Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Wednesday Wisdom - It's All About Learning


"Sometimes you succeed . . . and other times you learn." 
Robert Kiyosaki

I suppose you could call me a successful innovator.
In 2007, Financial Advisor Magazine named me a national "Innovator of the Year" for my cutting-edge work with "Priceless Conversations" and other story-based SunBridge tools for professional advisors. Before that, a good friend and I created a process called the "Interactive Family Heritage History" to help families capture their "narrative assets." A few years ago, I helped to develop "The Family Philanthropic Adventure" and "Main Street Philanthropy," activities and programs that teach life-skills to children, teens, and young adults through charitable giving. More recently my focus has been on building a system to help smart, safety-minded clients enjoy a Tax-Free Retirement.
I'm often asked the secret to my track record of creating this string of initiatives. Honestly, I'm still not sure I've got things completely sorted out, but I have learned to follow these three steps.
First, I'm willing to try new things. It all starts with seeing beyond the status quo and then going to work. You've got to dream and then you've got to do. Successful innovation and successful living are achieved by those down in the dusty arena scraping their knees and landing on their faces, not by those up in the seats watching.
Second, I'm not afraid to fail. To win, you've got to jump in and dare to be ugly. Successful people aren't paralyzed by the fear of failure. Winners are not afraid of losing, but losers are. Failure is part of the process of success. Don't wallow in your setbacks.
Third - and this may be key - I harvest and apply the lessons from my "failures." My path to success is littered with the debris of hundreds of disasters, but I learned something from each one. It's not just falling down; it's learning why you fell down and figuring out how to avoid stumbling the next time. Each step back must lead to a step up. Pick yourself up, brush yourself off, and move on, bruised and battered perhaps, but wiser and tougher and even more determined to get it right.

A little bonus poetry:
After I wrote this post, it occurred to me that some of these thoughts are similar to those in one of my favorite poems, "Good Timber" by Douglas Malloch. I hope you enjoy it:
The tree that never had to fight
For sun and sky and air and light,
But stood out in the open plain
And always got its share of rain,
Never became a forest king
But lived and died a scrubby thing.
The man who never had to toil
To gain and farm his patch of soil,
Who never had to win his share
Of sun and sky and light and air,
Never became a manly man
But lived and died as he began.
Good timber does not grow with ease:
The stronger wind, the stronger trees;
The further sky, the greater length;
The more the storm, the more the strength.
By sun and cold, by rain and snow,
In trees and men good timbers grow.
Where thickest lies the forest growth,
We find the patriarchs of both.
And they hold counsel with the stars
Whose broken branches show the scars
Of many winds and much of strife.
This is the common law of life.

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