Are you a failure?
Most of us would never answer yes to that question. For sure, none of us would ever want to. But doesn’t the word apply to all of us? Think about it. Almost everyone would agree with the saying that nobody is perfect. Yet when you take the exact same thought and rephrase it to say that we are all failures some of the time, people react much differently.
There is a certain stigma attached to the word “failure”. And very often our disappointment in ourselves for our inability to accomplish something has very little to do with the results we failed to achieve and a whole lot to do with this stigma. We very often let failure become a statement of our self-worth instead of what it really is: one of many steps we need to take in order to succeed. Sometimes we find ourselves so stigmatized by the prospect of failing that we stubbornly refuse to let failure happen, even when that is exactly what we should be doing.
There is a saying in baseball that the best pitchers are those who have no memory. The statement is not literally true, but what it really means is that the best pitchers do not allow their past failures to define them and thus affect their future performance. They do not “remember” any stigma associated with the failures, only the lessons the failures taught them. They know that failure is inevitable and is simply part of the process. Every technology ever invented – bicycles, cars, airplanes, computers – started out as thousands of failed models that didn’t work right but eventually led to the one that did. Without those initial failures, there would have been no ultimate successes.
Those who have learned to put failure in its proper perspective are already leaps and bounds ahead of the pack. But some folks have taken things a step further and not only figured out the best way to view failure but also the best way to manage it. Their philosophy can be summed up in two words: Fail Fast! What that means, simply put, is being able to recognize the difference between being persistent and being stubborn. When something isn’t working out the way you envisioned, don’t be afraid to move on and try a different way. But do it fast—as soon as you can objectively see that it’s not working. Prolonging a particular failure can be like throwing good money after bad. But when you fail fast, you cut your losses. Here are some of the tangible benefits that make failing fast a smart thing to do:
You boost the success cycle. The process of undergoing multiple failures until you finally succeed is something I like to call the “success cycle”. Of course, the number of times we need to fail before we succeed is something we never really know in advance. But whatever
that number is, we are getting one step closer to the ultimate success every time we undergo a legitimate failure. By recognizing the authenticity of a failure and acting on it quickly, we speed up the path to success and give a big boost to our success cycle.
You give yourself more opportunities to learn what doesn’t work. A friend of mine started a new pet grooming business and spent a lot of money on different advertising campaigns, including newspaper ads, flyers, radio clips, cold calls, and online advertisements. Although
most of these avenues proved unfruitful, the exercise itself was invaluable because he learned what didn’t work. After many failures, my friend finally found the right combination of niche advertising targets that boosted his customer base significantly.
You increase your chances of stumbling upon the right approach. Many of the most important breakthroughs in technology and medicine happened by accident. Pacemakers, microwave
ovens, even penicillin, are all great inventions that were stumbled upon by inventors who were actually trying to do other things. By failing fast, you widen the scope of your approaches and increase the chances of discovering something significant – even if it may not have been what you were trying for!
We are all failures. But that is not a bad thing. It is only by failing that we achieve success. And the size of our success is oftentimes related to the speed of our failures. By allowing ourselves to become big fast failures, we very often get one step closer to finding big success.
About the Author
In his role in the self storage industry, Tim Eyre helps customers care for their cherished belongings that must be put in storage. Tim regularly visits his facilities including a Redlands Self Storage center.