Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
August 29, 2011 3:47 PM

Failing Miserably

It's easy to get down. It happens to the best of us. I'm not even a "best of us" and it happens to me all of the time.

Currently, I'm failing miserably at:

  • Reading a book every week. I'm doing my best to keep pace, but it's late August and I should be at 32 books read and I'm only at 26 and struggling.
  • Losing ten more pounds. I'm exercising a few times a week and trying to avoid things like sugar, white bread, fried foods and other fatty foods, but I go through phases and I often cave in to temptation (which immediately leads to self-loathing and regret).
  • Finishing my book proposal. The book proposal for the follow-up to Six Pixels of Separation was due this past holiday season. I've got the book title, sub-title, chapter concepts and both my literary agent and book publisher excited about it. All I have to do is write the chapter abstracts and it's done... yet I've been idle on it for months. To make matters worse, I'm excited about the concept too!
  • Responding to every comment on the Blog. I made a promise to do my best to respond to every Blog comment. For a while, the getting was good, but I've dropped off. I jump back in and commit to making it happen, then it fades away and doesn't happen. I read Mark W. Schaefer's Blog or Gini Dietrich and it reminds me of how bad I am at doing the whole back-and-forth in my Blog comments. I'm often embarrassed by my lack of presence in the comments.
  • Community service. I used to give nearly one-third of my time to community service. I was involved in many charitable and community-based groups. As work and home life evolved, I've retracted from the many different groups and organizations, and haven't been active at all in the past while. Yes, I've taken on the role of Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Canadian Marketing Association, but I'm also interested and passionate about doing something to help those in immediate need. I miss my community service.

I'm failing miserably at a whole bunch of other stuff too (no need for family, friends and colleagues to remind me about them in the Blog comments below!).

The funny thing about failing miserably is how obvious it is to the individual, but how ridiculous it looks to others. I'm sure many people would be thrilled to find the time to read five books a year or even have the problem of a Blog that gets enough comments to require a response. Pushing that further, I'm sure there are many people reading this who are recipients of some of the services that the charitable organizations I've volunteered for dish out or would be thrilled to have the physique I have (though, I doubt that ;).

"The grass is always greener."

Let it come as no surprise that the greatest marketing and advertising preys on people's self-image. It does an amazingly powerful job of pointing out perceived flaws and how their product or service is the cure-all. Beyond that, human beings have a natural temperament to believe that someone else's lot in life is better than theirs. As an agency owner, ridiculous deadlines, temperamental clients, trying to deliver breakthrough creative and inter-office politics is par for the course... not just in my agency, but in every agency. The key to overcoming this stress/struggle and the key to not letting everything you think you're failing miserably at is to add a dash of real-life perspective into your diet.

What does this look like? 

Here's a personal tip... In the past short while, I've had many people close to me deal with personal and health situations that have involved kids being sick. Really sick. If you ever think you're failing miserably at something, think about your local children's hospital. Think about all of those kids, with all of those medial issues and what goes on in there - day and night - without end. Think about what these little kids are going through then think about what their family friends and going through. Reading another book, losing ten pounds, finishing a book proposal, responding to some Blog comments, dealing with a frustrated customer, grappling with a new idea, and having the fortunate position to be able to volunteer for a community organization doesn't really seem like any sort of real problem that should be considered "failing miserably" at if you're not one hundred percent at every single waking moment.

Does it?

By Mitch Joel