Author and Facebook sensation Scott Stabile’s parents were murdered when he was fourteen. Nine years later, his brother died of a heroin overdose. Soon after that, Scott joined a cult that dominated his life for thirteen years. Through it all, he became evermore committed to living his life from love.
In each chapter of his new book, Big Love: The Power of Living with a Wide-Open Heart, Scott shares a personal experience that pulled him from his center and the ways in which he brought himself back to peace, and to love. While some of his experiences are extraordinary, like extricating himself from the cult mentioned above, most of the stories tell of everyday challenges we can all relate to, like the weight of shame, the search for happiness, and the struggle to be authentic.
We hope you’ll enjoy this short excerpt from the book.
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It started out as a dream come true. A big dream, too. I wrote a screenplay that got produced and released as a feature film in 2012. Released nationwide, that is, on more than two thousand movie screens across the United States. That’s what the film industry calls a very wide release, an especially unusual feat for an independent film like ours. Even Pulp Fiction made it to fewer than fifteen hundred screens. Take that, Quentin Tarantino. Yeah, I was feeling pretty good, like an up-and-coming Hollywood screenwriter. Like a guy on his way to making it. It was just a matter of time before I got my star on Hollywood Blvd.
A dream come true.
Until the nightmare began.
Said film —The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure — an interactive children’s musical, bombed critically and commercially. Extraordinarily so. Referred to by critics as a train wreck, cloyingly unbearable, and akin to witnessing the end of the world, the film found no love with audiences, either. It went on to become the lowest-grossing wide-release film in history. As in ever. It still holds that unenviable title, which makes me, still, the unenviable titleholder: writer of the lowest-grossing wide-release film in history, as in ever.
Not everyone has an Oogieloves, but we all know failure. It’s never fun to fail, at anything. Have you ever been fired from a job or not hired after an interview? Dieted to lose weight, only to put more back on? Gone on a terrific first date and then gotten rejected before the second one happened? We face variations of failure constantly. Many of us have quit smoking and started up again a few weeks later. We’ve missed our kids’ sporting events. We’ve gotten another parking ticket we can’t comfortably afford to pay. We’ve overslept and arrived late to a meeting. We’ve burned dinner. We’ve undercooked breakfast.
Fail. Fail. Fail.
It sucks when we don’t show up for ourselves, or others, the way we want to. Our minds want us to feel ashamed when we fail, so that we stop taking risks and we stay safe in our comfort zones. My mind has used my failures to convince me I am incapable or unworthy or untalented. “You will fail again,” it tells me, “and it will hurt even more next time.” Yes, it’s painful to fail, and it’s important to feel our feelings, including the disappointment and sadness that often accompany failure. I have yet to heal any aspect of my life through denial. Still, it’s just as important to recognize that our failures don’t define us. You are not your burned dinner, or your smoking habit. I am not the Oogieloves. I wrote a box office bomb. So what? That in no way speaks to the quality of my character. I continued to write and share my creativity with the world, even after failing extravagantly. Now that says something about me.
Most successes arise from a mountain of failures, each one unpredictable and scary. We all fear failure, but that doesn’t have to stop us from working toward success. When we honestly acknowledge our failures and learn from them what we can, we create a path to move forward, and to succeed. We can live our lives determined to avoid failure, but in doing so we’re certain to avoid taking chances that might transform our lives in myriad positive ways. We’re also certain to prevent ourselves from learning how to handle failure when we inevitably encounter it. Sure, we fail less by not trying much, but we succeed less, too.
Of course, when we take an honest look at our definition of success, we may discover we’re finding it more often than we realize. How do you define success? I have too often gauged success by how people responded to whatever I created or achieved, without taking the time to honor the process of creation. I’ve invited disappointment by attaching myself to factors beyond my control. Because the Oogieloves failed both critically and commercially, I believed I failed as a writer. Was it not a success that I completed the script? Or that the screenplay was produced into a film? Or that the film defied every odd in Hollywood and made it into theaters? I bought into the idea that the film failed because it bombed. But what about the journey to get to opening day? It’s so rarely the outcome that speaks to who we are and what we’ve achieved. What matters most are the steps we take to reach that outcome.
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Scott Stabile is the author of Big Love: The Power of Living with a Wide-Open Heart. His inspirational posts and videos have attracted a huge and devoted social media following, including nearly 360,000 Facebook fans and counting. A regular contributor to the Huffington Post, he lives in Michigan and conducts personal empowerment workshops around the world. Visit him online at www.scottstabile.com.
Excerpted from the book Big Love. Copyright © 2017 by Scott Stabile.