Failure and Self-Reflection

Failure is an inevitable consequence of life.

It happens in small ways every day and in major ways (subjectively according to us) each year because that’s the only way life can work.

Our striving for perfection will fall short because what’s perfect yesterday will not be the ideal we want to achieve tomorrow. If nothing changes in your life from year to year, you’ve either reached the point of perfect contentment or you’re avoiding something.

Failure will happen. We don’t have to glorify it (as many online inspirational quotes want to do), but we should be ready to accept it because that’s how we grow.

When failure happens, take some time to reflect on it.

Make a decision going forward to change your thinking about the situation so you can be better prepared for tomorrow. Accept, reflect and move forward.

No One Gave You Permission

No one gave me permission to write.

I simply sat down, started writing and eventually started sharing my words with the world. At first, it was all garbage and quite embarrassing. However, there were small breakthroughs happening that encouraged me to keep going.

Over time, I learned my strengths, weaknesses and how to find my voice. There were also publications, requests to speak, give workshops and joint ventures. I’m still working on finding my voice and testing the waters in new areas, having fun along the way.

However, no one gave me permission to do it nor did I seek any.

No one gives you permission to start a band with your friends. As Dave Grohl told Sky Magazine, musicians should just buy an old drum set, get in their garage and suck. Then get their friends to come in and they’ll suck, too. Then they’ll start playing, have fun and suddenly become Nirvana.

When it comes to creating art, no one needs to give you permission. Just get out there and do it.

There’s Still Time Left in the Year

I’m already seeing the headlines pop up in my feed about getting off to the right foot for 2018.

Soon there will be a deluge of posts about how to properly set new years resolutions, how to follow through and a whack of other information about looking forward.

The new year hasn’t started yet.

There’s still time left this year to get started and get going on the right foot. Why should you wait a few weeks when you have this moment available to you right now?


Book Love Book Review

Author: Penny Kittle
Book Link

It’s very rare today for a book to come along where I find myself slowing down to devour every single word on the page – especially in the realm of non-fiction.

My usual pace with these books is to read the first few chapters in depth to see where it’s going, then pick up the pace while glossing over swaths of text that seem redundant. It doesn’t help that many non-fiction books feel like those chunks of text were added to meet a word count.

This book blew me away.

Kittle is a passionate teacher who has a deep love of reading and writing, which is obvious from the start. It’s a passion she passes along to her students, teaching them to enjoy reading for the love of reading and nothing else. All I could think is her students are fortunate to have her.

This book is her thoughts and methodology at building a classroom library and finding ways to engage students with the right book. I loved not only her honesty, but the honesty of her students who give the real details teachers often don’t want to hear.

We are given many stories throughout of her successes and challenges in building a culture where reading is prized and students go home and devour books that interest them. As a teacher, I’ve always struggled with literary analysis because it was a turnoff for me as a student.

Does it have its place?

Of course. It’s the reason I discovered Mordecai Richler and combed through the nuances of Hamlet. I also took courses in genre fiction in University just to break up the monotony of thick, Theology textbooks for my major. However, I understand that I’m an odd duck who devours books like it’s a necessary part of living (an INFJ trait, I’m told).

Kittle shows us how many students don’t have the interest, skill, or stamina (sometimes all three), to be active readers. Literary analysis falls on deaf ears because students simply don’t read the assigned books. They either use SparkNotes, online essays, or wait for a class discussion to start and comment on the themes mentioned to make it look like they’ve read.

We can’t blame them for doing this.

What we can do, is find books to match their interest and let them be swept away for nothing but the love of reading. Then challenge them to take it up a notch until they’re reading the classics we so desperately want them to enjoy.

Kittle makes you believe it’s possible because she’s done it for years.

Even if I were to take no suggestions for my own classroom… which is not the case because I’ve already started building my library for the new year… you will walk away from this book with an appreciation for books themselves.

It will probably take me a few years to get it going, but at the very least, I will now slow down and enjoy each word I come across on a page.

No Incentive But Respect

It took many years before I came around to enjoying The Tragically Hip.

