A Great Way to Succeed is to Fail, Fail then Fail Again
Failure Breeds Success
No one hits a home run every time at bat. Even Tom Brady sometimes does not win the big game. TB 12 may not only not win but he may not even play all that well.
Scoring big in your job or business means that sometimes you will be off-target. This is fine and you should not obsess on your failures. The key is to have them and then to learn from them.
Failure isn’t a catastrophe; it’s an integral part of success. When my partner and I started a new company in 2009 we both brought important ingredients to the start-up planning meetings. He brought technical savvy and know-how. I brought knowledge of all the failed attempts I had made (over the course of many years – failure after failure) to solve the problem. The results of my failed experiments helped us to decide what to design and implement. We still do experiments today and when we fail (and we do) we learn and improve as a result.
This concept of failing to improve is powered by the technology sector of our economy. The technology sector has a distinct think-test-fail-move forward mentality. In my 20’s and 30’s I worked in the technology sector (semiconductors) and failure analysis was a big part of the development effort. We made things fail on purpose and then analyzed how to make improvements. Failure was part of the path to success and it was important to fail fast and learn fast.
Social media can also increase the anxiety level about failure. On facebook we can learn about each others successes but we may also learn about “failures” (we can immediately learn about your single status or your layoff). To be successful we cannot let failure defeat us. We need to fail forward – happily, smartly and successfully.
I offer some advice.
1. Take Control
Own your failure. Do not look to blame it one someone or something else. Do not play the victim. Acknowledge your failure, acknowledge the pain and realize you cannot change the past and move forward.
Control the situation do not let it control you.
2. Get Comfortable with Failure
You’re smart; you’re competent; you have had successes in your life; you have earned the right to fail. Give yourself permission to fail every now and then. The objective is to make sure you try. Do not let the fear of failure defeat you.
3. Replay the Failure – Positively
Contemplate what happened in an organized manner. Be rational about it. Do not be defensive and spend time trying to determine how you could have done better. View the failure as a process rather than an event and use the Japanese philosophy of Kaizen which means to change for the best and continuous improvement. The Japanese feel that if you can get the process right then the outcome will be what you want (automatically). I suggest that you examine the process carefully and systematically to decide what part of the process could have been improved as you move forward.
4. Be A Spin-Doctor
Be a bit of a spin-doctor inside your head. Do not use self-pity. Do not beat yourself up. The more you dwell negatively on the failure the less you will more forward from it.
If you lose your job and in the next interview you decide to bash the company when they ask you why (and you know they will ask) then I can say with high confidence that you will not get the new job with that interview approach.
Learn the positives from the failure and set these positive concepts in your mind. Again, the idea is to fail forward.
5. Push Outside Your Comfort Zone
If failure pushes you back into your comfort zone then this may be fine – for a while. However, to grow and learn you need to move forward and extend outside of your comfort zone. If you dwell negatively on failure then you may stop challenging yourself. Continue to pus forward and challenge the status quo.
This past November I started a new workout program. It involves less weight (on the bar and dumbbells) and higher reps and at a much faster pace than the way I had been working out before. At first it was difficult and I felt like I was failing. However, rationally I really knew that all I was doing was working outside my comfort zone. I became inspired to push harder and the workouts I was struggling with in November – now 3 months later – are a pleasure and motivation to do even more.
6. Look At Your Talent Inventory
Do not define yourself too narrowly. You and your company have a multitude of talents. Perhaps you are good at marketing and enjoy public speaking and teaching. If you lose your job in marketing then perhaps you can focus on teaching public speaking. Who knows it may launch a new career.
If you are a great copywriter and are also an expert a making cheese then and you lose your copywriting job then you can combine your writing and cheese-making skills to produce best-in-class cheese-making blog and monetize it for a nice second income.
A big part of online success is related to the value and the success of your Content Marketing. It you want to learn more about how to succeed in 2014 with Content Marketing then I invite you to review any or all of our Content Marketing Tutorials.