Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavor

“Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavor.”

Truman Capote, 20th Century American novelist, playwright and actor

Image from Unsplash by the blowup

Wendy and I recently spent a week in Florida to help celebrate one of our dear friend’s 90th birthday. This special lady is only four feet eight inches tall and probably weighs only a bit more than my five-year-old grandson.

During our time together, I had numerous chances to discuss some of her challenging life events and pivotal moments that helped shape who she is.

It is often said that good things come in small packages—in her case, I’m sure that her keen wit, energy and enthusiastic love of life had folks come from near and far to celebrate her flavorful life!


How would a shift from seeing failure as a bitter pill to a tasty condiment give your life more flavor to savor in the years ahead?


Deconstruct the cool things you see

“Deconstruct the cool things you see… Don’t just taste the recipe, look for the ingredients.”

James Clear, Author of Atomic Habits

Image from Unsplash by Gareth Hubbard

I consider myself a better than average cook, and can whip up something tasty from my fridge and cupboard on most days. I have a modest number of go-to dishes, and find myself using the same ingredients and seasonings over and over.

A few weeks ago, while waiting during a doctor visit, I found myself captivated by a cooking show called The Kitchen.  Watching the masterful chefs and celebrity cooks create simple and tasty dishes with ingredients I have on hand — and never considered using — was a breakthrough in my thinking.


What would be the benefit of deconstructing other aspects of life besides what’s for dinner?

What are the ingredients you can use to whip up better relationships, career success, and a healthier, more meaningful life?

If there was no money, and everything depended on your moral standards

“If there was no money, and everything depended on your moral standards, the way that you behave, and the way you treated people, how would you be doing in life?”

Tupac Shakur, 20th Century American rapper and actor

Image from Unsplash by Markus Spike

Money and possessions are a primary way many of us measure our success and status.

Who are the people at the top in your various professional and personal communities?

What are their extrinsic and intrinsic measures of excellence and achievement?

How do you measure yourself against these people?

How often do you use good character and high moral standards as benchmarks for a meaningful life?


If you were to eliminate all external evidence of success how well would you be doing?

Create a list of 5-10 people in your life that model the moral standards and behaviors you most admire.

Do your best to spend additional time with these folks and let their example help you up your game.


“A crown, if it hurts us, is not worth wearing.”

“A crown, if it hurts us, is not worth wearing.”

—Pearl Bailey, 20th century American actress, singer and author

Image from Unsplash by Nathan Mcgregor

What are the ways that you and others measure success?

How do you keep score to know if you are winning?

How near or far are you from being king or queen of the hill?

Status is one way people measure themselves and others. Think about the business world, entertainment, sports, politics, the military, social media, and other areas of life in which people compare and contrast where they stand.

Where have you noticed or personally experiences the pain of personal and professional status?


Where does wearing the crown of status present a cost far too high to pay?

“The moment of victory is much too short to live for that and nothing else.”

“The moment of victory is much too short to live for that and nothing else.”

—Martina Navratilova, Czech-American professional tennis legend

Image from Unsplash by Keith Luke

Take at least five minutes today to reflect on all you have accomplished so far in your life. Examine your victories and significant successes closely to see what came before the wins and what happened afterward.

To what degree did you learn, grow, and enjoy the journeys that took you to these summits? How sustainable was the afterglow and how much momentum remained weeks, months, and perhaps years later?


Who are the people and what are the things that make your life most rewarding and meaningful?

What shifts in perspective would help you see far more of these moments as a series of continuous victories available each and every day?

“If you have achieved any level of success then pour it into someone else. Success is not success without a successor.”

“If you have achieved any level of success then pour it into someone else. Success is not success without a successor.”

—T.D. Jakes, American author and filmmaker

Image from Unsplash by Reuben Juarez

Who are the people in your personal and professional life that helped you get where you are today?

When I was in my mid 30s, I participated in a year-long seminar called the Wisdom Course. Among the various assignments given was the goal to create a visual and written autobiography of my life.

Beyond going through tons of family photos and a yearbook or two, we were challenged to reach out to many of these individuals to acknowledge their significant influences and acts of generosity.


How have you paid forward life lessons with family, friends, and colleagues?

With whom can and will you generously offer your coaching and support to help them be all they can be?

Don’t be surprised when your own success and satisfaction get a boost of momentum from the law of “Givers Gain.”

“Never let success get to your head. Never let failure get to your heart.”

“Never let success get to your head. Never let failure get to your heart.”

—Ziad K. Abdelnour, Lebanese-American Activist

Image from Unsplash by Langa Hlatshwayo

Using our head and our heart to make wise decisions and navigate life is good counsel. How often do you use this dynamic duo to evaluate the options and opportunities that present themselves at home and at work?

If you are fortunate to have achieved significant levels of personal and professional success, where may you have experienced a heightened sense of importance and a bit of a swelled head?

Alternatively, where have you experienced setbacks, stumbles, or thwarted intentions? Where have these difficulties penetrated to your heart, leaving you with doubts and disappointments?


Please take a listen to the Tim McGraw song, “Humble and Kind.” Let me know what you think or how it makes you feel by replying to this post.

“Set a daily quota of fun. Positive activities act as a happiness supplement.”

“Set a daily quota of fun. Positive activities act as a happiness supplement.”

—Mo Gawdat, Author of Solve for Happy

Image from Unsplash by Mindspace Studio

Where do you use metrics, milestones, scoreboards and quotas to measure your achievements and level of success?

Examine both your professional and personal life. What activities produce these results, and how many of them do you consider fun and a source of happiness?

What are some of the fun activities that come to mind that seem to be reserved for weekends, vacations, or other special occasions? Examining how you feel on Friday and Sunday evenings can be one way to see if your work has the positive elements of fun you look forward to.


What activities can and will you add to your days or begin doing to score more fun in your life?

What activities can you do less of or stop entirely to make room for these happiness supplements?


“Ignore the cup and just enjoy the coffee.”

“Ignore the cup and just enjoy the coffee.”

—Mo Gawdat, Author of Solve for Happy

Image from Unsplash by Jordan @suspct

Product packaging is big business. In so many product categories, it can make the difference between super success and a big fat flop.

Long gone are the days when packaging was meant to only protect and preserve what was inside. Now, the container must scream BUY ME! I’M SPECIAL! I WILL MAKE YOUR LIFE BETTER!

How often does selling the sizzle actually meet your expectations, or better yet, exceed them?

Where, too often, is the added price of the cup not really worth the premium price to get the coffee?


If you enjoy a good cup of coffee check Google for the brands that have the highest rating with the lowest per ounce price.

Where and with whom in your worlds would looking closer at what’s on the inside make the biggest difference?

“You cannot teach a crab to walk straight.”

“You cannot teach a crab to walk straight.”

—Aristophanes, classic Athenian poet and playwright

Image from Unsplash by Chandler Cruttenden

Picture a crab scurrying across a beach, searching for food or a mate, or avoiding a predator.

With claws and legs of different sizes and functions, getting to their destination in a straight line is not the point for this creature—being a successful crustacean living from one day to the next is.

Perhaps our changing world has altered our own way of getting around. Many direct routes to our objectives are not open or have significant detours, causing us to adapt and adjust our course.

What can we learn from the crab? Perhaps if we took more lefts, rights, and zig-zags, would we not only survive, but thrive as we headed into the future?


Where in your personal or professional world is taking the straight path not working?

Where might a less direct path lead you to where you wish to be?