Successful Failures?

Dear reader,

Yesterday was my first visit to the RSA (Royal Society of Arts) event at the RSA house in the heart of the City of London. Which is a shame really, since I’ve been here on/off for about 3 months already.

Not being used to professional networking and code of behaviour or conduct, but always open for new possibilities, relationships and opportunities, I had mixed feelings of excitement and some nervousness as well. However, being someone that is hardly present and certainly not known, I thought nobody would notice my presence or be interested in what I do or who I am. And that gave me the courage to let go of the nervousness and leave space for curiosity only.

I couldn’t be more wrong. I guess the difference between Slovenian and the UK working culture is not only in the way how we approach and adopt new ideas, but also in the way how we connect and relate to other people, especially how we establish new relationships. Just for a short illustration (and please bear in mind that this is my experience only and is not necessarily a ‘general truth’): when I was younger and had volunteered for the faculty where I studied, I often had experiences such as when proposing new ideas, I would get five arguments and ways why this idea wouldn’t work out and a list of at least five things what could go wrong on the way. I thought this is the way things are done, so adjusted myself in order to be able to function in such an environment. While when I first moved to England, about three years ago, I had a different experience. When I did pluck up my courage to finally dare to propose something, I got a response which surprised me so much, that I think this was one of the first reasons why I fell in love with this country in the first place. I would immediately get at least five ways of suggestions what else I might do, as well as be offered support and useful contacts of people that might be of help. This was accompanied by an attitude of genuine interest and respect. Not something I was used to very much.

So I would let go of my old beliefs and start behaving, working in and seeking for the environment where my ideas were supported. My life changed since then (have a look at the older blog posts if interested how).

The same experience I had three years ago, happened yesterday. I was so wrong for thinking I would not be noticed. At the very beginning, the lady who was hosting the eveng announced this meeting is a special meeting as there are two Fellows from the overseas. And I was so blushing while raising my hand to show who I was yet still I thought people wouldn’t really notice. Wrong again. In the gaps between different project pitches where we were mingling, I couldn’t even get to the second glass of wine as so many people approached and expressed interest. So I met some wonderful skilled, talented and dedicated people and thanks to A., I was introduced to many other Fellows with whom we will possibly work on making the positive difference in our society.

The point of this post was that it is NOT normal or natural to be working in so called ‘problem focused’ environments. Failure is no shame and absolutely not a setback. It is a lesson, learning and a sign of moving. And new ideas should be encouraged, even though we might encounter trouble on the go (which great ideas don’t???) and even though there will probably be moderate or high risks.

In the RSA meeting there was a terrific pitch about failure, as a precondition of a big success. And in order to make that possible, we need successful failures. We of course might not recognize them as such at that moment, however looking back, we might actually be proud and happy to have failed at something, because that opened doors to something else. Something spectacular, possibly

I know I’ve had many failures. Now I also know that many of them have been quite successful failures!



For the SuccessfulFailure project visit Twitter @TSFIntervierws

Downsize This: a Failure and a Temptation to Complicate (Notes About a Simple Life, Part 3)

Dear reader,

In the last post promised you the next post in simplifying our lives will be about the garden. Well, to be honest, life happened in between and since nobody is perfect, I failed following the Simple Life agenda for a day or three or a week.

Last week I was super busy preparing for the second part of the very first Slovenian Solution Focused Professional Training (link to the event in SLO language). Following the Simple Life Notes, I thought I would get the most ideas engaging in meaningful activities like gardening, walking in the nature or reading, but instead I was sitting in front of my laptop and about half of that time was mere nonsense. Though I do realize this is as well a part of creative process, I wasn’t particularly proud of myself. What was worse, I began to browse some stupid webpages with clothes and outfits and even ordered some things, though a new pair of jeans is the last thing I need.

I felt pretty bad. Though the training was awesome and I really enjoyed it (the participants as well, so they say), I knew deep down I’m not following the Simple Life Notes anymore and that bothered me.

