Purpose 1

I asked the simple question, what is the purpose of failure? Why do we have to fail? How come our instinct does not kick in innately to prevent us from undertaking these doomed activities anyway?  Well, I asked this question years ago, and of course, I had no answer for over a decade. A few years later I ran into Dr. Myles Munroe’s quote: “When purpose is unknown, abuse is inevitable”. Well that’s great I thought, now all I had to do was find the purpose for failure.

Failure dead

Well in order to do so, I had to start by defining failure. Merriam-Webster defines failure as “a lack of success”. They, in turn, define success as “the achievement of an aim or purpose”. A glaring omission in both those definitions in the lack of the concept of temporality. Unless you are dead, you cannot declare yourself a failure or a success.

success destination


Success and failure are not destinations rather they are ongoing themes in life suggesting that are more likely a mindset or a world view.  These are not static concepts but they are dynamic concepts which are ever changing and need to be constantly put in context. You can fail in business but have a wonderful marriage. Would you in that instance consider yourself a failure or a success?

Well, the answer is neither, life is not that simple. Also, only time will tell.  Let me give you an example Oprah ended her show on a high, everyone adored her and gave her a wonderful going away party. A few months later everyone was calling her network a failure and suggesting she quit.

What about Bernie Madoff? He was extremely wealthy and well respected in his community for most of his life but we all know how his things evolved. He is currently incarcerated and one of his sons committed suicide in the aftermath of the scandal. Should he be considered a success or a failure? Well again, only time will tell although he likely needs a miracle to turn things around at this point.



Consider this, even if you achieve “success” at a given time point in your life, failure is still nipping at your heels. Have you ever heard of the saying “more money more problems?” (RIP Biggie…). Well, the problem is the more you have, the more you have to lose. One thing I know for sure is, If your level of maturity does not match your level of success, there are 3 possible outcomes; you will either lose the success, lose yourself or much worse lose your life.


The one thing that everyone in this world has an equal measure of is time. We all get 24 hours in a day and once we become adults we all can choose how to spend our time. My advice to you is to put everything you experience within the context of eternity and suddenly you realize that things are just not that serious. If eternity is too long for you, consider everything you experience within the context of the average life expectancy which is anywhere from 60-80 years depending on where you live. 365 days x 80 = 29200 days. That is a really long time.

I personally refuse to allow the decision I make in one day affect or determine my worldview it just doesn’t make any sense. I personally have a running counter on my phone of the number of days I have been married. And whenever my husband and I have a bad day, I literally just pull out the counter and consider the number of good days I have had with him. At the time I am writing this article, I have been married for exactly 3405 days and I can say I have honestly had less than 300 horrible days. Now, does that mean I have a perfect marriage? Absolutely not! Marriage is hard and anyone who knows me can attest to the fact that I am not easy to deal with at all. Just imagine being married to a know-it-all ENTJ, yikes!

From a pure numbers point of view, you cannot let a bad day, week, month, year or even a decade sum up your life. A bad decade is still only 1/8 of your life and there are a lot more days left to consider. That will be like a making a business decision or a legal decision with only 1/8th of the facts.


Now that I have debunked the concept of a failed life. Let me focus on sharing the purpose of failure. What you perceive as failure is really just an opportunity to re-strategize. And if you do not understand the purpose for this perceived “failure” you will abuse it.



Do not allow yourself to be ransacked by your emotions or feelings. One thing I have learned about feelings is the fact that they always change and they change without giving you any advance notice. You just wake up one-morning thinking and feeling different.



I wrote the statement below over a decade ago and I still stand by it.

“I am always floored by how many people I meet who think successful people never fail. Truth be told, most successful people I know fail more times than they are successful. Personally, I have failed at most things I attempted. However, I have learned that success is not a destination rather it is a mindset, a way of life, a certain perspective, a prism through which I view life. When other people see setbacks I see an opportunity to re-strategize. I firmly believe that failing is not designed to stop you, it is designed to give you an opportunity to re-strategize. So please stop misusing and misinterpreting your failures and start re-strategizing.”

