Road Signs for Success – March 12, 2008

By Paula Lau

Even though we live in the city there are many greenbelts around our neighborhood where I have spotted wild animals that inhabit the area. Now admittedly, most were lying rather uncomfortably in the street. But I have seen some walking upright including possum, raccoon and even a coyote. As I was out walking a couple of weeks ago, I saw a tree that bore all the marks of the fine workmanship of a very dedicated beaver. The beaver had honed that tree to the point where you could put your whole hand right around what was remaining but the tree was still standing. The problem? The beaver failed to notice that high in the branches that particular tree was locked in an embrace with its neighbor! I’m sure the beaver expected he had completed his work and the tree would easily fall into the creek below.

It made me laugh at the plight of the beaver, but also made me think about the times when I have started a project with great enthusiasm. Sometimes, like the beaver, I’ve applied all of my talent, time and energy only to realize that I haven’t always taken into account everything and everybody that might influence the outcome one way or another.

So what do you do when you come to an impasse in an important project? Dependent on your personality type your reaction could be one of the following: For people who are not great on details anyway and organization is not their strong suit, failing to consider all the ins and outs of a project is pretty par for the course. Many times, they will take an impasse as an opportunity to start something new which can be extremely frustrating to those who have bought in or become involved in the project. Some people just give up completely saying to themselves that success was not meant for them. This can be hard for those in relation with them because typically a pessimistic attitude about the present and the future makes it difficult to hope and dream. For certain people with tendencies towards perfection, failure means giving up completely and never attempting anything outside their comfort zone again. For those who are used to success and don’t tolerate failure they can become angry and irritable taking out their frustrations and disappointment on those closest to them.

It’s important to evaluate how you handle success or failure, because in all personality types there is room for change and growth.  If you’re not the type to plan ahead and/or think of all the details, one of the best things you can do is collaborate with someone who is. Be open to listen to their ideas, be willing to slow down and make a plan. You’ll find success in the long run. If you’re a perfectionist, start telling yourself, “It’s okay to make mistakes.” Guess what? It really is okay to make mistakes. There is a tendency to believe that you should get it right the first time. But the reality for most of us is “practice makes perfect.” And, unfortunately, our mistakes are often when we have learned the most. For those who tend to be negative or pessimistic or are used to success at any cost, try to move toward the middle of the scale. You don’t have to become Pollyanna or lower your standards of excellence, but trying to bring more positives into the picture will give you a more hopeful future. People will want to spend time with you and be involved in future projects because they do recognize a positive and successful attitude when they see it.

Now, about that beaver — I walked by those two interlocked trees again and guess what? It seems he went to work on the other tree and both should soon be falling into the creek bed together. You can decide what kind of personality type he might have.

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