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Success from Failure By Margo Chevers

Those of you who know me, know that I am always looking for ways to improve and grow as an individual. This past weekend, I attended a one-hour seminar that was put on by Dennis McCurdy of Sturbridge, MA. It was to give people a taste for his eight-week personal development program.

He talked about the usual goal setting, creating a vision, getting rid of our negative self-talk and overcoming our fears. I conduct those seminars myself, yet, I learned more than I expected.

Dennis took it one step further than I’d been in the past. He had us attempt to break a one-inch thick board with our bare hands. I wanted to experience as much as possible, so I volunteered to be the first to try. I mentally prepared myself, saw in my mind my hand going through the board, I raised my hand and brought it down hard. The board snapped as though it were a toothpick. I was amazed at how easy it was to do something I thought would be difficult.

Then, he took an arrow and told us how we could break it with our necks. He showed how to place the feather end against the wall and put the tip on the soft part of our throat. We were to lean into it until it snapped. He demonstrated and sure enough the arrow snapped.

When he asked for volunteers, I was NOT the first to raise my hand. This was raising the stakes. If I broke my hand, that was one thing, but if I pierced my throat with an arrow, that could be fatal.

I watched as another participant snapped the arrow in two. I thought, well I might as well try. I got up, set the arrow against the wall, strategically placed the tip against my throat and started to lean into it. I leaned with force and as the other members of the class were telling me it was beginning to bend, I felt a sensation that the arrow was going to crush my larynx.

I am a speaker and a trainer. Without my voice, I wouldn’t be able to work. I immediately backed off from the arrow. The class as well as Dennis encouraged me to try again. They assured me that I had almost succeeded. So I tried again. As I leaned into the arrow, again the class gave me the feedback that they could see the arrow bending. I leaned harder and again I felt the sensation of crushing my larynx. I backed off. Although they encouraged me to try again, I couldn’t bring myself to do so.

I sat down, convinced I had saved myself from losing my voice. As I processed the experience, I realized that I have experienced this sensation many times. I convince myself that something disastrous will happen if I go ahead and act on an idea I have. I come up with many good reasons why it won’t work. Each one based on what I consider fact.

Just like the arrow experience, I feel we many times pull back from success because of the “concrete evidence” we manufacture in our minds.

I believe I learned as much from my failure to break the arrow, perhaps even more, than if I had been successful in my attempt.

The lesson here is, that we can learn more from our mistakes and failures than we can from our successes.

Thank you Dennis for giving me this life lesson.

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