The Efficacy of Fail

I know, I probably should have titled it The Efficacy of Failure in order to be grammatically correct, but if you stick around, you’ll find out why I opted for The Efficacy of Fail.

I listened to a brilliant devotional this morning by Cassy Budd. She’s a professor of accounting at BYU who talked about the beneficial role of failure in our lives. She talked about how her personal trainer strategically designs her weightlifting routines so that whatever muscles they are working ultimately achieve failure. Her trainer has taught her that pushing her muscles to the point of failure is what generates the greatest increase in size and strength.

Cassy likened weight training and muscle failure to our own personal shortcomings, weaknesses and failures. She emphasized the beauty in repeated failures for it forces us to realize how inadequate we are on our own and how much we are in need of the Lord’s mercy, assistance, and grace.

Her speech made me think of the following scriptures:

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me (1 Phil 4:13).

. . . with God all things are possible (Matthew 19:26).

These thoughts were top of mind during my lesson today, especially as we discussed the Savior’s command to the members of His church to meet together oft to partake of the sacrament (D&C 20:75).

I asked the class why they thought the Lord would command His church to meet together oft to partake of the sacrament?  A wonderful discussion about our need to regularly repent and renew our baptismal covenants ensued.

We discussed the beauty of repentance and how it helps us transform and become better. I shared my insights from Professor Budd’s devotional address on Failing and Finishing and we discussed how failure, like repentance, is a beautiful necessity that facilitates learning and hastens success.

Don Paver–an elementary school teacher–shared an awesome insight. He said that in his classroom he writes the word FAIL across the top of his white board like this:

First

Attempt

In

Learning

I loved that so much! It perfectly captured what I was trying to convey about repentance being a beautiful gift and how failure enhances learning and accelerates success.

I shared how this principle is also true in my professional work. When it comes to pay per click advertising, and really every marketing endeavor, we promise our clients that we will fail fast– for the quickest route to success is for us to figure out what doesn’t work, kill it, and once we figure out what does work, feed it.

I also related the story of Thomas Edison who failed at the light bulb multiple times and simply said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

Anyhow, I guess what I hope everyone understood today is that failure is okay. So long as we keep on trying. In fact, Robert Louis Stevenson said it best when he penned, “Saints are sinners who keep on trying.” And Confucius claimed, “Our greatest glory lies not in never falling but in getting up every time we fall.”

Fortunately, for each of us, no matter how many times we fall, we have a God who has promised he will not fail us:

. . . as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee (Joshua 1:5).

May we all realize the beauty of repentance and the efficacy of fail–for failure and repentance helps us learn, progress and ultimately obtain eternal success.

Spring Cleaning Self

This post is inspired by Pastor Rick Warren’s Daily Hope. If you don’t already subscribe, you should do so now by clicking here.

Anyhow, I was looking around the house the other day and noticing how badly it needed some spring cleaning. The light fixtures have accumulated dust, the walls need wiping, the fridge could stand a thorough cleaning, the garage is getting crowded, and our office, well, let’s just say it’s embarrassing.

I always do a deep clean twice a year. It corresponds perfectly with our General Church Conferences. For two days we hunker down and listen to inspiring words from the leaders of our church, and as they talk, I clean.  I plan to do the same in a matter of weeks, but what about doing a personal spring clean? That’s exactly what Rick Warren suggested we do in our individual lives. In fact, he suggested we sit down and write a personal inventory of the areas we can improve.

I might as well do so now. I mean I’ve already been blogging about several things I want to do better, but now’s as good as ever for me to commit to the following:

  • Relationships and Reading People (see my post here about what this means)
  • Meditation (I’m committed to “Being Still as discussed here)
  • Being Present (I wrote more about what this means here)
  • Physical Care (Eat Enough, Exercise Wisely and Sleep Sufficiently)
  • Non-Resistance, Non-Judgement, Non-Permanence (blog post forthcoming about what I’ve learned in this regard)
  • Application of Truth (will write more about this later)
  • Further Education of My Conscience (acquiring and applying additional light–will write more about this later as well)

I’m sure there is more I can come up with, but this is sufficient to keep me busy till our October General Conference. I will give a full accounting then of my efforts, but now I will outline my action plan for achieving the aforementioned:

Relationships and Reading People: I will arrive to church 15 minutes early so I can greet newcomers and welcome them. I will also continue my Sunday routine of visiting new people in the neighborhood and the ward.