Luckily yesterday we had some very nice friends coming over and I was happy for a while. But today again, not many productive or meaningful activities from my side. Again I noticed myself browsing and looking at some skirts I don’t need and blouses I won’t wear. So wtf? I decided to take a nap.

But couldn’t sleep. I wasn’t tired physically. My mental capacities were tired, because the training programme was hard intellectual work and also a huge responsibility, because I really wanted to make the most use of our training for our participants. Since this is the first training in Slovenia, I couldn’t draw upon existing experience, because there weren’t any. So naturally I was tired and empty afterwards.

What now? Should I continue blaming myself for breaking the Notes I wrote? Should I just drop the whole experiment and return back to the old habits? Should I not tell you about it and come back to you with some other posts about how fabulous our training was?

I listened to my inner dialogue for a moment. It was a nasty and rough monologue and my head was nearly exploding. So I got up. approached my piano and sat down. I heard a melody in my head, which cleared my mind and let my thoughts go away one by one slowly and gently. Started playing. It felt good, though I made several mistakes. Played some more. Pieces like Beethoven and Chopin. And then the sun came out from cloudy sky. And I smiled, because it was all good. I didn’t fail at anything. I’m not competing with anyone. I’m not trying to prove anything. Or accomplish anything. I just want to explore and play with simplicity. It’s work in progress. When you are ready, life gives you a lesson. When you are not ready, you won’t recognize it. The best lessons aren’t meant to be pleasant. And learning happens in many ways. Guess I was ready for my lesson.

My piano is a great way for me to clear my head and let me be in contact with my senses through balancing heart and mind. It has been like that since I was 4 years old and wanted to have a piano. Now I have one, a baby grand. And it helps me discover that I do deserve to talk to me in a gentle and supportive way, even though I “failed” my agenda for a couple of days. My failure was only contemporary, compared to the rest of the time when I was doing great. So why would I want to treat myself poorly for learning?

No need to complicate things. Even when you fail. A temptation is big, yes it is. And yet, it’s your choice, that only you can make.

Wish you gentle monologues, even during times when you are not proud of yourself. You are learning. That’s actually something to congratulate yourself!


My baby grand

My friend who never judges. Even when I make mistakes.

Meet a person who saved my life and doesn’t know it

Dear reader,

sometimes your actions echo and reach much much further than you may realize. Well I think that most of your actions cause somehow a snowball effect, only you might not be aware of it.

Here’s a story about someone that had much influence on my character in the past and is still very, very special to me. A story about someone, who used to be like a mother when I needed one most. A story of someone whom I call my person, the one that watched me grow up and stayed, even until today. Her name is M.

She used to be my teacher in grammar school. I was in love with her. She was my role model and everything she said or did, I wanted to be like her. She had a great sense of humour and my notebooks were full of short notices about the jokes she made in class. She was also a poet and inspired me to write myself. I secretly wished that I would somehow resemble her when I grow up. But I was a messy teenager. Very bright and hardworking, but not very well behaved. I believed in justice and couldn’t keep my mouth shut when I noticed some iniquities. I was also very active and would be in first rows when somebody would propose some action, even though it might have been a silly one. So I happened to be a co-editor of a school paper, which my class had set up and wrote many articles for it. In the beginning of my third year, I was preparing for a national ballet competition and I was quite unhappy about my ballet teacher’s work and attitude. He made it clear I was not his protégé, even though I was the only one in class being sent to this competition. I was upset with his methods and behaviour, and not just his, but the entire school policy. Ballet world sucks – it’s very competitive, most of the discussions are around your obeying body and relationships are harsh. But I didn’t mind it back then. What I did mind, was that I wanted to work even harder, but had no opportunity to do so. I wanted more trainings, more lessons, but couldn’t find a listening ear that would enable me to develop to the maximum. So since nobody would listen, I wrote an article about this – an anonymous one, without names, but I did put a signature, which clearly pointed to me as an author. I didn’t want to hide, but didn’t want to point fingers either. I felt I had to let it out and hoped that something would change.

