Kristen Lamb

Author, Blogger, Social Media Jedi

Kristen Lamb — Photo

Posts Tagged: failure and success

Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Anamorphic Mike.
Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Anamorphic Mike.

Last time we talked about quitting. Successful people quit all the time. They quit bad relationships, toxic partnerships, dumb ideas or projects that fail to bear any fruit. They step back, assess and then change direction.

What do you want? How badly do you want it? What are you willing to sacrifice? These are the questions we must ask not once, but daily. There is no success without the GRIND.

Or perhaps, the G.R.I.N.D.

Give

Every day we have something to give that will keep propelling us forward. I love, love, love the movie Rocky. This is among my favorite quotes:

The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place, and I don’t care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward; how much you can take and keep moving forward. ~Rocky Balboa

Life does hit hard. I’ve been there more times than I can count.

Some of you know I was a high school drop out twice. I had the chance to simply get a GED but I chose to go back and finish even though I was embarrassingly older than my peers (19 in a class of 14 year-olds).

I worked hard at a community college until I won a full Air Force scholarship to become a doctor. Before I could enjoy that? I fell in an ice storm and broke my back.

My free ride was over. I took a job in a tiny mall store that sold motivational material. At the time, I couldn’t walk without a cane and while my coworkers spent the slow times chatting with friends on the phone, I read every single book in that store over and over and over.

knew physically I was a mess, but I also appreciated that this was a meantime. It was the span of suck before my breakthrough. What could I do for my will? For my mind? How could I keep my spirit healthy while my body mended?

Life hits and worse, it will sucker punch you. We may not always be able to do the big stuff, but we can keep pressing with the small stuff because greatness is not a singular moment. Rather…

Greatness is the accumulation of a lot of hidden moments that have no glory.

We give our best because our energy is seed. We plant our dreams and faith in the world and in others and trust that eventually it will bear fruit and eventually give back.

If I don’t have enough of something? I give it. That is a huge reason for this blog. Today, I need encouragement, so I am giving it. Want more love? Give it. Want more skill? Help others hone theirs. Want more passion? Give it.

Life is an echo.

Relentless

Moments before Kristen gets her tail kicked….
Moments before Kristen gets her tail kicked….

You want to do anything remarkable? Learn to be relentless. I heard someone once say that the richest place on earth is a graveyard because we cannot imagine what we’ve lost; the dreams, inventions, ideas that people took to their graves because they were afraid of failure.

One of the reasons I’ve always been such a pit bull is that my father was an extraordinarily talented man. Probably far more talented then I ever was. But he died penniless and working for $8 an hour in a bicycle shop. Why? Because the second anything got hard or gave pushback, he folded. For all we know, we lost one of the greatest writers of the 20th century because his fear was bigger than his faith.

One of the greatest lessons I have learned is that the harder life is pushing back? The better. Usually that is a sign we are doing something right.

Look back at your own life and I will guarantee you’ll see those times. You had a goal, a plan, and were actually seeing forward momentum then?

The AC in your house died, the car broke down, the kids got sick, the family decided to all go crazy simultaneously. You went from being ON FIRE to putting out nothing but grassfires.

Truth is, that’s a good sign. Keep pressing.

Invest

Image via Demi-Brooke Flickr Creative Commons
Image via Demi-Brooke Flickr Creative Commons

Invest in yourself. Talent is natural but it isn’t anything all that remarkable. Talent is nothing if it isn’t paired with skill. Skill is only something we can earn with blood and sweat and pain. We can’t earn skill on the sidelines, only on the mats. Hammering on our will, our mind, our craft day after day after day.

Skill only comes with failure.

Skill only comes with getting back up knowing we could fail again. Skill only comes when we appreciate that if we aren’t failing, we aren’t doing anything interesting. Skill eventually rises out of the ashes of our failures because we have made all the wrong moves and so we begin to recognize the right ones.

Skill comes from reaching out to those who are better, wiser and asking for help. Skill comes from humility. Read craft books, take classes, ask questions then do it again and again and again. If we want to improve, we must look to those who are better to train us.

In Jiu Jitsu I worked harder than anyone (being the only female and about half the size of most of my competitors). I struggled and worked and killed myself. Then, I finally gave in and got personal coaching. Just ONE session made all the difference. A pro taught me what ten months of killing myself never did and never would.

THIS was the first guy I got to fight upon earning my blue belt. Just….seriously.

Screen Shot 2016-08-08 at 8.37.14 AM
Jiu Jitsu. It is only awkward if you are not on the mat 🙂 .

But some good rounds of coaching taught me how to instantly position better, no matter how big or strong my opponent. Instead off getting crushed? This dude is moments from being flipped over and arm-barred.

Yes, the devil is in the details.

I have busted apart and repaired hundreds of plots. Virtually every one of my consulting sessions involves some poor writer who has spent a year or more trying to repair a plot that I can fix in less than three hours. Sometimes we need those outside experts. Getting help isn’t weak, it is smart! If you are in a mess, e-mail me ;).

