I had dinner with my brilliant friend and fellow Milwaukeean Phil Gerbyshak the other night and he showed me the largest scrape I’ve ever seen. It went from his hand up the entire length of his arm…biking accident in Portland. (Wouldn’t be surprised if my buddy Robert Caruso had something to do with it, he’s trouble.)
It’s amazing how people are so proud of their scars once the pain is gone. I know I am.
I immediately dove into the lake the other day after my phone fell out of my pocket and off the boat. I somehow managed to grab it in the depths of the lake before it sunk to the bottom. The phone was ruined, but I was so proud of it when I came back to the surface.
Proud of my broken phone?
Someday will I be proud of my big failures? Will I be proud of the many mistakes I’ve made?
I’m not sure. Some of these events are still so painful. However, I will be proud I kept going…kept fighting forward. The scars will be proof. They will remind me of where I’ve been, who I am, and how I got to where I am now.
If you’re still in pain over your failures, I wanted to drop you this note tonight and tell you that someday you’ll be proud of what you’ve gone through.
We are warriors. These battles we fight are painful. Most quit. We get hurt. We have scars.
Zookeepers breed endangered species in captivity to save them from extinction. However, something bad usually happens.
When they release them into the wild, the animals that were bred in captivity often do not avoid predators and are not able to find ample food or shelter for themselves. They die as a result.
We are breeding humans in captivity.
In an effort to protect children from the dangers of failure or setback, some have made them unfit for the wild world they’ll be living in. For years, I’ve watched parents and teachers lie to their children.
In the name of self esteem, they comfortably praise children for everything they do, even when they fail to do anything special, smart, or strong.
You tried? Here’s a trophy or ribbon!
Unfortunately, this isn’t real life. Now that Generation Y is out in “The Wild”, they are surprised when the company they applied to doesn’t think they’re special, the words they write aren’t smart, or their strongest performance isn’t enough. They learn that anything but first place may not be good enough.
Confused, these young people move in with their parents, go back for more school, or join the Occupy Wall Street protests.
They were bred in captivity.
If we want our children or team members to know how to hunt or protect themselves, then we must teach them how at an early age. No longer should people be praised because they participated. It is lazy and easy to praise everyone for everything. Far more difficult and important, is to find the specific gifts that each person has, encourage them to use the gifts, and then support them as they fail, learn, and grow.
We must teach them to fish, not give them fish. We must show them the real world, not hide them from it.
We must let them fail.
The school of hard knocks teaches real life lessons. Losers will become learners. Failing may be the best thing that can happen to a young person.
Usually, 8pm Warriors that make something great during their lives can point to key situations where success happened by an inch or two. It might be the large client that changed their mind and chose you, or the time you found just enough capital to push through a slow period.
Those victories are won by an inch. Every inch, every chance mattered for success.
The same goes for failure.
One of the reasons I am so passionate about pushing my absolute limits is because everywhere I look, I see inches. I try to take every inch when I can, not knowing how far I really have to go to reach my goal.
Even so, I am worried about missing by a couple inches. It’s one of my greatest fears and cause of numerous agonizing defeats.
I’m not alone.
We all need inches and tonight is the best time to find them.
PS. One of my friends mentioned that this pep talk below really fits with this topic. I agree. Check it out.
I’ve made every wrong choice a middle-aged man can make. I pissed away all my money, believe it or not. I chased off anyone who’s ever loved me, and lately, I can’t even stand the face I see in the mirror.
You know when you get old in life, things get taken from you. That’s part of life. But you only learn that when you start losing stuff. You find out life’s this game of inches. And so is football. Because in either game, life or football, the margin for error is so small. I mean…one half a step too late or too early and you don’t quite make it. One half second too slow too fast, you don’t quite catch it.
The inches we need are everywhere around us. They are in every break of the game, every minute, every second.
On this team, we fight for that inch. On this team, we tear ourselves and everyone else around us to pieces for that inch. We claw with our fingernails for that inch. Because we know when we add up all those inches, that’s gonna make the difference between winning and losing! Between living and dying!
I’ll tell you this – in any fight, its the guy who’s willing to die who’s gonna win that inch. And I know if I’m going to have any life anymore, it’s because I’m still willing to fight and die for that inch. Because that’s what living is!
It’s common to hear mentors advise young people to do what they love. I’ve offered that advice myself many times.
However, I wonder if it’s become an excuse for some who confuse “doing what they love” with avoiding things they don’t love.
Rejection is painful
No one loves working long hours while others play
The best way to successfully do what you love is to work while others play, get rejected numerous times, and fail forward and faster than others in your field. In a world of unlimited competition, the winners will be separated by mere inches, their level of passion, and the bravery to do what hurts.
Doing what hurts is the key to doing what you love.
If you answer “Yes” to any of these, then maybe we can help each other.
When I started the 8pm Warrior blog back in December, I explained that I was motivated to create a community of people that had big dreams, pushed their personal limits, and loved their work. So far, I have failed.
Despite having hundreds of readers some days, we still have work to do if we’re going to build something that is helpful, supportive, and worthwhile. The missing ingredient?
I’ll keep at it, but I need your feedback on how we can make this work. Maybe I need to do less talking, and more asking? Do I post too late? I honestly would like your feedback.
Possibly, some folks don’t realize how great it can be…how it can help us all go further?
Here are just two examples of successful community groups I’d like to recreate for people like us: