Can’t Lose; Might Win; Always Learn

Ken Donaldson Can’t Lose; Might Win; Always Learn

Can’t Lose; Might Win; Always Learn…And You Might Just Write a Book!

I never lose. I either win or learn.” ~Nelson Mandela

A friend mentioned this quote earlier today and it struck me between the eyes. This was one of those “a-ha” moments, even though I’ve heard many iterations of this same idea. I’m guessing that many of you are nodding your heads as well.

But this isn’t how many (maybe even most) people operate. Too often, fear stops us before we ever get started.

So here’s a personal story. In 2004 I got this idea to write a book. I had tons of material from numerous workshops I’d presented over the years. I figured there was enough there for some of the core principles of this book. My primary focus at that time was helping people get clear about what they wanted in their lives, especially in their relationships. So, with great fear and apprehension, I got started.

This was the beginning of Marry YourSelf First! Say “I Do” to a Life of Passion, Power, Purpose and Prosperity.

I had no idea how to write or market a book. In fact I didn’t even consider the marketing aspect until I was almost done. As a side note, I didn’t have a website either.

I hired a very experienced book shepherd (Ivy Gilbert) to help guide me through the process. I wrote, reviewed and edited many times. About once a week I felt completely overwhelmed and blinded by fear and called Ivy to inform her that I was quitting the project. She always talked me back into it, usually reminding me that this was an important message that people needed to hear.

I shared some of the completed chapters with friends, clients and colleagues to get their input and feedback. I wrote and wrote and edited and edited and rewrote and rewrote. Every time a suggestion for changing something was made, I got angry and frustrated. I wanted it to be perfect and I kept finding errors, and when I did that little voice in my head kept saying,

You’ll never finish this. You’re not a writer. This project will fail.

After somewhere around the 14th rewrite Ivy reminded me that at some point the book needed to be printed. So I held my breath and hit the send button. 3,000 books boxed and carefully arranged on pallets arrived at my house on December 23rd, 2005. I was happy and scared.

Now what?!!

I was expecting the phone to start ringing and the orders to pour in. I also knew for sure that Oprah would want me on her show and even want me to start my own show.

The phone didn’t ring, the orders were few and far between and Oprah never did call.

I felt discouraged and that ever so persistent voice of negativity tried to remind me of my failure.

But then a good friend reminded me of something: The majority of people say they want to write a book and only about 1% ever do. His words rung deeply as he went on to say,

You’ve already succeeded.

From that point forward I surrounded myself with authors and other people who remind me of my success, my diligence and all my efforts. This all seemed to offset that nagging little negative voice of failure in my head. It finally lost its power over me.

Since then I created an audio version of Marry YourSelf First, as well as writing a much-improved second edition. I’ve also sold over 10,000 copies and have been interviewed by multiple media outlets.

I faced the fears, and I still do, and keep putting one foot in front of the other.

I never failed, and didn’t always win, but I always learned and that’s what got me to where I am today.

So what are some of the fears that limit us? Fear of:

  • Failure
  • Rejection
  • Abandonment
  • Embarrassment
  • Being laughed at
  • Being made fun of
  • Ridicule

The irony is that these fears are preemptive, meaning they are made up in one’s head. These same fears often prevent the person from even having a chance to try something.

In other words, most of these fears are not real, won’t happen and usually can’t happen.

Why, then, do we allow ourselves to be so controlled by fear?

The simple answer is that we often don’t know we have a choice. We’ve been operating from the same limiting belief system most of our lives. We don’t realize we’re preventing ourselves from living fully, trying new things and experimenting with life.

In the mainstream of life there are few courses or classes on confronting your fears or realigning your belief system. We often look to see what others around us are doing and we make assumptions that we should do the same thing.

Maintaining the status quo only keeps us stuck, at best, and more often robs us of our enthusiasm. This prevents us from stepping out of the box of self-limiting beliefs and embracing the possibility of what could be.

Imagine for a moment that you couldn’t lose or fail. That doesn’t mean that you’d always win or succeed but, rather, it would mean that you’d always learn. And when you continue to learn, you become one step closer to winning and succeeding.

“Reframing” is a word I use often in my work. It means that you look at the same situation through a different frame or lens. Many people look at life’s challenges through the “I can’t do that,” “I’ll fail again,” or “People will make fun of me” lenses. Consider the following reframes:

  • I can do that.
  • I’ll always learn something.
  • It doesn’t matter what others think of me, it only matters what I think of me
  • I’ve already succeeded, just by doing what 99% don’t do

In other words, what if you gave yourself permission to look at “failure” as a great opportunity to learn and not repeat the same mistakes? When you do this, you give yourself permission to live in a much bigger realm of life. I like to call this:

The Land of All Possibilities.

This must require going contrary to thoughts or feelings. Our “caveman brain” will try to sway us from anything new or unknown because of the perceived threat. When you go ahead and act, you begin to retrain the brain to be comfortable stepping out of the “comfort zone” and into The Land of All Possibilities.

There are no winners or losers; there are only those who give up on experimenting and those who continue. My vote is that you try on the latter. All you can do is learn. And that will always improve your life. And when you do that, you begin to live without limits.

 

What’s your learning opportunity right now?
I’m here to listen
.

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