Meditation: I just bought three books on how to meditate. I study my scriptures every morning and I think and blog, but I’m interested in learning more about meditation. I’m going to read 2 of the books on mediation while traveling through China this week and find out whether or not I’m already meditating and how I can improve.

Being Present: I’m focusing daily on taking pleasure in whatever I’m doing in the moment. I don’t want to worry about the future or dwell on the past. I want to enjoy the precious, pristine present for the gift that it is. I think Meditation will help with this goal as will my conscience awareness that this is something worth striving for moment to moment. Awareness–as always–is key.

Physical Care: I need to eat at least 2,000 calories per day. Exercise Monday-Saturday and walk on Sunday. I want to sleep a minimum of 6 hours per night. I already eat very healthy so just want to make sure I’m eating sufficient to maintain my weight. I can’t lose any additional weight. 🙂

Non-Resistance, Non-Judgement, and Non-Permanence: I wrote about the importance of replacing versus resistance here, and I feel like I covered the importance of not judging a little bit in my recent Namaste blog post here, but I haven’t written much yet about Non-Permanence. I want to always remember that that which we resist persists, and when we judge others we have no time to love them, and everything will pass (both the good and the bad). When I learn to meditate, I plan to incorporate these concepts into my chanting mantras. Until then, I’ll simply recite these ideas each morning after my scripture study and think upon them as I spiritually create my day.

Application of Truth: This is hard. I am always learning and while I am pretty good at recording what I learn, I feel that my implementation is lacking. Seems like there is much crossover in what I study so I simply need to apply any new truths I learn, and make sure I’m already living up to the light I’ve already received. What I really need to do better at is daily accountability–which segues beautifully into my final objective:

Further Education of My Conscience: Each night I would like to record how well I lived up to my current knowledge and light. I will acknowledge my failings before myself and my maker, determine how I could have handled the situation better, and then resolve to do so next time.

Wow! I’m feeling much cleaner and lighter already. Are you now ready for spring cleaning self?

The Only True and Living Church

This week I’m supposed to teach lesson #9 from the Doctrine and Covenants manual. It’s all about the restoration and organization of the church in these latter days, and is entitled, The Only True and Living Church.

Honestly, I’m having a hard time getting jazzed about teaching this lesson. Mainly because I am not a fan of the whole, “Our church is true and yours is not.” I personally feel all religions are beautiful. If your religion leads you to love and serve your fellowman, inspires morality, and causes you to seek after good, then it’s true enough and you should continue to honor it.

So how am I going to teach this lesson? Well, I guess I will focus on what I can get jazzed about. I find it really cool to contemplate the growth of the Mormon religion. What began with 6 members meeting together in a 20×30 foot log cabin in Fayette, New York, on April 6, 1830, has grown to over 15 million members in only 187 years. That’s pretty amazing to me.

What’s even more remarkable, IMO, is all the good The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints accomplishes. We currently have over 76,000 missionaries serving worldwide. We have solid programs for the youth. We have members who donate their time, money and talents to serve each other and the larger community. We support and pray for our leaders, and work to establish world peace. How can any church or religion seeking to do the same not be acceptable and loved by God?

I can also attest that being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has blessed my life, my children, and my entire extended family. I love the people I worship and serve with, and I love continually seeking after everything virtuous, lovely, and praiseworthy. I love the teachings of Jesus, who our Church worships, and I love listening to inspired men and women who have been ordained of God counsel us in wisdom’s path.

So while I’m still not jazzed about the title of my upcoming lesson, and the possibility of having to discuss which church is true and which is not, I can say I am jazzed to talk about all the good my church has done and continues to do for me, my family and the larger community. God bless all those who labor in love for righteous causes. For there ain’t nothin’ more true than that!