No

No is one of the most powerful words in human language.

We must learn to say NO. We have to say it to ourselves. When I’d rather putter around the house and clean than edit or write my blog or research? NO.

I tell myself that I have a choice. No to now? Or no to later? I must give up what I want now for what I want most.

Learn to say no to toxic people. They will always have more drama they want us to fix. Learn to say no to the small leaks deflating your energy.

Quit expecting average people to help you accomplish the extraordinary.

Conversely? Don’t take NO.

Back when I was in sales, my managers could not get over how good I was at cold calling. Most salespeople loathe cold calling with the power of a thousand suns because it is 99% rejection. Why was I successful? Because when they said “No” I heard… “Not yet.”

A lot of you are attending conferences. You might be pitching agents or sending out query letters. Expect rejection. Rejection isn’t always bad. Rejection isn’t NO. It is “Not YET.”

Go back and fix what you can. Move forward. Invest in your skill and then ask again. And again. If they won’t budge and you’re ready? Go around. Find your YES.

My book Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World was with a major NYC agent for over a year. New York was unwilling to publish a book about social media even though my book didn’t rely on technology. I wrote it in such a way that it would always be relevant, and so didn’t have the typically short shelf life of this type of book.

I didn’t wait for them to change their minds, I published it anyway.

Aut inveniam viam aut faciam. We will find a way or we will make one. ~Hannibal

Dare

I hate those scams on late night TV that promise vast riches with no risk. That’s bunk. Our rewards exist in direct proportion to our risk. Risk big win big. Risk small and…yeah.

When we risk big, we can lose big. But we can also learn big. If we never fall from that kind of height, how can we learn to roll out of it? Dare daily. Dare to do something different, something meaningful. Nothing miraculous ever happened in the comfort zone.

When we dare to push ourselves outside of what we believe is possible, we discover talents we never knew existed. Yes, invest in your future but remember that today, THIS day, is the only one that matters. Because THIS day adds up. The only question is…

How are we going to use it?

Do you find yourself making excuses? Heck, I do. Do you find yourself spread too thinly “helping” others who are unwilling to help themselves? Are you afraid of failing? Do you feel selfish going after your dreams? Do you find yourself “waiting” on others? Does success seem unreachable? What dreams or goals have you attained that you never thought possible? What did you do? Sacrifice?

I love hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of AUGUST, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

Check out the other NEW classes below! 

All W.A.N.A. classes are on-line and all you need is an internet connection. Recordings are included in the class price.

Upcoming Classes

Blogging for Authors  (August 26th) will teach you all you need to know to start an author blog good for going the distance. Additionally I would also recommend the class offered earlier that same week (August 22nd) Branding for Authors to help you with the BIG picture. These classes will benefit you greatly because most blogs will fail because writers waste a lot of time with stuff that won’t work and never will and that wastes a lot of time.

I am here to help with that 😉 .

Hooking the Reader—Your First Five Pages August 12th

The first five pages are the most essential part of the novel, your single most powerful selling tool. It’s how you will hook agents, editors and readers. This class will cover the most common blunders and also teach you how to hook hard and hook early. This class is 90 minutes long, 60 minutes of instruction and 30 minutes for Q&A.

Your First Five Pages Gold Level

This includes the webinar and a detailed critique your first five pages.

Your First Five Pages Platinum Level

This includes the webinar and a detailed critique of your first twenty pages.

Bullies & Baddies—Understanding the Antagonist September 2nd–September 2nd

All fiction must have a core antagonist. The antagonist is the reason for the story problem, but the term “antagonist” can be highly confusing. Without a proper grasp of how to use antagonists, the plot can become a wandering nightmare for the author and the reader.

This class will help you understand how to create solid story problems (even those writing literary fiction) and then give you the skills to layer conflict internally and externally.

Bullies & Baddies—Understanding the Antagonist Gold

This is a personal workshop to make sure you have a clear story problem. And, if you don’t? I’ll help you create one and tell the story you want to tell. This is done by phone/virtual classroom and by appointment. Expect to block off at least a couple hours.

For those who need help building a platform and keeping it SIMPLE, pick up a copy of my latest social media/branding book Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World on AMAZON, iBooks, or Nook

 

Screen Shot 2013-01-21 at 9.47.56 AM
Better fix those towels before he sees…

Fear is always a part of life. We all feel it to one degree or another. Trying to live a life without fear is dangerous. Why? Because there are only two types of people who never feel fear—sociopaths and drugged people. Sociopaths lack empathy and normal human emotions. They don’t feel fear, but they don’t really feel love, joy, happiness or anything else. This lack of normal human emotion is often what gets them into trouble.

Another way to not feel fear is to drug it out of existence.

Of course, the fear is still there, it’s just numbed from the conscious mind. This is often why those who choose drugs, alcohol or medication frequently need more and more and more to keep themselves numbed. People like this aren’t sociopaths, so they do feel fear.

The problem is that, fear left unaddressed feeds and grows and gets bigger. This is why it takes more booze, more Paxil, more cocaine until the fear grows to a point that the person self-destructs.

