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Success … maybe

There are days when I have difficulty deciding whether a project or workshop is working or not. On other days, I can spend time worrying about whether a decision is good or bad. Or something happens that seems frustrating and upsetting. Often the this story that I encountered a few years ago from Wisdom Tales (p.35-36) comes to mind:

A farmer’s horse ran away. His neighbors gathered upon hearing the news and said sympathetically, “That’s such bad luck.”

“Maybe,” the farmer replied.

The horse returned on his own the next morning, and brought seven wild horses with it. “Look how many more horses you have now,” the neighbors exclaimed. “How lucky!”

“Maybe,” the farmer replied.

The next day, the farmer’s son attempted to ride one of the wild horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. “How awful,” the neighbors said. “It looks like your luck has turned for the worse again.”

The farmer simply replied, “Maybe.”

The following day, military officers came to town to conscript young men into the service. Seeing the son’s broken leg, they rejected him. The neighbors gathered round the farmer to tell him how fortunate he was.

“Maybe,” said the farmer.

Success is often judged by comparing it to the outcome we expected – which is subjective. Circumstances cannot always be judged good or bad. Thomas Edison said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

When things don’t seem to be going the way I hope for I often ask, “What is working well here? What do I need to keep? What do I need to let go? What lessons can I learn?”

Success? Failure? Maybe.

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