Berthina Coleman



power of concentration

The power of concentration when harnessed becomes one of the most powerful tools for success and increased productivity. Concentration however is a skill that is totally antithetic to today’s pop culture. Let’s admit it our inner man-child or woman-child craves to be entertained. Being entertained is fun and refreshing but it also kills productivity like nothing else if  you overindulge.

While in medical school I had to be a full time medical student studying 40+ hours per week, plus I had to be a full time wife and mother to 2 beautiful girls, in addition I also worked part time as a nurse working 20 hours per week. Trust me, increasing my productivity was not just an option it was a necessity. Starting medical school felt a little like a “sink or swim” moment and since sinking has never been an option for me I had to find a way to swim fast and to do so, I had to become PRODUCTIVE really really fast.

The most important thing I learned about PRODUCTIVITY was, in order to maximize your PRODUCTIVITY, you must increase your CONCENTRATION. I quickly realized that the ability to concentrate on a specific task or goal was the secret ingredient to most success stories. The problem is CONCENTRATION is just not sexy. It is boring and it involves things like forming great habits and breaking bad ones. Who wants to hear about that when you could be catching up on Beyonce’s pregnancy pictures? But the truth of the matter is,  the ability to increase your CONCENTRATION is directly proportional to your chance of success:


So here a 5 really quick tips I learned on how to be productive. You may know some of them and you probably just need a quick reminder so here goes;


I learned this the hard way. After forgetting important events and missing important deadlines, I finally learned my lesson. Your schedule becomes your blueprint for increasing your ability to concentrate. Although this may sound paradoxical, my ability to increase my concentration is increased when my schedule is busier. I found out that blocking out 2 hour blocks for certain tasks led to decrease productivity because there is no way I am ever going to be able to focus for 120 mins. Rather, breaking everything up into smaller time blocks usually less than one hour (see below) leads to increased productivity. Also hearing the alarm sound prompting me to move on to the next task is usually a welcomed nudge.


“Focus cycle” is a term I made up and I define it as the amount of time you are able to solely focus on a single task before your mind wanders for good. In reality, you will get interrupted by multiple thoughts during this period but eventually your will lose concentration and your mind will wander for good. This number is different for everyone and for some it is 20 mins for others it is 60 mins. You have to determine what your study cycle is? For me it is somewhere between 30 to 40 mins. After that amount of time I am fried and I am ready to be distracted. Think of your focus cycle like the REM/NREM cycles of sleep. It is often more refreshing to wake up during the lighter stage of sleep (NREM). Likewise it is also refreshing to break your concentration at the end of your focus cycle rather than abruptly stopping in the middle of it. My focus/relaxation cycles are usually in 30–40 mins/15 mins. Notice how my focus/relaxation cycles last anywhere between 45 – 55 mins which as you may recall is the average time of each college class or period. That time length was not just chosen haphazardly but I believe it is more than likely the average time of concentration for most adult. Now I know some people who are able to be fully concentrate for 120+ mins but do not be envious these are freaks of nature. Remember the surest path to success is to be consistent with mundane but necessary tasks.




I often reward myself by watching 15 mins of my favorite show. It does however take a lot of discipline to turn off that show after 15 mins. Other times I just listen to music or I get up and dance. Unfortunately, sometimes I just answer emails because breaking out into my favorite dance steps randomly in the library may be frowned upon. My favorite thing to do however is to call my husband or a good friend for a few minutes. I usually get a great conversation and a good laugh and I can resume my work feeling refreshed.


This is a real issue and yes I know you have heard it before and will probably read it on other blog posts but it bears repeating. TURN IT OFF! Or at least turn off the notifications on your phone, your watch, your laptop, your tablet. I used to turn off the notification on just my phone but then I realized that being constantly notified via my laptop was just as bad if not worst. It was getting harder and harder to ignore my daily 3 on Medium and that is just no bueno! I turned off all notifications using my mute button on my devices and this works wonders for me.


