Labonte’s Fables: The Lions’ Den

Throughout my career, I told a story that demonstrated how I saw success in the business world. Now that I am retired, I see that the story is about more than success in the business world. It is a story about how the world sees achievement.

Once upon a time, Roman guards marched three falsely imprisoned men to the entrance of the coliseum. Hungry lions roamed the coliseum floor, waiting for the prisoners to enter. The guard pushed the first prisoner through the gates. The prisoner bobbed and weaved past the angry lions, making it to the other side of the coliseum without significant injury. The second prisoner did not share the same fate. He darted around, dodging teeth and claws. The lions were too angry and hungry, though. And the prisoner was a little too slow and a little too scared. Lion after lion caught him. They dragged his body across the coliseum. They scratched him and bit him and tore off several appendages. He just made it across the coliseum floor before bleeding out and dying. In all the excitement, the third prisoner slipped away from the guards. While everyone was watching the lions destroying the second prisoner, the third prisoner found a way around the coliseum and met the guards on the other side without ever having to face the lions.

You see, some people face the lions in life and come out of the experience relatively unscathed. Sure, they might have a manageable, impressive scar or two attesting to their courage. However, they are still upright and functional. They still have all their body parts… and all their marbles. These are the heroes of success in our world. Then, there are the people who face the lions and get eaten. Even if they make it through the coliseum alive, they will never be right again. Often, our world mocks these people and labels them failures without even knowing what circumstances led them to their bloody end. Finally, there are the people who figure out how to make it through life and reach the goals to which most of our world aspires without ever going through the lions’ den.

Moral #1- Just because a person fights the lions and loses doesn’t mean he is a loser.

Moral #2- As noble as it can be to face the lions, it is sometimes better to avoid the lions when you can.

Alternate ending:

The prisoner who is circumnavigating the coliseum to avoid the lions was attacked by a far more vicious beast- a man with hate in his heart. The man with hate in his heart murdered the prisoner.

Moral #3- Everybody has scars, even when we don’t watch them happen.

Which moral resonates with you the most? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at

Have a lion-free day!

Terri/Dorry 🙂

The Need To Succeed

I’ve written a book.  It has taken me over a year and a lot of work, but I’ve written a book. 

I’ve said I wanted to be a writer all my life, so this is a big deal.  I’ve sent this collection of my brain nuggets off on its first wave of agents in attempt to interest someone in representing me.  My research suggested a strategy of soliciting about ten prospective agents at a time, continuing with query letters to a new batch of people every four weeks or so.  The guru I consulted implied that it is not unusual for a new writer to receive 20-30 rejections from agents before receiving an offer of representation.  The responses to the first wave of queries are starting to flit into my email. I am well on my way to those 20-30 rejections.   

When I started work on the book, I told myself that I was doing it for fun. I told myself I was doing it for personal satisfaction. I told myself that I was just ticking off a box on my bucket list.  I told myself that I wouldn’t be disappointed if no one wanted to represent or publish it.  I told myself a lot of happy hoopla that people tell themselves when they are trying to force themselves to feel rationally. 

I think feeling rationally may be an oxymoron. 

At any rate, despite my best intentions, I do feel a little deflated as I collect my rejection replies.  It isn’t that I am completely demoralized or depressed or anything so dramatic.  I don’t even feel like I’ve given up yet (although maybe I should!)  Still, I have to admit to feeling a bit dispirited.  Maybe even vaguely ashamed.   

I think it has a lot to do with the ingrained “need to succeed” that drove my every action and emotion while I was working.  During my work life, so much of my worth seemed tied up with results and achievement.  It was easy to feel exposed and ashamed when something didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to, no matter how hard I tried for a good outcome.  It was as if any sub-wonderful result would mean that everyone would know I wasn’t as smart or talented or strong or whatever as I was supposed to be. I don’t think I’m the only one who carried that world view on her back.  I’ve heard many people voice similar weird concerns that everyone would “find out” they weren’t all they were cracked up to be.    

Now, with the book, I am wondering if I am voluntarily taking on this burden again. I remember that my stomach clenched when I hit the send button on the first query email.  I knew, going into this project, that it was very likely that I would not find an agent willing to represent me.  There are a lot of reasons why writers do not get representation contracts or publication deals.  I’ve read that only about 2% of writers who submit their work for consideration are successful in obtaining agents.  My writing may not be good enough to make it into the top 2%, which doesn’t make it bad.  My writing may be good enough, but my subject or format may not be commercial enough to interest agents and publishers.  My “platform” may not be strong enough to provide the credibility to convince publishers that I have sufficient built-in customers to reduce their risk.   All of these are possible, even probable, reasons why I may never attract an agent.  None of them should be shameworthy, however. 

If the rejections continue, more and more people in the literary world (people who I don’t even know, by the way) will discover I am less talented or less commercial or less savvy or less something.  I have to figure out a way to be okay with that, if I am going to play out the entire scenario.   

