The Turtle and the Stones: Learning to Move Past Failures

I am blessed to be part of a wonderful group of women (and a few men) who train every day to be the best in their businesses and this week's trainings were all about Mindset. Any time we have a week where we focus on mindset, I usually end up in a ball of salty tears by the end of the week, not because I am sad, but because I am profoundly changed by the empowering words that forever become embedded in my innermost being. This week was no different. In fact, I was so inspired that I ended up writing a little fable of sorts to illustrate what I learned about myself through this mindset challenge. So without further ado, here is the full story (If you came here from Instagram and have already read it, you can skip down to the bottom for some more insight on how this translates to losing weight.)


The Turtle and The Stones

A turtle was meandering along in the garden one day on the way to see the ocean. He was slowly laying stones to build the path as he went when he heard a small whimper off to his right.

“What is troubling you today, my friend?” he asked.

“I am sad because the world is so dead now. What is there left to live for with so much death in the world?” the sad friend sobbed.

The turtle was perplexed. “Why do you think the world is dead? Why, right here all around you is a garden of flowers, exploding with color!”

“No!” the friend exclaimed. “You must be dreaming. You are not seeing the real world. For right in front of me. All around me is just stones and darkness. There is not even any light. How could flowers grow in this dark place?”

Finally, turtle realized that the voice was coming from a small house inside the garden. He turned around to his wagon of stones he had been carrying to build a path and noticed a similar wagon near the small house. He then asked his sad friend a question.

“When the gardener gave you the stones, why did you choose to build a house instead of a path to see the ocean?”

The sad friend answered, “I thought if I built the house high enough I could see the ocean better from above. But I don't have a ladder, so the more stones I placed on top of each other, the harder it got to move and see out. Now all I see is darkness all around."

Then turtle replied, “But if you build a path to the ocean, you will get to see all the wonderful beauty on the way to the shore. And as you look back, you will be able to see the hard work behind you, weaving through the beautiful garden so that now others can enjoy the view along their way too.”


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Psychologist Susan David says it well in her Ted talk about emotional courage when she says "Only dead people never experience the disappointment that comes with failure. Tough emotions are a part of our contract with life. Discomfort is the price of admission to a meaningful life."

As a human, if we are trying, if we are out there trying something, we are going to fail. When you put yourself out there and try to do something to better yourself, you are not going to succeed the first time. You are probably not going to succeed the second time either. For some of us, like me, we may get stuck. For the longest time, I used the analogy that I was continuously marching around the same mountain over and over. But that's not it. Rather, I think the better analogy would be that every time I fail, let's say, at dieting, I take the stone burden and place it on top of the failure from before. Then when I try to move forward, I stumble and struggle with moving forward. The more I do this, the harder it is to move forward. Eventually, I have failed so many times that I am just surrounded by stones and darkness and I realize that I have created somewhat of a prison for myself and the only thing I see are my failures and I quit and wallow and have a pity party and say "I'll never succeed!"

But if I start to take those stones down and lay them on the path in front of me, instead of getting stuck in the mud, I can stand on the solid ground of the knowledge that I learned during that trial. Maybe I gained some weight back, but I learned that eliminating dairy made me feel 80% better than I had in more than 20 years. Lesson learned, move forward. Next time, maybe I learned how to use tea or bulletproof coffee in the afternoon to stave off my 3PM snack attack (5 pounds lost, 3 gained back - ok lay the stone in the path and move forward).

The thing is, once you start to lay the ground and start to see your failures as stepping stones, you can start to move forward. Like the turtle, you will start to see the beauty along the path to your destination. And another thing will happen too. You will be able to help the next friend along the way. That is the true beauty of learning to move past your failures. The beauty along the way is meeting the other friends who have been there before you, and helping the new ones behind you to learn to build their own path, and join you in their own beautiful way! 

Be Blessed, Be Curly

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