Representation

This week’s lesson in gospel doctrine is about the establishment of, and membership in, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I shared these verses with my children last night:

 68 The duty of the members after they are received by baptism—The elders or priests are to have a sufficient time to expound all things concerning the church of Christ to their understanding, previous to their partaking of the sacrament and being confirmed by the laying on of the hands of the elders, so that all things may be done in order.

 69 And the members shall manifest before the church, and also before the elders, by a godly walk and conversation, that they are worthy of it, that there may be works and faith agreeable to the holy scriptures—walking in holiness before the Lord.

I asked the children what we needed to be worthy of? I believe “it” refers to being confirmed a member of the church and renewing those baptismal covenants each Sunday through partaking of the sacrament.

The Lord is serious about having those who bear His name represent him well. I told my children that as the owner and CEO of KickFire Marketing I know a bit of how the Lord must feel. I count on my employees to represent our company well. Their actions are a reflection of me. If they don’t do their job with integrity and quality, it makes me look bad. And I can’t have people who don’t represent me well, working for me.

We discussed the importance of walking in all holiness before the Lord and making sure we always act in a manner that is pleasing unto Him so that He is proud to have us bear His name.

 77 O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this bread to the souls of all those who partake of it, that they may eat in remembrance of the body of thy Son, and witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son, and always remember him and keep his commandments which he has given them; that they may always have his Spirit to be with them. Amen.

When we represent Him well, He rewards us with His Spirit. When we do not represent Him well, we will lose the privilege of bearing His name as these verses indicate:

 80 Any member of the church of Christ transgressing, or being overtaken in a fault, shall be dealt with as the scriptures direct.

 83 And also, if any have been expelled from the church, so that their names may be blotted out of the general church record of names.

Being a member of His church is a privilege. May we strive to always represent Him well.

Resist vs. Replace | Puppy Parables

Here’s another puppy parable for all you animal lovers. I’m sure you’ve heard the truism “That which we resist, persists.” Not sure who originally said it and don’t care to google it because I’ve heard it expressed in various ways so that is how I know it is a true principle.

Anyhow, this morning my puppy was chewing on the edge of my leather sofa and I kept grabbing his mouth and telling him, “No,” but the minute I removed my hand or diverted my attention, he went right back to chewing on the sofa. After about 5 times of me telling him no and trying to resist his efforts to chew up my chair, I remembered the maxim, “That which we resist, persists!”

That statement reminded me of a recent devotional one of my favorite spiritual gurus gave. Pastor Rick Warren talked about temptation and how hard and ineffective it is to resist temptation. He instead taught the powerful principle of “replacing” instead of “resisting.” In application, it looks like this: Say you are trying to break your smoking addiction. Every time you are tempted to smoke you resist the temptation. White knuckling and willpower will only get you so far for so long before you cave because let’s face it, white knuckling it is extremely exhausting. Eventually you will get tired of resisting the incessant waves of temptation and you’ll give in.

However, if you want to kick a bad habit, rather than resist the temptation (in this example the urge to smoke), you can distract yourself from the temptation or urge by replacing resistance with a positive behavior such as going for a walk, chewing a piece of gum, calling a friend, etc. Replacement works far better than resistance for “that which we resist, persists.” On the other hand, that which we replace, fades away.

So instead of resisting Thor’s attempts to chew up the chair, I simply picked up his bone and put it in his mouth. Sure enough, he went to town chewing up his rawhide bone and I was able to go back to reading my book, uninterrupted by the need to resist his bad behavior.

So the next time you find yourself struggling with a problem, look at the issue and see if their is something you are resisting that simply needs replacing. Remind yourself of the truism “that which we resist, persists,” and go to work finding a replacement instead. And for more puppy parables, click here, and here.

Namaste

So as discussed previously in my post Reading People, I decided to ask my massage therapist about some of her life mantras. She replied, “Namaste.”

