Monthly Archives: September 2018

Monday Motivator: Don’t Waste A Failure

(The Jolly Librarian has been sick. So the post is a little late this week!)

Today’s title comes from Nick Saban, the football coach of The University of Alabama, for those of you who do not bleed crimson. He said this after a loss. (Apparently, besides winning, one requirement for a coach is to come up with quick, snappy sayings that can be used in various situations.)

Still, I like this saying and not just because I’m a Bama alum. It’s a given that we’re all going to fail at times. So the question is not if, but how are we going to respond when we do fail?

Are we going to give up?

Are we going to find someone to blame?

Are we going to keep on doing the same thing, just maybe a little harder?

Are we going to whine and complain? (My personal favorite.)

Are we going to feel sorry for ourselves while eating a pint of ice cream?       (Another personal favorite.)

If we’re honest, we all probably remember times when we’ve done one or all of the above.

But really, that is wasting a failure. To be able to move off the failure road, we have to spend some time thinking about it. We have to realize what went wrong. We have to admit our own part. And we have to come up with a plan that to avoid those pitfalls the next time.

Let’s face it. Football is not life (except in some parts of Alabama). It’s easy to see when winning and losing takes place. The ball going across the goal line is a win. The ball falling out of your hands and into those of the other team is a failure. In real life, the steps to both success and failure may not be so clear.

Still, I think Saban is onto something. We can wallow in our failures. Or we can analyze them and turn them into something else. And we get to choose every time which path we’ll take.


Monday Motivator: Make the Goal Worthy

In her book, The Husband Hunters: American Heiresses Who Married into the British Aristocracy, Anne de Courcy tells the stories of the crazy-rich families in Gilded Age America. While most people might think that these young women wanted to become duchesses, de Courcy argues that it was often the mothers who orchestrated the marriages.

Many of these women were smart, probably as smart as their husbands. But they lived in a time where their ambitions were severely curtailed. So they put all their energy into society. They fought to outdo each other with their glamorous homes and ritzy parties. They worked hard, especially those whose husbands might have made their fortunes in blue-collar fields, to be invited to the right houses and parties. And one way to ensure success was to have a daughter marry a European earl or duke.

And some of these women were quite ruthless. One broke up a relationship between her son and a young woman (Edith Jones whom we know as Edith Wharton). Later when that son died, she took the unusual step of ordering an autopsy. She didn’t want people to think her son had succumbed to a broken heart due to her actions. Another virtually locked her daughter up in their summer home until the younger woman agreed to her mother’s marriage plans for her.

While, to be honest, after the fourth or fifth such tale, I became a little bored with the stories. But after I’d finished, I realized there was a great lesson to be learned here.

All of these women had tremendous drive, and if they lived today, they probably would be leaders in their field. They certainly knew how to set a goal and achieve it. But were these goals worthy?

This is something we need to ask ourselves on a regular basis. The news is filled with people who are willing to break rules to get what they want. There are those who have put family and friends aside as they climb the corporate ladder. And I admit that I sometimes listen to public officials make a statement and wonder how they go home and face their children at night.

It’s not enough to have a big goal. That goal needs to be worthy of our intellect. It should not require us to compromise our morals and ethics. And it should, in a way large or small, make the world a bit better for those around us.


Monday Motivator: Don’t Depend on Willpower

Radio personality Bobby Bones avoids all alcohol and drugs. Not because he has any sort of moral objections to them. But he comes from a family with a variety of addiction problems, and he made a decision that the best path for his life would be to simply not engage in those behaviors and tempt fate.

The older I get, the more I think such an approach may be a wise one. It seems to me that many of my problems have resulted from not accepting my own weaknesses and thinking I can manage them.

For example, I have a problem getting up in the mornings. I have been known to sleep through multiple alarms, even the kinds that were especially invented for people who have a hard time getting up. One really bad morning, in the spring, I ignored my alarm as usual. Unfortunately, for my neighbors, it was a fresh spring morning, and I had kept my window open overnight. I set my alarm in that window. The idea was that I would have to walk across the room and turn it off and would be motivated to stay up. The result was that my neighbors were serenaded with Barry Manilow’s “Daybreak” for two hours as they left for work.

For years, I tried to control this weakness. In college, I would tell myself that I could go to bed and get up early the next morning and finish that paper or project. Spoiler alert: I never did.  I was always rushing, always anxious. Finally, I learned to admit that this weakness was always going to be with me and stop pretending I could control it. So now I never pretend that I will get up early to finish a project. I try to get things done before it’s time for bed. But if not, I stay up late to finish.

Some people have the same approach to certain foods. Like me, they know they are not going to eat just one Yasso yogurt bar. Unlike me, they don’t pretend they are; instead, they just don’t buy them.

Studies have shown that our willpower is limited and gets used up as the day goes on. Good intentions won’t help us when that willpower muscle is exhausted and screams in pain.

So if you know you can’t get up early in the morning, finish the report at night. If you know you’re going to check your phone every three minutes, leave it in the other room while you study. And if a quart of ice cream is a single serving carton for you, don’t buy it (if you want to lose weight.)

I am a huge fan of willpower and the ability to break habits. But I’m also a realist. And sometimes the way to success is a workaround.