Archive | January, 2020

5 Phases to decompose failure: from (a) fall to spring growth

16 Jan

Walking through a garden, park, or, forest it’s clear that some growth is successful – and others, well, FAIL.

So I asked myself: What would Mother Nature do with failure?

Technically: Nature decomposes death/failure ‘naturally’ and recycles the nutrients for future growth. It collects failure’s building blocks (lego-piece learnings), for future adventures. Brilliant recycling and reusing I’d say!

Emotionally: It should make sense to mimic this process of Mother Nature, BUT, our human nature is more emotional than technical. And emotions are powerful, running high during, and after, failure!

Failure is a tough subject; and needs to be acknowledged and celebrated more, which is why I’m adding this third post to decomposing failure and decomposers: unsung heroes. The only way to avoid failure is NOT to risk – and it would be a shame for us to live that way. Failure is natural and healthy since it leads to growth.

Thinking technically, thanks to Mother Nature’s actions, here are my 5 phases to decompose failure from (a) fall to growth:

Phase 1: WALLOW

Phase 1: Wallowing in ‘death’ of a dream, love, or…

Technically, I wonder if Mother Nature every feels hopeless? Then I realize – nope… After all, it seems nature NEVER gives up strewing seeds and striving for them to take root, season after season after season. Yet, in early autumn as leaves litter the ground, they seem to sit, fester, wait for decomposition. So while I don’t think Mother Nature feels hopeless, wallowing seems ‘natural’.

Emotionally, we humans also wallow in misery for a spell, processing failure and preparing to decompose our experience. Personally, I’ve found wallowing to be a bittersweet and a luxury. The key perhaps is how much time we wallow – days vs. months…

PHASE 2: Gather a team for decomposing failure

Phase 2: Sharing misery with others – and getting feedback

Technically, Every action in nature is a team effort, with each organism having a specific role and part to play in any process, including with decomposing ‘death’ and a failed tree or animal. Mother Nature shares her failings with decomposers and trusts them to take over, which worms and fungi do.

Emotionally, we’re likely to decompose failure through chatting it out, often getting unsolicited, unwanted, and some very good thoughts! One thing to mimic from Mother Nature is her use of teamwork: rely on others for help and to do what they do best, including breaking down and encouraging building block ‘learnings’ from failure.

PHASE 3: Process the ‘building blocks’ (or thoughts) of your team

Phase 3: Working it through – nothing like a good walk to go from feeling crappy to seeing new ways of looking at a fail.

Technically, Decomposers, those unsung heroes, break down the ‘dead stuff’ and collect building blocks/nutrients to return to the soil. It takes time – dead leaves, for example, don’t disappear over night reminding us that working it all through takes time. This is the time for that whiff test: when dead leaves littering the ground in the fall smell like a frat house bathroom on a Sunday morning.

Emotionally, our ‘dead’ stuff slowly decomposes into building blocks aka new ways (and optimism) to move forward while taking into account what our team of decomposers have shared. A good walk – in nature (really!)- breaks down that ‘pile of dead leaves’ feeling into new ideas springing forward.

PHASE 4: WRITE OUT your failure’s building blocks: what was learned and what will built on. Keep this list handy for frequent review.

Phase 4: Sit down and really process what worked – and what didn’t. Think about how you changed and what you learned from the failure and how you’ll build your future.

Technically, No notebook needed as natures’ decomposers break down – and sort out nutrients from ‘death’, returning these lego-like pieces, into the soil for future life. Mother Nature’s ‘list’ can be seen through spring’s new growth or by grabbing a handful of rich, moist, black soil, full of building-block nutrients.

Emotionally, How we decompose our failure is personal, and we each need to find a process that works for us. Perhaps it’s decomposing a fail with a team who listens as you chat it through, or, curling up with a notebook and a good cup of tea or coffee. I write/scribble what failed and work my way to what I learned and then share with friends. Above are a few of my failure’s building blocks (lego pieces) currently growing my present, and future.

KEY: TAKE ACTION! It’s great to collect your building blocks, and as important, to rebuild, to try again. The worst thing would be to not risk, not take action because of fear of failing (again). Keep collecting building blocks!