While they were a Canadian obsession since I was a child, I just didn’t get it. Perhaps part of it was a rebellious streak to not like something my sisters enjoyed… you know… just to be different and unique (like every other rebellious teenager).

Thanks to the constant badgering of my younger, but marginally wiser, cousin, I gave them a fair chance in my twenties. I wouldn’t say I became a fan overnight, but pretty close. I finally got it.

During their last concert, the CBC put up the funds and infrastructure to stream the entire show. There were no commercials, announcers, or interruptions of any sort – not even a lead-in or outro to remind you this was being streamed by the network.

The only other time this happens is when tragedy strikes.

There was no incentive for them to do this except to honour a wonderful Canadian band, whom the country loved and respected.

Imagine if we made efforts like this more often.

People don’t always want to see the world burn, they also want to feel like they a part of something bigger.

Is It Really Your Best?

If we’re being totally honest with ourselves, our best isn’t always what we say it is.

I lost count of the number of times I told myself it was the best I could do, whether it was school, relationships, friendships, work, sports… or anything else where an expectation was demanded of me. To all of it, “I did my best.”

Yet, in the back of my mind, there was a nagging voice whispering…

“You’re lying.”

The best you can do is more than just putting effort into it. It’s bringing passion, experience, connections and all the resources you can muster together.

It’s about making it blatantly obvious to others you really cared about what you were doing.

You not only cared about it being the best you can do, but about the best others can see you do.

It’s looking back on it years later and still being able to say with sincerity, “I gave what I had to make it the best I could.”

When looking at it from this perspective, it’s impossible to give everything your best. You’ll need to choose.

But when you do, the end result will be satisfying.


The ROI of Connection

“Check out how many followers we have.”

“Look at the number of subscribers!”

“Did you see how many ‘likes’ our last post got?”

That’s great… but did you hear the sigh of relief from a group of students who vocally expressed their appreciation that somebody actually listened to them?

How about seeing firsthand the fire that was lit under another person to make some great changes in their life?

Did anyone send you a personalized message recently to express their sincere gratitude for understanding what they were going through in life?

Does a business owner give you a VIP treatment when you walk into their establishment… not because of your popularity… but the sincere connection the two of you have with each other?

Anything I wanted to do in life, or places I’ve wanted to visit, have all been made possible because of real connections built slowly over the last twenty years.

When you make authentic connections with people, the ROI of each of them become exponential.

Ways To Live Your Life

You can complain non-stop about everyone and everything, doing nothing to improve the situation.

You can indulge in vices in hopes they will silence your inner demons.

You can avoid responsibility and wonder why people try avoiding you.

You can carefully plan every detail, get hyper focused and stop at nothing until it comes into fruition.

You can embrace what life has to offer and grab on to every opportunity that comes your way, squeezing every bit out of it.

You can tackle every day as if it’s the last good one you got left, hustling from beginning to end.

You can learn from your successes and failures, appreciating both for the lessons they teach you.

You can be content with living each day, appreciating its moments.

Make a choice each day for the life you want.

Everything Comes Around

When I was working on the automotive assembly line as a student, there was a saying in the plant:

“If you haven’t heard a good rumor by 10am… start one.”

Sure enough, almost every day there would be a rumor of the line shutting down early, a potential strike looming or somebody on the frame line who was about to get canned. You could depend on any one of those rumors hitting your ears by lunch.

If not, you started it and would hear it again by the end of your shift.

In education, if a teacher isn’t particularly fond of the current pedagogical push being put on them, all they have to do is wait five years and something new will come around.

Of course, this new something is actually a re-packaged version of something that was done years prior.

The pulp fiction writers of the thirties appeared to have disappeared, but a slew of pulp writers have emerged today with the advent of self-publishing and writers pounding out a novel (or more) a month.

Imperialism hasn’t gone away, we just call it different names.

Colonialism isn’t gone either, we just renamed it globalization and pretended it wasn’t just a few particular cultures who had all the influence.

There’s a resurgence of record stores, a spike of interest in board games, a boomerang of fashion trends and music artists are back to making money doing live shows.

Everything comes back around if you give it enough time.