What compels writers to feature themselves on covers of their books? Does it mean you’ll become that person by reading it, how pointing at a menu photo will land you questionable lo mein?
These deep questions came to mind as I stared at the cover of The Success Principles by Jack Canfield, that Chicken Soup for the Soul guy. Although I still question his cover choice, the book’s contents are golden.
I’m not far in, but it’s already given me such comfort. One minor quote was presented in a way that (finally) clicked with me: “…successful people experience fear and negativity on a daily basis yet still choose to move forward toward their goals. Negative thoughts, rejection, fear—they’re just part of the process!”
I got it: success and failure are two sides of the same coin. Its denomination? Trying.
Interestingly, the experience that ushered this book into my life could be seen as negative.
It might’ve been the bowling that did us in. It was our first date, and although I tried my best to lose, I ended up beating him. By a lot.
For both of us, it was an embarrassing and buzz killing turn of events. I wanted him to win because I didn’t care about victory. Plus, I assumed his fragile ego would be injured by loss. And on a primal level I felt like, Come on, dude! Beat my ass.
If it’d been a private decimation it might’ve been survivable. But bowling alleys are ruthless! Scores are obstinately held aloft onscreen, glowing for anyone with eyes and literacy skills to comprehend.
Truthfully, there was a bigger issue at hand: he was wishy-washy. I don’t know or care why. There’s no good explanation for ambivalence.
I know a lot of people who love to hate dating. They abhor it with the loathing I reserve for iTunes. And I could’ve joined them after the debacle with Mr. Zero-Bowling-Skills-Plus-Emotional-Unavailability.
And yet…from this leisure-themed romantic shit show came a gem: Canfield’s book. Zero Bowling told me about it and I was intrigued.
Scavenging goodness from un-cool experiences is nothing new. Honest to God, I’ve learned from every guy I’ve gone out with. Maybe they only provide another story for my mythical grandkids, or demonstrate how money truly does not solve our deepest heartaches, but masks them.
While accepting “failures” as par for the course is no small feat, let’s not stop there. Take it further and re-frame screw-ups with this idea: there are no mistakes, only lessons.
I know. So loopy. The first time I read it was in an email. I squinted at the screen while analyzing the sentence. I don’t know, I thought. Looking around I see LOTS of straight-up mistakes. From questionable tattoos and baby names to marrying narcissists, bad decisions are up there with death and taxes as one of our few certainties.
Trippy as it may be, when you think hard, the only real mistake is not learning an experience’s lesson.
And what was my lesson from the bowler? I didn’t follow my intuition. I formed an image of how he’d be based on a phone conversation and texting, and wouldn’t let go of it when he got sloppy with planning and briefly disappeared. The hideous, colorful tattoo very low on his forearm didn't help, either.
If you enjoyed this post or found it helpful, please share it on Twitter or Facebook using the "Share" button below. Or, leave a comment and tell me what you think!