PHASE 5: SUCCESS is when your building blocks create the growth you want.

PHASE 5: You’ve written your building blocks – and focused what you want – and need. It’s key to stay focused on those blocks.

Focus your building blocks as a guide to ACTION! Play with them a bit and see how it will work ‘in real time/life’. If, like me, you’ve repeated a fail, its likely your building blocks weren’t clearly defined and decomposed. Being specific is important, and, also taking the time to fully decompose and plan your re-growth.

Emotionally and Technically it’s about ACTION!

Phase 5: The great success/accomplishment of a dream and goal – after grabbing what was learned from failure!

Technically, nature flashes her success in spring growth and the birth of new life. It looks easy, ‘natural’, but of course all built on decomposers building on the past.

Emotionally, celebrate those successes, those failures, and most of all the learning. Too often we only celebrate the BIG wins and what is shared on Facebook and Instagram or the newest of social media sites. Life is so much richer than that.

I think it’s time to look at all the learning, the failures and the little wins and successes we build and become every day.

Act technically; live emotionally. As difficult as it is, REMEMBER: Success is built from failure’s building blocks – and from following these 5 Phases!.

Go ahead – take a risk – be healthy – failure be damned!

Decomposing Failure: 2020 Vision

7 Jan

I believe: ‘Everything I need to know in life I coulda, woulda, shoulda learned from Mother Nature’.

So why not think of failure the way Mother Nature does?

Nature’s dead stuff is whisked ‘away’ and recycled into spring’s fall fling (aka new growth) as I wrote about decomposers being the unsung heroes of the forest. Failure, like dead stuff on the ground outside our house has to go somewhere, otherwise it builds up and drowns us. It makes me wonder: how do we recycle OUR personal ‘dead’ stuff? Mother Nature brilliantly has decomposers to keep nutrients flowing – surely we can do something similar, right?

Dead stuff is how we may feel inside when we’ve failed. Failure being the death of us, or more likely a dream.

When did ‘FAIL’ and ‘LOSE’ become such bad 4-letter words. And why???

Failure may not be fun, but it can be a wonderful experience. Really – it’s not just something someone says who’s successful.

Imagine failure in nature, whether a plant dying, a giraffe captured by a lion (and dying) as natural; little experiences that feed into the future. (I live by my emotions, yet our human emotions separate us from nature in an unnatural way.)

Like nature, we can break down the ‘dead’ stuff from our experiences (aka failure) and grab the leanings to recreate our actions, thoughts, and, lives. It’s all about working out the ‘bugs’ (sorry, a decomposer pun…).

Not all flowers blossom; just like not all dreams bloom. Nature doesn’t give up and neither should we!

There may be reasons for failure, but also things that can be changed. It feels horrible to be sure, but think of the stories!

So here are four thoughts as we head into 2020 to think ‘naturally’ about failure and cultivate your life and grow your dreams:

  • Face it: failure happens.
  • Look at what went wrong: OUCH!
  • Make a change or two: tending to your life is like tending to a garden, even if like me, you don’t garden…
  • See what grows and do it all over again!

Change sometimes happens by being open and acknowledging failure – and the reasons for the failure.

Celebrating what you’ve learned, rather than wallowing in the shame gives the confidence to move forward and try again – and again – and again.

Mulch those learnings and remember to supply the right resources for growth!

Like all good (metaphorical and other) scientists, I view my life as an experiment. I fail – a lot. In fact, I view this blog as an experiment to work through my ideas. Each post is a seed I’m planting; finding ways to nurture that idea to blossom in the best way. I expect to make lots of changes as I mulch and decompose what doesn’t work. (And as my drawing skills improve.) Most of all I’m finding that putting these ideas ‘out there’ after thinking and talking about them for almost a decade is freeing and FUN! So please, join my exploration of how human nature mimics the laws of science and nature!


Build on what you learn – don’t drown in OTHER PEOPLE’s voices. Listen to your own voice and GROW!


Wishing you the happiest of risks, the best possible learnings – failures be damned in 2020.

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