Much changed, and the change came rapidly. My ballet teacher recognized himself in this piece of writing and went mad. I was called up into his office and he yelled at me for about half an hour so loud, that the entire school heard it. I was called names, was threatened and in the end, sent home with a prohibition to come back until the teaching staff board meeting. What was worse, was that he revealed himself as being the person I was referring to in the article, so that everybody knew who he was and what he’s doing and that upset him even more.

I went home. I was petrified. And shocked. My intention was not to harm anybody, but to raise an issue that it is time for a change and discussion. Everything I told was the truth and furthermore, it was not my opinion entirely. We talked about these issues and most of my other colleagues agreed with my concerns, but as soon as this happened, their mouths were shut and I was left alone.

The board meeting was in a few days. I was not allowed to attend trainings in the meantime. When the board was over, M. approached me and said they were considering expulsion. But she told me not to worry, because it’s not going to happen. Later on I heard that she stood up for me in the meeting and claimed that all I did was expressing my opinion in a free speech country and I should not be punished for daring to step out to say the emperor’s naked. She was the only one who dared to say something in my defence. So they did not expel me, I only got a final notice. But the ballet teacher withdrew his mentorship and wouldn’t talk to me for one year, even though I won the second place in that competition. However, inspite of that I cried almost every night, because my spirit was broken. And this was the end of my wild nature. It was the beginning of the end of my career as a dancer, only I didn’t know this at that point. I was only 16.

The end happened about 5 years later. Following years brought me much trouble and some very difficult time. When I left the opera house, I was a nervous wreck. Most of the people abandoned me. M. stayed. But she never asked anything. Never judged. She left me alone, but not lonely. Never gave me “the disgusting look” I frequently got from the others in terms of “look at her, she’s destroying herself and there’s no hope for her”. She was just simply there as if nothing was wrong and I was always good enough, even though I was nothing and felt like nothing.

After I went to the university, she stayed still. Talked to me about different things. She was interested in how I was doing. And I think she saved my life, because she showed me that life goes on, no matter what. That even though you lose everything, some people stay. Not because of what you do and how you do it, but simply because you are and that’s enough. This was huge for me and made me realize, she was there the whole time, from the first day I came to this school. She wrote a letter to me when I was in a hospital and couldn’t rehearse. She congratulated me for my birthday, every year. She read my poems and encouraged me to write, because she thought I was talented. And she was proud when I graduated and won the Prešeren’s prize.

She’s retired now, but we still keep in touch. Our relationship has changed, because she’s not my teacher anymore and I’m a grown-up, but it has become an even better one. She follows this blog and I know that when she’ll read this post, she’ll be very surprised. So here’s to you, M.: You probably had no idea what a positive influence you had on my development. Nevertheless, yes – you saved my life and you contributed a great deal to my moral education. I’m grateful to have the opportunity to share a piece of my life with you and have a tiny place in yours. It is a gem for me and no words will ever be enough to say thank you for what you have done and that you are still here.

Once we spent an afternoon at your place and you gave me a small notebook. I use it to write good things in it, that have happened to me. And there are actually many things in there! So maybe I’ll start writing some posts in Slovenian, as you requested. Maybe the time is right to do so.


I am vulnerable

Dear reader,

Although it’s summer holidays and not much going on, I have several new clients coming in. With one we talked about our need to be recognized in this world, our need to belong somewhere and a need to matter something to someone. She wanted to express herself for who she really is, but was afraid that the environment might not like and accept that. Yet only if she would find the courage to express herself, she could truly live.

