Posted by: itsleisa | 01/03/2010

Learning from failure – three new lessons to live in 2010

Yesterday, I did some existential house-cleaning, and shed the weight of the elephant of the undone by telling the truth about what I didn’t accomplish, and by finally matching my words to my action (or inaction as the case may be).

Today I want to share a few of the lessons I’ve learned by looking at the process of NOT reaching the fat-burning goal that I had set in October for January 5th.

“Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement.” ~ C.S. Lewis

The first and main thing I realized is this: I stopped taking my own (and my coaches) advice in three specific areas. Sweet irony, I had even prescribed each of these three points to myself and others in my mini-ebook ‘Leisa’s Losing Ways’ less than four months ago. (If you’d like a free copy, just leave me a comment with your email address.)

The advice: Commitment comes first

Really. There is absolutely NO point in starting something as mentally challenging as weight-loss if you have not made a 100% commitment that it is going to happen no matter what, and that no one or nothing is going to stand in your way. That is the kind of commitment that I gave when I started this journey. In fact, my motto was/is

“I am now willing to do anything and everything, no matter what, whatever it takes.”

That’s what fueled my success early on. But once I reached that first big milestone (losing 15 extra lbs that I’d been carrying for nearly 10 years), I found it hard or nearly impossible to recreate that level of commitment for the next phase.

Oh, I ‘tried’ and then I ‘tried’ some more. And then I tried again and again, each time feeling a little more guilty, ashamed and embarrassed about how my last ‘try’ hadn’t worked. Ultimately futile, since we all know, and as Yoda said so brilliantly,  ” Try not. Do… or do not. There is no try.”

New lesson number one

Try not. At the first sign of trying, the prescription is NOT more or better trying. Trying is the ultimate waste of time and creative energy. Instead, Stop. Declare failure (not the permanent, giving up kind of failure, but the admitting that what you are doing is not working kind of failure), and then do not start again until you can look yourself in the eye and honestly say you are ready to “do.” When you are that straight about it, you don’t waste the energy of trying, and you are likely to get back to “do” a lot faster.

The advice: Keep your brain in the game

This one is also known as feed your mind first. Yes, what you eat determines how your body will function and whether you will be burning or storing fat. But, it is what you feed your mind that determines what you will feed your body. And in order to keep your mind in tip-top condition, it is imperative to daily clear out any gunk (negative thoughts, feelings and beliefs that have crept in), and feed it good diet of gratitude, goals and positive vision.

I forgot this. Instead, once I had a new level of success with finding and eating my new favorite foods (success which was fueled and supported by daily meditation, affirmations, goals and prayer), I thought “Oh wow – finally, I’ve got this whole eating thing figured out! Yipee!”  Then that thought/belief made it easy to start skipping my daily routine brain maintenance and feeding. Bad move.

New lesson number two

Keep doing what works. Period. No matter what the “you’ve got this handled, buddy” thoughts may tell you. This is one I get to learn over and over. It’s human nature, isn’t it? We put in new habits and practices to create something new, and then once those things start to work, we get cocky and start to think we’ve got it handled, so now we can ‘slack off’ a little. In other words, we stop doing what works. When you stop doing what works, what was working stops working. I am going to find as many ways of saying this as I can, so that I can remember it and live it quicker next time it comes up.

The advice: Timing is everything

It’s just plain silly to set yourself up for failure. Like planning to lose a bunch of weight between Thanksgiving and New Years, especially with a big vacation thrown in. I know this. And I know me. I’m not saying it can’t be done. I’m just saying that no matter how much I might want to be, I am not a “there is nothing more important than my weight-loss goal while I am on vacation and during the holidays” kind of person.  And yet this is just what I did. I said I was going to lose 15 lbs during November and December, with a once-in-a-lifetime vacation thrown in for good measure. I think the root of problem here is the same as in number two; I started to have some success and before you know it, I’m thinking “Ya baby, you can do anything. Easy.” Riiiiiiiight.

New lesson number three

Know thyself, and thy pitfalls, and do not fool thyself that thou are somehow now immune to the temptations that have always plagued thee. Translated: Even with success, especially with success, stay humble. Humility allows for seeing and self-correcting those potential pitfalls, like over-confidence, way quicker.

A lot of words, I know. But I think I needed to say all that to be able to remember this:

  1. Try not. Do or don’t do. And if you can’t honesty do, don’t waste time/energy trying. Come back when you can do.
  2. Keep doing what works. If you start thinking “I’ve got this handled” that’s a big red flag to keep doing what got you to stuff working.
  3. Know thyself and stay humble. Overconfidence is a precursor to cutting corners, and cutting corners is a precursor to failure.

With these lessons firmly under my belt and foremost in my mind, now my next step is to get 100% clear, and 100% committed to the next phase of “do.” I’m working on it. I’ll keep you posted.

What about you? What lessons have you learned (old or new) that you plan to live in 2010?

If you enjoyed this post, please share (Facebook, Twitter, ect) and/or comment, won’t you?



  1. Yay Leisa! You go girl! I can see it’s all sinking in now! Your brain is becoming re-wired beautifully. Keep it up! This is great stuff, and will help so many other people.

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