal our matches. We sat in a circular hut as they went around one by one and told us who our elephant for the day would be. When they got to me, I was informed that I had been chosen as the best match for Booyin, the alpha male and leader of our herd. He was noticeably larger than the other elephants and one of the only ones in our group with tusks.

Booyin

Booyin

I must admit, upon first sight, I was intimidated by Booyin. “He is the dominant male of our herd and doesn’t like to be told what to do,” the staff warned. “…But don’t worry, you will be great with him. Just don’t be afraid because he will sense your fear and lose respect.” ……….”Okay, I can do this,” I tried to reassure myself.

Booyin and I meet for the first time.

Booyin and I meet for the first time.

Despite my initial hesitation, Booyin and I hit it off from the start. The other guests would come over to us and want their picture taken with him. I found myself feeling territorial as I stroked his side and reluctantly agreed. (Perhaps I had more in common with Booyin than I thought?;) I fed him bananas from a basket (he stole a bunch too), while patting his head and saying, “Deedee, Booyin.” Which means “Good boy, Booyin.” We took our time getting comfortable with one another. I suspect Booyin sensed my initial fear, but as soon as I began to warm up, so did he.

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Before long, it was time for us to begin our 45 minute hike through the jungle. In order to get onto his back, I commanded Booyin to bend down. He bowed with his front right leg bent. I stood on his calf as he raised me effortlessly and I used his ear to pull myself the rest of the way up. I sat on his neck, my legs firmly clutching just behind his ears. I had nothing to hold onto and was suddenly much higher off the ground than I expected. We began our trek.

Patara Elephant Farm

We hiked through the jungle, up steep hills and back down. Through winding bends, and near the edge of deep cliffs. At one point, when we were descending a particularly steep and rocky hill, Booyin began to jog. I bounced around his neck, fearful that at any moment I would fall. I squeezed my legs as tight as I could and commanded Booyin to slow down. But he was used to being the boss and gave little attention to my measly commands. Instead, he graciously pressed his large ears back, covering my legs, as if to say, “Don’t worry, I’ve got you.” I instantly felt much more secure. Not only was I holding onto Booyin, but now he was also holding onto me.

Patara elephant farm

Never mind his independent nature and somewhat naughty streak, I trusted Booyin and he could sense this. In return for my trust, he gave me his trust and made sure to treat me with gentleness and care. Our connection was amazing. I wish I could describe this experience better, but like all of life’s best moments, it simply can’t be captured.

Patara Elephant Farm

After 45 minutes of trekking through the jungle, I was relieved when we reached a water hole and Booyin jumped in. I slid off his back and began to splash him with water. I used a brush to comb the dirt off his legs and trunk, only to discover I would need to climb back on him in order to brush the dirt off his back. After his bath, we splashed around in the water together before heading to a nearby waterfall so that I could wash myself, too. And boy was I dirty. In fact, the dirt still remains under my finger and toenails. I had no idea spending a day with an elephant could be so dirty. When I got home last night, I scrubbed my hands and feet for over an hour and still wasn’t able to remove all the dirt. I did, however, gain a nice, large blister on my right thumb from trying. Regardless, the stubbornness of dirt and mud pales in comparison to the joy of bonding with an elephant like I did with Booyin.

Lovely Lunch by the waterfall

Lovely Lunch after swimming in the waterfall

Booyin stealing kisses (and food) from me during lunch.

Booyin stealing kisses (and food) from me during lunch.

If you are ever in Chaing Mai and have a chance to visit Patara Elephant farm, do yourself a favor and go. I can’t recommend it highly enough.