She taught me something special. She said she would like to start a blog, upload some videos, write music and scripts. Would like to be authentic, which would be the only way for her to feel alive. Then she shared an amazing thought. She said that being authentic means that you share some of your vulnerability with a wider audience, you open your heart to complete strangers and offer them opportunity to hurt you, hoping they won’t. And by sharing your stories and experience, you can help others who struggle with same issues as you are. She’s a true artist.

She made me think about my blog. Though it is not intended to be personal in the first place, it is. Though its aim is to share stories about Solution-Focused Brief Therapy, it’s my story, values, beliefs, fears, failures and wins that are behind. And as I went through my client’s words again, I figured she’s right. She already shows integrity by wanting to share herself with the world without putting a mask on and that’s actually huge.

She taught me something important and I’d like to share it with you. When you write a blog, eventually you can offer your audience one single message they can take with them, as your present posts become a past:

No matter what, change is inevitable.

You are not alone.



Able to show your dirty feet?

A Failed Prodigy

Dear reader,

Is there any such thing as being “objective”? Those engaged in science would without a doubt claim there is or science should at least strive towards objectivity to the fullest extent possible. Well, most contemporary social scientists nowadays more or less agree there’s no such thing as objectivity. It’s just about how many people share the same opinion and the more there are, the firmer their truth appears. In most banal form possible it could also be said that if you repeat some experiment (hypothesis, statement, etc.) long enough and try different methodologies, sooner or later you’ll find the means to prove its probability, reliability and at the end even accuracy.

That’s okay when you acknowledge you cannot be objective (however you can be less emotional about it). It also means there’s no such thing as a failure and no such thing as an ultimate truth. This may sound really scary at first and at the same time incredibly comfortable. Sort of an uncomfortable comfort.

Clients (and friends who are not in sessions, but are keen to know what I do) often ask me if (in sessions) we draw some goals and set some plans/strategies. No. Clients themselves can if they choose to do so. But if they want, they do it anyway, I don’t have to tell them to. An underlying statement about plans and goals is that they predict victory or failure. If you follow a plan and meet the goal, you’re a winner and if you don’t, you’re a looser. Too bad if you fail. Not too complicated to understand, isn’t it?

It would be simple to understand (and to act accordingly) if situations were static. If yesterday’s goal is tomorrow’s reality. But yesterday’s breakfast might not be my favourite breakfast tomorrow. Because things, preferences and even values change. And sometimes they change fast and without an evident reason that would make change a justice. And that hurts, sometimes really bad, because we may feel we’ve failed or disappointed someone (ourselves?) and that we are frauds, liars, hypocrites and so on. We’re none of that. We’re just changing, because everything moves, even the universe changes constantly, not to mention relationships. Suppose we’re being really honest: I will love you forever is a really dangerous statement. It may not be true in 20 years. Does that mean we were lying when we said that? No, it was real. Well then, does it mean we’re lying now? No. Then what’s real?! Both.

Another client came one day to her following session. I asked her what’s been better since we’ve last met. She said her best hopes were not in place anymore as she went through some major unexpected change in her life. For that she labelled herself as being indecisive, confused, wandering and without any direction where she wanted to go. I commented she’s not the same person she was yesterday and that’s fine. We can change her best hopes, without blame, fault or feeling of failure. It’s a game called life.

That’s also why there are no goals. Because they imply failure. And if the client “fails”, she may feel she’s disappointed herself or me and that’s not on our agenda in making progress. The truth (my truth, speaking of ultimate truth) is, she cannot fail no matter what she does or doesn’t do (except in a life threatening situation; we’ll talk about safety and risk on another occasion), because she had a good reason to do whatever she’s done. She also has a good reason to come and she has the resources to create solutions to her problems. All clients do, they just may not know that. So failed prodigies? Not really, just changing. So have a nice day, make as many mistakes possible and spend some fun time laughing about them =)


Today’s picture is borrowed from the streetart found on the web ( May be just a wall that failed (too personal for a wall I know). Or it may be transformed into a piece of art.