Failure has a bad rap. I have written about the power of words: how our perception of a word’s definition can actually change our behaviours and attitudes. See, people don’t want to fail. We want to win. So when we “Try” and don’t “Succeed”, we’ve “Failed.” We now have proof that we’re “bad” at something. If I got a low mark on a math test, it means I’m bad at math. Seems logical… except what if I just had a headache that day? What if I fell asleep while the teacher was explaining this unit? Maybe I’m actually great at math, just need a little more help on this unit, and I’ll be back on track. Remember, you are what you think you are. So if I take this “Failure” as proof I’m bad at math, guess what? Now I’m bad at math. Why am I even trying?
Good question. Why ARE you trying? What brought you here in the first place? I have tried on many occasions to skate. I have never been very good at it, and sure that attitude is part of the reason, and if I really put my mind to it I would get way better. But I don’t want to. I am perfectly happy being a mediocre skater. Someone wants to go skating, fine sure, I’ll come, but I’ll complain, and hold the glass, and try to get your attention when I’m doing something as simple as skating around the ice without falling on my ass.
We already know it takes many failures and corrections to do something right. What we spend our time failing at over and over and over makes us who we are. We are our Passions.
There is a cultural obsession with Passion. “You’re so passionate!” “Find your passion!” “I’m not really passionate about it….” For some, passion is something that happens to other people. “I’m just not a passionate person.” Then that person gets started on about Battlestar Galactica or something, and they won’t shut up about it. They watched every episode, twice, even the bad ones. They watched all the movies, read extended universe books, bought toys, went to cons, have selfies with half the cast…. It took time, dedication, and perseverance, to get to this point. It took Passion. Their passion for that franchise is part of their soul.
Passion is persistence. Passion is trying, “failing”, registering it, understanding why, and trying again, forever. Because there is no “success.” Or at least, its definition in this context is toxic.
James Altucher, who I discovered at the start of this week and is already one of my favourite people, says you can only really have success on a day-to-day basis. “Is today successful?” And you can measure that success however you want. I think it’s more like a feeling than anything. Do I feel good? Am I healthy? Did I get something done today, even a little something (relaxing is doing something productive for me, and I do it so rarely…)? Success is not “I have a bajillion dollars now,” or “I have a girlfriend,” or “I have a job.” It’s, “Today was a good day.” But enough about success. Let’s talk about coffee!
I love coffee. As I wrote this (the first time) I was at a restaurant which drew me in because it was called “Chillax”, drinking my 4th coffee. My stomach was not happy about it. The only reason I drank it was that they had a “Coffee Lab” using Hario’s Coffee Syphon. It looks like this:
It’s an incredible machine, and makes some of the best coffee imaginable, but it is incredibly complex and has a lot of margin for error. There are just so many variables! How hot is the water before it goes into the bottom chamber? What kind of burner am I using? How hot is the flame? When do I put the top chamber in? When do I plug the top chamber? How much coffee do I use? What kind, grind, roast? When did I grind it? When do I put it in? Once the water climbs up the tube into the top chamber with the coffee: how often and how do I stir and with what? How long do I leave it in?
I think I got most of them. So you can see it’s not a coffee machine for the mere dabbler. I have tried many times and produced a wide breadth of results. I almost always get coffee, but it’s not always good. But it’s getting better. And more consistent. And now I’ve watched a pro do it. For me it was worth it to have opportunity to watch that lady do her chemistry, even if it ended up costing me $11 in coffee and food that I didn’t need or even want. Because now (in about 10 minutes) when I make my coffee, it will be closer to “perfect”.
Maxwell Maltz, infinite font of wisdom, has this to say about the Self:
“No one ever succeeds during a lifetime in fully expressing or bringing into actuality all the potentialities of the Real Self. In our Actual, expressed Self, we never exhaust all the possibilities and powers of the Real Self. We can always learn more, perform better, behave better. The Actual Self is necessarily imperfect. Throughout life it is always moving toward an ideal goal, but never arriving. The Actual Self is not a static but a dynamic thing. It is never completed and final, but always in a state of growth.”
Sing it, sister. When we get down on ourselves for “Failing” or not “Being Perfect”, we just have to remember that no one in the history of all mankind has ever achieved that. Every Mozart, Kubrick, and Tesla also “Failed” to achieve their Real Selves. We reach to be the perfect Self we can, just as every piece of music is an attempt to achieve perfection in music. That struggle, that drive to be perfect, is what makes life so hard; the striving itself is what makes life beautiful.
I am going to keep making coffee with this machine because it is intensely satisfying. And when I make it now it will be way better than the coffee I had at Chillax because the beans I’m using kick ass. It won’t be the best coffee in the world. And that’s a good thing. Because if it were, the world would get boring real fast….