I’ve heard that phrase in yoga, but had no idea what it meant. I thought it had something to do with sealing your practice, but figured this must not be what made it a life mantra for someone else.  So I asked, “What does Namaste even mean?” And that is when she shared this with me:

Typically “Namaste” is used as a greeting. The person saying “Namaste” places their open palms together in front of their heart as they bow to the other person.

I asked Julia why this phrase meant so much to her, and she taught me about what she learned in massage therapy school. As students they were instructed not to judge others by their outward appearance. They were taught, instead, the importance of focusing on their client’s inner being and innate goodness. They learned about the power of touch and how judging others would limit their ability to connect with and facilitate healing in those they sought to serve.

To her, Namaste serves as a powerful reminder of her innate goodness, the innate beauty and goodness of others, and the importance of loving, not judging others. Our conversation reminded me of one of my favorite Mother Teresa truisms:

If you judge people, you have no time to love them.

I also firmly believe that when we judge others we limit our ability to learn from them. This is a tragedy for there is so much wisdom to be gleaned from the life experiences of others (as discussed in Reading People). We cannot afford to close off connection through casting judgement. We must love.

For love truly is the universal solvent. It connects all. It heals all. It empowers all. For Charity never faileth (Moroni 7:46 and 1 Cor. 13:8).

Namaste.

The Passing of a Friend

Today I found out that a dear friend passed away. I felt impressed to go visit this special friend prior to leaving for our trip. I had heard her health was declining so I tried to stop in the Sunday night before our departure. She was in the middle of a family gathering and I didn’t want to intrude, so I didn’t knock on her door. I decided I would try another time.  I’m so grateful I returned the following night (Monday). I brought my children with me and we made it a family home evening visit. A routine we have made somewhat a tradition the past year.

We talked about the gospel, told jokes and shared our love. It was another lovely evening spent together in her home. We said a closing prayer and we were on our way. Yes, it was evident her health was deteriorating, but I did not expect to have her pass away while we were on our cruise.

Again, I am grateful I listened to my inner voice and took the children over for a visit. It is even more wonderful now to think of those precious moments we spent together before her final departure. Thinking of her in Heaven with her sweet husband Max brings joy to my heart. He passed away last year and I have no doubt their reunion was epic!

I miss Max. And now I’m going to miss Pat. But what really makes me sad is thinking about how much I’m going to miss Heather. Heather Hirschi is Pat’s grand daughter. She came to take care of Pat after Max’s passing. She’s been selflessly meeting her needs ever since. I’m guessing she won’t be staying her much longer as this is not her home and she will be off to her next adventure. I feel blessed for the time we have had together and when it comes time to say goodbye, I will wish her well. However, I intend to stay in touch so this is not a final farewell. 🙂

Grande Eres Tu

Today we were able to attend church in Miami. It was a Spanish ward that began at 10 am and several occurrences impressed me.

First, an older gentleman walked through the chapel and shook every hand. Even though he spoke no English, he smiled and welcomed us personally to the ward.  This small, simple gesture warmed my heart and did indeed make us feel welcome.

I felt it would be a cool thing for me to do in my own ward. Of course this would necessitate me getting to church earlier. Arriving earlier to church would impinge on some of my sacred personal Sabbath study time, but if I think of what I could glean from interacting with my fellow brothers and sisters, then surely the sacrifice would be worth it. In fact, learning from people is something I want to focus on as much as I focus on learning from books–I write more about it in this post Reading People.

Second, the sacrament bread today was unusually large. Seriously, the pieces were chunks of bread as big as one quarter of the slice. For some reason these larger than usual pieces of bread made a striking visual impact. The big, torn chunks of bread brought to mind the words from the hymn While of These Emblems We Partake:

Torn, broken, bruised for us, on Calvary.

I felt grateful for the Lord’s willing sacrifice, and was reminded of his great suffering, and his great love for me, and all mankind.

Finally, I was touched by our rest hymn “How Great Thou Art.” In Spanish, however,  it is titled, “Grande Eres Tu.” I love how seeing or saying something in a different language adds greater meaning. Like the Spanish verbs conocer and saber that I wrote about in To Know God.

