A Flashbulb Lights the Moment, But the Sun Shows Us the Way.

Posted by on December 27, 2010
“Success is a snowflake,” she said. I was talking to the princess of my world, doing my best to ignore the day that waited impatiently outside our door. I had shown her the photo of Jane DeDecker’s Old Man and the Sea and told her the back story of Teddy Roosevelt’s famous statement,

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

In Hemingway’s Nobel Prize-winning story, the old man, Santiago, tries valiantly, suffers mightily, makes all the right decisions and catches the magnificent fish… only to see it eaten by sharks before he can get it home. Did he succeed or fail?

Santiago saw the snowflake. Hemingway saw the snowflake. Roosevelt saw the snowflake.

Success is that snowflake: beautiful, perfect and gone too soon, leaving only spots that dance before your eyes from the bright flashbulb of Life’s photographer. “Is it over? Did I win?”

Yes. Now go home. Tomorrow is another day, my friend, and you are not yet dead.

We live in a culture that pretends
the snowflake will last forever. 

“The most popular books are manuals: how to become a millionaire in ten easy lessons, how to lose fifteen pounds a week, how to recover from your divorce, and so on. People always go around looking for shortcuts and ways to escape anything they consider unpleasant: ugliness, old age, weight, illness, poverty, and
failure in any of its aspects.”  – Isabel Allende, My Invented Country

Failure is not a flashbulb but the sun, lighting the way, revealing our mistakes, a loving teacher that causes the snowflake to sparkle beautifully as it falls.

Have you been afraid of Failure? Don’t be. Tom Peters, that Dean of Worldwide Business Consultants, says, “Reward excellent failures. Punish mediocre successes.”

Think of risky undertakings as “experiments.” Regardless of whether your experiment succeeds or fails, you’re going to learn something useful.  And as Life’s photographer told you, “Tomorrow is another day, my friend, and you are not yet dead.”

Roy H. Williams

PS – Would you like to know how to pierce the clutter and persuade? The penultimate squabble between left brain and right is the 3-day Magical Worlds Communications Workshop at Wizard Academy and it’s happening January 11-13. We’ve held a room open for you in Engelbrecht House so that you can stay on campus. Room and board will be yours at no charge.

If you need to persuade women, (or even one woman in particular,) then you must – this is not a suggestion but a statement of fact – you must attend the inaugural session of Unzipped on January 26-27, taught by the twinkling Michele Miller and the insightful Tom Wanek.

Come, make 2011 a very good year.

NOTE FROM INDY: It’s that week between Christmas and New Year’s. I figure your routine is disrupted and you may have large and strange windows of time to fill, so I gave you a particularly long and winding rabbit hole this week. 

PPS: Are you ready to make some changes in your business? 2011 can be a very good year for you if you’re willing to lift your eyes from your dusty circumstances and see the opportunities that peek out at you from the near horizon. Come to Austin on Wednesday, February 16, and I’ll tell you more.

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