Though I (hope) it’s obvious I’m not a sociopath, I have been person #2.

My father died on his birthday very unexpectedly and while on the phone with me. Unfortunately, at the time, I was engaged to an emotionally abusive sadist. He’d been cruel for a long time, but I was afraid. He always had a way of convincing me that everything was me, and after three years of constant psychological torment, I believed him.

If I could just do what he asked of me, everything would be fine. Really.

The night my father died, I begged for my mom to come from Florida where she was living. I’d lost my dad and I needed my mom. In all the chaos, I somehow misplaced the flight number. My then-fiance screamed at me for hours about how I was stupid. After the funeral, we was enraged because I’d chosen to sit next to my grandmother instead of him. In the weeks after my dad died, he would yell at me if I cried and tell me I needed to grow up and move on.

Ever seen Sleeping with the Enemy? Yeah, that was my fiance.

He had labels in the pantry for cans: soup, corn, green beans, etc. He once screamed at me because I hadn’t lined up all the cans in the pantry correctly, label forward in the “correct” row. All the rooms were to be vacuumed and then the carpet raked, with all the marks uniform and in the same direction.

Eventually, I found the courage to walk away. The abuse had gotten so bad I would have preferred death over another minute with this man.

Think this is the end? *laughs* It was only the beginning.

After years of  being told I was too dumb to live, I was a mess. I didn’t know whether to scratch my watch or wind my butt. I had terrible PTSD and was terrified of making even the smallest decisions, afraid I would be “wrong” and a “failure.” It didn’t help that this abusive person refused to leave my life. He injected himself to the point of being a stalker.

More fear.

I sought help, and the doctors gave me medications to “help with anxiety.” Yet, over time, I was just…flat. I no longer felt fear, but I didn’t really “feel” anything. I also noticed it took higher and higher dosages to keep the demons at bay, and, in keeping them at bay, it just seemed to give them more time to gather strength.

I found the courage to walk away from my abuser, and eventually I found the courage to walk away from medications. I woke up one day and realized that I couldn’t child-proof life. Life came with pain. Pain of failure, poor choices and even the pain of setting boundaries with lunatics. I kicked the ex out for good and started down the hardest road yet…feeling after so long NOT feeling.

In order to heal my damaged soul, I had to restore my damaged relationship with fear.

Fear can be bad. It can be F.E.A.R. which stands for False Evidence Appearing Real. That was the kind of fear that my ex had used to keep me captive. On some level, I must have believed he was right. Maybe I was stupid, damaged, hopeless, worthless.

But then there is the other fear. Fear is often a sign we are on the right track. We are getting out of our comfort zone and into a place where we will find the greatness inside of us. My ex constantly mocked the idea that I wanted to be a writer, but being a writer had been the only thing that had ever felt RIGHT. Ignoring the fear I had of failing, I stepped out in faith, trusting that if this was my true path then I could make it one step at a time.

And, by the grace of God, I have. Baby steps for the past twelve years.

Fear is powerful and it is our friend. Fear teaches us pain, but pain often prevents tragedy. When we feel the pain of being burned, we don’t rest our hands on hot stoves. Fear became a signal. It warned me early of people like my ex. It made me sensitive to red flags that the person was bad news.

Fear has also helped me stretch as an artist. If I am afraid to do something, I take time to reflect on that fear. Often that feeling of fear is a signal that I am in the right direction, that my creative boundaries are being pushed, that I’m growing.

Sometimes our only way out is through.

All writers will experience fear. It’s natural. The failure doesn’t come from not feeling fear, but rather we fail when we put FEAR in the driver’s seat in our lives. Fear is like a counselor that gives us opinions, but they are just that—opinions. We listen, take the opinions under advisement, then act according to our wills NOT FEAR’s will.

We do it afraid. Courage doesn’t come from never feeling fear. Courage is when we feel the fear and do it anyway. Write the book you’re scared write. Step out on social media where you fear to tread.

Let’s get something out of the way:

Understand you WILL fail.

Okay, now you’re free to create. You WILL fail. But also understand failure isn’t permanent, and it’s a necessary ingredient for success. The only people who never fail are the people who never attempt anything remarkable. We will be afraid our writing sucks, our stories are lame, our blogging is ridiculous and that we will never make it and our family will be right.

But what if they aren’t?

There will be pain. Pain of regret or pain from growth. We choose.

What are your thoughts? What do you fear? Have you overcome a fear that dominated your life and your choices? How did you do it? We’d love to hear your story.

I love hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of January, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.

I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novelor your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

And also, winners have a limited time to claim the prize, because what’s happening is there are actually quite a few people who never claim the critique, so I never know if the spam folder ate it or to look for it and then people miss out. I will also give my corporate e-mail to insure we connect and I will only have a week to return the 20 page edit.

At the end of January I will pick a winner for the monthly prize. Good luck!

I also hope you pick up copies of my best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer And both are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in the biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left to write great books.