Every time you meet a major milestone reward yourself with something fun or something useful that you would not normally splurge on. I just rewarded myself by updating my bedding linen recently. For some this is no big deal but for me this was a real splurge. I saved for a few months and I can’t explain it but I sleep much better now. Activate your mesolimbic pathway (that is the reward pathway in the brain). Get your dopamine levels and endorphins pumping and teach your brain to associate increased CONCENTRATION and PRODUCTIVITY with PLEASURE. Before you know it, you will cultivate and develop the most valuable skill and habit to ensure your success.

Reward pathway

I recognize  that we are all overworkedover exposed and over stimulated today but if you liked this article, consider liking it and sharing it with a friend, family member, colleague, hater or frenemy!

Share your thoughts below, I can’t wait to hear from YOU!

Own your narrative


Britain did this for years. For a long time, most of the world’s history was told from the perspective of the English. The US now plays that role. Rightly or wrongly,  it provides context for the rest of the world from music to movies to politics and science.

Ever wondered who controls your narrative? Is it a parent, a spouse, a friend or an enemy? Is this person alive or dead? Yes, I did say dead, you would be surprised how many people are controlled by the dead. Do you allow your parent’s successes or failures to stunt your growth.

Either way, it is your story and you can choose to have a say how it is written or you can give up control of your narrative either intentionally or unintentionally and miss out on the life you were designed to live.

I want to encourage to you to take the time to share your thoughts with friends, colleagues and even frenemies. 

I recognize  that we are all overworkedover exposed and over stimulated today but if you liked this article, consider liking it and sharing it with a friendfamily member, colleague, hater or frenemy!

Share your thoughts below, I can’t wait to hear from YOU!



“I am just not good at Math”


This is what I tell each and every mentee who tries to make excuses about not being good at Math or Sciences.

Are you considering switching careers but you are worried about having to take science prerequisites? Do you break into a cold sweat anytime you think about Calculus? Well my advice to you is to stop procrastinating and start practicing. At first you will suck at it, then you will suck less and eventually you will get really good. The trick is to not quit before the “really good” part.




Let’s just be honest, planning is boring, tedious, time consuming and just not sexy. It takes insight and foresight to plan. You must take into account strength and weaknesses, timing, age, background, education etc, etc. As you get more and more adept at writing plans, you will quickly become acquainted with the economic term “opportunity cost”. Opportunity cost has been described by economists as “the basic relationship between scarcity and choice”. This principle hones on the concept that the true cost of a good is not what you pay for it but rather it is what you had to forego in order to get that particular good. Here is an illustration from; going for a walk may appear to cost nothing, until you consider the opportunity forgone to use that time earning money. The fundamental problem that economics addresses is how to meet unlimited wants with limited resources. Opportunity cost therefore is an important tenet in answering that question because it probes us to ensure that resources are indeed being used efficiently.

Lets apply this principle to out personal lives, we all have unlimited wants (aka dreams) but we have limited resources such as time, money, intelligence, patience, support etc. Planning allows you to more accurately evaluate the cost of a decision. I remember one of my mentees and she was definitely a procrastinator. She had been taking nursing prerequisite courses for over 3 years and as I listened to her talk on and on about the challenges of taking more than 2 classes a semester and being fixated on getting into a prestigious program which had rejected her multiple times before. I finally got fed up and told her, “I appreciate your perseverance, but just remember that for every year you decide to delay, you are losing on average about $100,000 a year from future earnings”. The true cost of the decision to delay is not just another year, it is the loss of a potential $100,000 in income. It is the time you will lose by having to delay retirement in the future. It is the time you will lose with your family in the future. It is also a loss of the compound interest you will have gotten from savings. Within a year, my mentee got into a nursing program. Not necessarily the program of her choice but definitely got good training and now she works a nurse in her field of choice.

In conclusion, I urge you therefore to view planning as a GPS system. It calculates the time (true cost) of reaching your particular destination (your dream) by taking into account multiple variables such as distance, time of day, traffic, roadblocks, setbacks, accidents, other drivers on the road with you, the topography, the seasons of the year etc. Let’s not be arrogant enough to think that we can free style or way through life. If God himself makes plans, how can we be exempt? I leave you with a quote by William Gibson from The Economist.