Posts Tagged ‘how to succeed’

I am the project manager on the buildout of a new counseling center for my community.

As a result, I feel weak — like one in need of therapy.

I am fairly confident that I will make the contract deadline for the center and handover a stunningly necessary, functional and even upscale set of gorgeous offices.

I feel strong.

Honestly — I fluctuate.

I worked hard today, and yesterday, and the day before that, and the week before that, and the year before that, and for the last ten years before that — and pretty much all my life on leveraging what I have been given for the benefit of others —  and myself.  I’ve worked hard on personal visions and also on institutionally core initiatives, and I’ve had some good successes — accomplishments and progressifications — but I’ve also had some keen and bitter disappointment-a-mongers too.

The week I enjoyed being part of a team that is finding housing for a resource challenged women with significant disability. I think we’ve got it, thanks to my partner, and God.

And yet, last night I dreamed of a silent, disapproving, disloyal group of fat middle-class white men hovering ominously over me. I wonder where that came from?

I know.

It’s okay.

I have agency, which requires past experience, and I have character, which requires continuity, and I have integrity (I absolutely adore integrity), and yet I have also had  bad dreams mixed up within my agency — which as I am trying to tell you — is required for success, a kind of abject brokenness comingled with unstoppable love — this is the stuff that keeps driving us forward like a giant tunneling, underground drill bit.

And so, and thus and such, like many of us I am making friends with the adversative conjunction “but.”

I’m confident, but also emotionally bumfuzzled.  My core emotions dive into the  abyssopelagic, but they also sore to the summit. I am weak but strong,  disappointed but fulfilled, cynical but annoyingly chipper.

These are normal feelings for all of us who work hard and hope for much.

The low country of emotion — despair, disillusionment and doubt — they are close companions, even friends, even family members of passion, strength and hopefulness. Empowered people suffer, keep moving;  fail, keep risking; despair, keep hoping.

When we hear of empowered people, we picture a person who is fired up, on vision steroids, on courage adrenaline, always strong. Not so much. Remember Sampson. The inspired people range, they vary, they run the gamut, they ply the spectrum, from high to low.

In fact, and this is the deal, as has been said before, “Your mess is your message.” Your weakness creates your strength, your broken moments are your credentials.  You are a hot emotive mess, and a fiery, muscle force, all in one.

Within your empowerment lies your weakness, like the core of a nuclear reactor, and this weakness fuels your success, producing within you a cardinal and necessary equipoise.

Don’t forget this: the essential, contradictory emotional dualism endemic to all humans   keeps us humble. It will keep us from becoming obnoxious, insensitive, and vegetal, and it will keep us emotionally bifurcated in exactly the way needed for others to survive the astonishing success we have yet to achieve.

Failure is not the most humbling thing, usually — success is.

Not for everybody of course, but for all of us, if we are willing to look success in the eye — and not blink.

The other day I succeed in hiring a new staff member for my organization, a young woman with little experience but a beautifully inspiring persona that perfectly matches the work she will do. It was very humbling.

I knew how to do this by previously failing at doing this, and then succeeding at it a few times, which has made me super-aware that no matter how well you vet a potential hire, you don’t know them until you know them — over time — or you intuit them precisely and accurately, or you get lucky.

Most every success is born of some failure and includes within it some failure so it contains both success and failure. This helps with the humility thing.

Take me. I am a modestly successful writer. I have failed at this writing thing more than I have succeeded. I have written much more that has remained unpublished than has been published. I have written a few things well, and many things in a mediocre fashion. Interestingly, my best work is unplublished — except as it exists in blog form — written for a small following. I consider it successful just to have written it, even if it were read by no one.  My best writing is a personal success, not a public success, quite humble in impact and influence, but hugely satisfying to me.

Success, furthermore — when it is rightly considered — is also humbling because it is communal. We can’t take the credit alone. Each and everyone of our successes follows and builds on someone else’s previous success, on their nurture of us, on their input, their contribution, their support, often their collaboration with us.

I recently oversaw a rather large building project — a beautiful, interior garden courtyard. It was all others — their money, their expertise, their volunteerism, their passion, their aesthetic, their labor.

It is always like that.

I am a teacher. I know how to do the teacherly thing. Every teacher I have ever had — from first grade through graduate school — made me a teacher. All their input, modeling, nuturing and care — as well as that of my family and my many friends — this support made me a into a reasonably effective pedagogue.

Finally, much of our success — as previously noted — is luck, or chance or providence. It is not us, and we know it. Anyone who has made it will tell you that. To come on the scene at the right time, to be the right fit, to have an opportunity come our way — so much literally falls into our laps, or it doesn’t.

My current job — which I absolutely adore, mostly — and which has contained much success — was handed to me. I did nothing to get it. All God, I’d say, and a few other odd, painful and interesting circumstances.

Success — it’s a form of humility.

If we don’t know that, we know nothing of success.