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Monday, October 4, 2010

Using Failure

I recommend failure highly. It is something most of us will achieve in our lives. It’s like a huge makeover of years of accumulated ideas, beliefs, things, relationships and fears. And we all love makeovers.

I failed spectacularly in this life. In some countries bankruptcy means complete loss of respect and reputation. You are shunned. But in the experience, I learned so much.

Failure is only a stepping stone. Failure only happens when you stop trying and believe that you are beaten. Failure is the foundation to your next step. It lets you sweep away the old and begin fresh again.

If you don’t already know about my personal failure, suffice it to say the now infamous Fanny Mae, the quasi-federal lender, issued a policy change around 1985 to stop lending to anyone owning more than five rental properties. I owned 650. I needed 40 more Fanny Mae loans. My life abruptly changed, ending in a $25 million dollar bankruptcy. I lost everything; owed the IRS $300,000.00; lost my home, my business, my income, my properties and my marriage.

Even in the midst of the ensuing chaos, hope dawned. Failure became the uncompromising foundation, hard and firm, to begin again. The question before me was “Do you want to repeat what you’ve already done?” I did not. I’d already done that business to death. I moved into and then fully chose a completely different path, one I never knew even existed. The gut wrenching loss allowed for that new opportunity. All the old had been swept away and I had a clean start.

Passing through that dark place of suicidal intentions, I moved on. Self worth destroyed; future in doubt in every way, survival was necessary once I chose life.

Now a clean slate can be a scary thing. I decided that I could either be scared or excited. Scared wouldn’t help and both feelings are like butterflies in the stomach. I chose to be excited. Remember when you were in school and couldn’t wait to be graduated? Everything was possible. The world was your oyster. You just needed to be set free to conquer it. It was exciting. You were filled with anticipation of the first job, being out in the real world and making your mark. Life after failure was the same thing. I knew I could either embrace that wondrous excitement or hang on to the fear of what I’d lost.

Many times one cannot see the possibilities, the reasons, the clean slate of opportunities when the muck and mire of failure and loss seems to drown you. My shift came through curiosity. I have always loved learning and researching; teasing out the solution to a puzzle; and I was certainly in the biggest puzzle of my life. I chose to read a book unrelated to my business. I was curious. I wanted to escape. That book piqued my interest to begin a quest to understand myself, the universe and those big questions about the meaning of life and my part in it.

I read voraciously, 450 books in one year even in the midst of the bankruptcy issues. I couldn’t stop. I was enthralled, fascinated. Half way through all that learning, I saw an ad for a lecture on one of the topics in those books and went. Finally I’d found real food for the soul. I was hooked. The financial crisis began to fall into a perspective and became more of a background to my life, instead of my whole life. The awareness I was grasping through the books and the teacher easily became more engrossing than the financial distress. What I was discovering gave me a new way to understand what had happened. It gave me an opportunity to think about my life in a new way and to see new and very different possibilities.

Because I pursued this new knowledge with passion, I fell down Alice’s proverbial rabbit hole deeper and deeper and found more passion, knowledge and truth and called it food for my soul. I found so many new interests I felt good about. My new love became Tarot, the ancient method of divination, self analysis, spiritual growth and the soul’s journey. It was complex, deep, comprehensive, multi-layered and fascinated me endlessly. After 20 years it still does!

I cannot imagine any journey being more exciting. I was grateful that I’d had that fulfillment of having had lots of money and the things money could buy. Though I was never truly what I call wealthy, the billionaire type, I certainly lived a life that was free from want and full of luxury. I often meet people that say “Gee I wish I could …. Live in a big home; drive a luxury car; take a trip; etc, etc. Been there done that and it was grand! But the point is BEEN there. I don’t have to revisit it. I am fortunate and grateful to have experienced it. I neither fear nor crave such a reality again. It is a nice balanced place to be.

No matter how far you fall into failure, no one can remove your knowledge. It is your self worth you must repair; that and your passion. One will lead into the other.

My passion for Tarot led me to begin doing readings for others. It became the next part of my life, these 20 years. You can bankrupt the entrepreneur, but you can’t take away the entrepreneurial spirit. So my business, metaphysical and right brained, took on an entrepreneurial flair.

Failure was my springboard to a new life. Chaos and depression were experiences to acknowledge, embrace, and nurture consciousness. My whole next 20 years proceeded in unimagined ways from the foundation of total failure. Thank god I lost everything. Yes, it was painful and there are more benefits from having experienced that shift than I could ever have imagined as I was passing through it.

Because I moved into this strange world of peculiar knowings, intuitions and medical intuitives; I was diagnosed and healed of cancer all within one week. Had I never lost it all, the diagnosis would have come long after; the potential healing would have been a totally different path and who knows its outcome. I have often wondered if my properties, all in inner cities, would have survived the meth labs and lead paint and mildew problems that plague older, inner city property. I loved what I did, but certainly the stress had its impact.

My life is much simpler. My life style has changed little. My only real indulgence in the old days was dining out. I still love it but with all the fatty, starchy, fried restaurant foods, I actually prefer to cook at home using healthier ingredients. I am happy. The basic tenets of my first and most beloved teacher on this new path were “Drink Water. Choose Joy and Live in the Now”. It has become The Way for me.

I recommend failure highly. Use it well.