There are things I could do to shore up some of my “lesses” that would probably increase the likelihood of attracting an agent and publisher.   I could attend writers’ conferences.  I could pursue speaking engagements more aggressively.  I could figure out how to promote myself on social media. When I was working, I even had some experience and skills that would probably translate very well to this new challenge.  The thing is- I’m just not that into doing any of them. The idea of attending writers’ conferences has some appeal, but I’m sure I’d have to mix and mingle at the conferences for it to do much good and mixing and mingling holds no appeal whatsoever.  As an extreme introvert, it is difficult for me to even ask people to read my blog.  The idea of aggressively trying to put myself in the public eye makes me cringe.  I can challenge myself a little and I probably will try to expand my horizons a bit in the promotion arena, but I really don’t want to cause an earthquake in my comfort zone. As far as social media goes…. My idea of hell is dealing with technology.    

If I am not going to do much to reduce the likelihood of rejections, maybe I need to concentrate on what I’ve already accomplished to evaluate the outcome of my goal to be a writer.

·       I have grown personally and built myself a more satisfying retirement life through writing.

·       I have been writing a weekly blog for just about two years. 

·       I have more unique visitors to my blog each month than I ever thought possible.

·       I approach 30,000 hits on the blogsite each month.

·       I have wonderful, thoughtful readers who leave generous and supportive comments.

·       I have people contact me who say that something I’ve written has helped them.

·       I have written a book that pleases me. 

There isn’t anything wrong with having a need to succeed.  You just have to be discerning about how you define “succeed.” 

Do you feel the pressure of “the need to succeed?”  How do you define “succeed?”  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at

Have a successful day!

Terri 🙂


Momentum: The Superpower of Success

Alert the media! Stop the presses!  Something went right today.

After multiple home improvement debacles, my gut is firmly trained to seize up and revolt at any mention of the word “handyman.”  I actually expend quite a bit of energy trying to ignore situations that might require the services of a home repair professional.

Today, however, we actually accomplished something with minimal time, hassle, and expense.

Some time ago, the fluorescent light tubes over Max’s bathroom sink burned out.  We replaced them.  This involved climbing on stepladders, kneeling on the counter, and holding things above my head.  There is no question that Max is the one who did the bulk of the heavy lifting.  Even in my very limited capacity, I was graceless and ineffectual.  However, we did finally get both the light tubes replaced. 

A few weeks ago, Max again complained that the lights were flickering on and off.  When he flipped the switch to illuminate the bathroom, the lights took his request under advisement.  However, they were as likely to stay stubbornly unlit or to tease him with a hopeful flicker as they were to emit actual sustained light.  When they did cooperate, Max would leave them on for hours just to avoid another confrontation later.  While this strategy had marginal success for a little while, the lights eventually breathed their last.

Max mentioned the situation to me.  He diagnosed the problem as a need to replace the ballast.  He suggested that we call the electrician company we used a few other times.  I agreed, in an absent-minded kind of way.  I put it on my mental “to-do” list, but didn’t “do.”

For a couple of weeks, Max employed various workarounds for light in the bathroom.  Like the trooper he is, he found ways to take care of his daily ablutions without benefit of overhead lighting while he patiently waited for the “call electrician” item to work its way up on the “to-do” list.

I finally decided to do something before Max became the victim of a self-inflicted shaving fatality.  On Saturday, I called the electrical company we’ve used in the past.  The dispatcher told me that he wasn’t sure the company still covered our area.  He told me he’d check and call back.  Amazingly, he did.  But only to tell me that he was still checking and would call back in a little while.  Come Monday, we still had not heard back.  “Here we go again,” I thought. 

I went trawling the internet for another highly-rated electrician.  I thought I found one and called, only to have the dispatcher tell me their company didn’t handle our area for small jobs.  Fortunately, she did give me a referral to another vendor, though.

I called electrician #3.  Jackpot!  He answered the phone immediately.  He quoted an acceptable price.  He stopped at the supply warehouse and appeared on our doorstep inside half an hour.  Twenty minutes later, he was gone and we had light.

It is amazing how this event changed my metabolism.  For weeks now, I’ve been dragging around barely getting through each day doing what I absolutely had to do.  Today, after the light came on in Max’s bathroom, I was a whirlwind.  I finally drove a couple of nails in the Florida room wall to hang a wreath that had repeatedly fallen to the floor after its suction cup hook stopped adhering to either the wall or window.  I swept the Florida room.  I stopped to get my mother a milkshake on my way to the rehab facility.  I had an emotionally-charged conversation with a doctor at the rehab and then visited with my mother for a couple of hours.  Then, I went to her mobile home and packed up stuff for an hour.  On my way back home, I stopped at UPS to send back her satellite TV box.

It’s crazy that we tend to focus on what goes wrong when concentrating on what goes right generates such a power surge. It seems there is no more effective fuel for activity than success.

At any rate, I am all a-flush with victory.  I am ridiculously happy about the completion of a simple household repair.  But I’ll take it!

How about you?  Do you find that even small successes can motivate you to keep trying?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can send me an email at 

I hope many things go right for you today!

Terri 🙂

Special programming note:  Next week, I may be posting on Tuesday instead of Wednesday morning.  I’m sorry I can’t be more definitive, but such is life.  Thanks for your understanding!