When I see the Spanish phrase Grande Eres Tu, my mind says, “Great Are You!” The word grande also makes me thing of big, large and awesome. So it was fun to think of my great, awesome God who has given me so much and blesses me and my family daily. I was overwhelmed with love and gratitude for His beneficence as we sang praises to His name.

We are now at the airport and getting ready to fly home. It has been a wonderful trip and I’m excited to return to our house and awesome, amazing everyday life. God, great are you!

Loving Gandhi

I’m LOVING Gandhi’s autobiography. I feel such a kinship with him. I know why. Gandhi is a seeker of truth. Granted, I’m not yet finished with his book, and he did pen it at the age of 56 and then lived another 23 years of which I will need to study before I endorse him completely as a Saint, but thus far, his actions and intentions have won my heart.

But alas, I digress, back to what causes my affinity for Gandhi. First, and foremost, Gandhi was a truth seeker and it is this hunger for truth that I greatly identify with. I think I have always gravitated toward truth subconsciously, but for the first time in my life I have a conscious, persistent yearning for discovering truth. I have a consuming desire to know all things for myself–and to acquaint myself personally and intimately with those beings who are the source of all truth. And I fully believe this is possible. Why shant I know all things? Especially if I’m willing to work and wait, and do my best and trust God to do the rest (see my post concerning this matter here).

I do not believe that faith means some things we just cannot come to know. When God says that He will reveal His mysteries to those who diligently seek, I take him at his word.

Second, I’m loving Gandhi’s belief in the power of love. Several times in his book he expresses his firm conviction that love can overcome all evil, and that love is the universal truth that unites all of creation. I believe this with all my heart. I also believe in the inherent goodness of man. I believe that love is what calls forth man’s better nature. I am not perfect at love, but it is growing stronger in me daily. I thank God for this awareness and gift for it is only through my life experiences that I am learning to judge less and love more. Mortality is making me more fit to one day rule a kingdom in mercy, justice, love, truth, and wisdom.

Working and Waiting

I have a new life mantra about working and waiting:

Do your very best and trust God to do the rest!

I’m not just throwing out a clever witticism here, this is something I have come to know from personal experience.

For most of my life, my modus operandi has been to bust my buns to accomplish whatever I set my mind to.  In fact, my father and others will tell you that I achieve anything I set my mind to.”

It’s true, I’m tenacious and stubbornly persistent. But tenacity and perseverance can be extremely exhausting.  I have learned over the years that it is far better to pray down divine assistance than to work like a madman and worry when things aren’t going your way.

My God has come to my aid on multiple occasions–never on my time table, but always on His. This has taught me the importance of working and waiting–doing my best while trusting God to do the rest.

I just want to share an example that occurred this week. I have been struggling for the past month to get our new meal replacement weight loss shake Svelo approved to sell on Amazon. I have been rejected 5 times with a final notice saying it would not be happening. Well, I rarely take no for an answer, plus I know that with God all things are possible, so I continued to work at getting us approved. I submitted letters to supervisors, enlisted help from co-workers and friends at Amazon, and even emailed Jeff Bezos himself. Basically, I did everything in my power that I could think of doing and all the while I prayed and trusted in God to help it all work out. I knew it would. How did I know? From experience. From years of things not going my way and me not giving up and seeking for his help and it always coming in some way or another.

This doesn’t mean I always get what I want, because sometimes I get something even better. I have learned that it is a divine law of the universe that when we work and wait and do our best and let God do the rest, amazing things happen. So I’m not sure what you are struggling with right now, but I do know that if you will do everything you can think to do, pray for inspiration on what more you can do, and then if you will let God do His part, it will all work out marvelously well.

In fact, you can even go on vacation and trust Him to take care of the details while you are away. That is what I did. In fact, I was here in the Caribbean this week when I received notice that Svelo had been approved. It made my day as I smiled and glanced with gratitude toward Heaven thanking my Lord and God. I was like, “Dude, you rock and I love and appreciate all you do for me SO much!” God is good. God is great! Remember always to work and wait and do your best and trust God to do the rest!