Wednesday, May 28, 2008


Yes, there it is. The word we never say. Like ‘decrease’ it is not supposed to happen, at least not to us. Whereas ‘decrease’ happens slowly, ‘failure’ takes no prisoners. It is the ultimate decrease. And we are left standing around with our pride, self-esteem, hopes and plans scattered about our feet in pieces. When this happened to me, it had the effect of kindling an interest in philosophy, especially oriental, as I cast about me for answers. So, in the end, failure led me to discover treasures of knowledge and understanding about the world and about myself. Treasures that I would perhaps never have known otherwise. Isn’t that always the way?
One of the books that helped me enormously through those difficult times is ‘How would Confucius ask for a raise?’ by Carol Osborne. Don’t be fooled by the title, this is a book to take very seriously. It is based on the philosophy of the I Ching and raises the big questions of ethics, inner excellence, risk and leadership not only at work but in life. The I Ching, it so happens, addresses these questions admirably and Carol Osborne sets out the principles in a smooth, interconnected and often poetic fashion.

The I Ching teaches us that difficulties throw a man back upon himself. The inferior man bewails his fate, thrashing about in self-pity and despair. The superior man views the obstruction as an occasion for inner enrichment.
Can you be this generous with yourself? This invocation is rich soil in which to plant the seed of recovery.

Invocation for one who has failed

I am where I am and it’s all right.
The goal I sought represents a commitment to a process, including success and failure along the way.
When I fail, I replace judgement with observation.
I trust myself to correct what I can. Forgive myself for what I can’t.

My worthiness does not depend on my achievements or the things that happen to me.
My worthiness is not up for question.
Knowing there is more I want for myself does not invalidate what I already have.

Regardless of how much at a standstill I feel myself to be right now, the currents of my destiny continue to work on my behalf, moving me forward to an even greater future than I have yet envisioned.

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Discover The Tale of Genji, the 11th Century classic of Japan (click image)

Discover The Tale of Genji, the 11th Century classic of Japan (click image)
Kiyomizudera Temple has a large veranda looking out over Kyoto and beyond