A couple of weeks ago I had the amazing opportunity to sit down for an interview with Edwin Merino. He is founder and creator of an amazing podcast called Failing Greatly where he talks to all kinds of people about how to be successful and how to use failure to fuel a better life.
I’m excited to share this episode with you and to give you a flavor of what we talked about. I created a short summary of just a few of the questions we covered. While I think the summary gives you a good sense of our discussion, I highly encourage you to download and listen to the podcast, because so much of what we talked about can’t possibly be captured in just the few lines of text below.
Thanks very much to Edwin and I hope you enjoy this podcast!
Here is a short summary of some of the questions we discussed in the interview as well as the time stamp of when those questions come up in the conversation
Q: What’s your advice to someone who wants to go all in on their dreams? – 11:30
Sure there is value in going all in but often people wait and wait and then try to take a big leap. But when they get started, it’s hard, and they just go back to where they started. So if you want to do something new sometimes it’s better to start small and take action now instead of waiting until things are perfect.
For example, I tried to quit smoking cold turkey several times, but it never worked. Then I started just trying to delay having a cigarette whenever the desire arose. Eventually I was able to quit not because of my big commitment, but because I had practiced letting go of that desire, again and again.
The same thing applies to life, if you want to do something big you have to start by taking small imperfect action today.
Q: What do you tell yourself to remember to take things slow? – 17:14
The key is let go of all the things you think you should be doing and instead focus on what you can honestly commit to. Because when you commit to more than you can possibly do, you aren’t really committing to anything.
It’s like having a wife and a mistress, if you have both you likely aren’t committed to either. So it’s better to do less and give yourself fully to it. Than try to do too much, and not be fully engaged. Life is too short to do it all. But it’s just long enough to focus on what matters.
Q: How did you come to change your life in such a dramatic way? – 19:58
For a long time I was only interested in doing things because I wanted to tell cool stories. But the truth is I was just caught up in experiential materialism. My life became about having cool stories, just because I didn’t feel very good about who I was.
But that all came to an end after I lost the best job I’d ever had. What happened was that I caught my boss stealing and when I confronted her I got fired. After that I felt lost and defeat. But this defeat led me to try meditation and eventually to move into the monastery.
At the monastery, I came to see that to be deeply happy I needed to do something that mattered. I learned that the secret to happiness comes from creating meaning in everything you do. So even though I felt like a failure when I lost my job, that failure is what I needed to change my life.
Q: What would you tell someone who is feeling down and defeated? – 30:55
The first thing is I don’t try to uplift them. Most people when they encounter someone who’s sad either offers them advice or tries to cheer them up. But that’s not what they need. So instead of trying to fix them I just try to witness their suffering. This helps them be present with what they are feeling instead of pushing it away. In this way, they can honor what is ending as well as creating space for something new to arise.
Q: What would you tell people who want to start a business? – 36:10
For me starting my business was a process of trial and error. I started just working with a few people when I could and went from there. The key for me has always been to ABS or always be shipping. I found that if I waited for things to be perfect I never got anything done. And so again and again in my business I’ve just tried to put stuff out and see how it was received.
So my advice would be to just get started and not to be afraid. Even if you fail it won’t be that bad.
Q: What is your ultimate goal in business and life? – 43:49
Like most entrepreneurs, I have goals, but what I do differently is that I try to hold them lightly. That way I still have a direction for my business but I’m not so attached to my goals that I can’t be grateful for where I’m at.
Q: What do you do to keep yourself healthy and sane? – 48:58
The big thing for me is to try and live my life like a model for other people. It’s important to me to live these values so that I can share what works for me with clients.
The other thing I do to keep me on track is use social accountability. Some people think changing your life is all about will power, but what I’ve found is that I’m not nearly as successful on my own, as I am when I rely on the strength of those around me.
Finally, the biggest mistake I see people make when they try to change their lives is that when they fail, they don’t pay attention. Failure is always a huge opportunity to learn about what works for you. So the #1 tip I would give to anyone who wants to create change in his or her life is to fail with awareness.
Q: What’s one thing my listeners can do right now to live an extraordinary life? 56:40
I think they should SHUT UP!
I know that sounds kind of funny or harsh, but the #1 reason you can’t access your wisdom is that you are creating too much noise in your life. So instead, I would advise your listeners to embrace silence. Because it’s in that silence that the answers to all of your deepest questions lie.