Fail Your Way To Success
“It doesn’t matter whether your objectives are in the area of art, business, ministry, sports or relationships, the only way you can get ahead is to fail early, fail often and fail forward.” John C. Maxwell
I’ll bet you’re looking at that statement and thinking “what tha….! Is he saying that failing is good? YEP! I am. We have an all too costly fear of failure and yet, failure is the very thing that beckons success into our lives. It is through failure that we learn. Think back to your school days and ask yourself; “how many times did I fail, get corrected and then learn the answer?” EVERY day. Without failing there is no learning and without learning we aren’t growing and if there is no growth then we are dead.
“In science, mistakes always precede the truth.” Horace Walpole
It is an oft quoted story that Thomas Edison failed to work out how to make a light bulb work many times. Some stories say 1,000 times and some say 10,000 times, but the reality is in his words when he said; “I haven’t failed 1,000 times (10,000 times) to make a light bulb at all. In fact I’ve succeeded that many times in discovering how NOT to make a light bulb.” To him every failure was a step in the journey to discovering the method to make a light bulb work.
First Edison light bulb.
Success, or achievement, is a process and not a single action. You don’t suddenly arrive at an ability, or a place or a success without first travelling the road there. And all journeys have twists and turns and detours but if we persist we eventually get there. Sometimes the tougher the journey, the greater is the reward at the end, and the sweeter the victory.
Often it is the journey that is the more interesting part of the activity. Once we get there we begin looking for the next interesting place or thing to do. Often when we take a wrong turn on a journey, we discover an interesting side road or place or fact or ability that we never knew existed.
“Contrary to popular belief, I consider failure a necessity in business. If you’re not failing at least 5 times a day, you’re probably not doing enough. The more you do, the more you fail. The more you fail the more you learn. The more you learn, the better you get. The operative word here is learn. If you repeat the same mistake two or three times, you are not learning from it. You must learn from your own mistakes and the mistakes of others.” Jim Zabloski – Business Author
The great tool here is to learn to fail forward. By that I mean that every time you make a mistake you learn from it, improve your model, do it again and succeed and then move on to the next action. If you don’t, you are doomed to fail at the same thing time and time again.
“Have I learned anything from my mistakes? Oh yes. Absolutely! I have learned from my mistakes and I am certain that I can repeat them exactly!” Peter Cook and Dudley Moore: The Frog and Peach Restaurant skit.
The truth is that you are going to fail, make mistakes and do things less than perfectly. But that mustn’t keep you from your task. Life is not only a risk but it is supposed to be a risk. If it isn’t then you don’t have anything in your life worth working for.
“Your dreams must make you sweat a bit.”
The reality is that everything in life is risky. If you want to avoid all risk of danger, failing or making a mistake, then don’t do any of the following:
Don’t drive an automobile – they cause 20% of all accidents.
Don’t travel by air, rail or water – 16% of all accidents result from these activities.
Don’t walk in the street – 15% of all accidents happen there.
Don’t stay at home – 17% of all accidents occur there too.
Risk is everywhere and failure is also not only everywhere but it should be embraced.
I will leave you with some choice words from some of my “friends”:
The process of achievement comes through repeated failures and the constant struggle to climb to a higher level. John C. Maxwell
The person interested in success has to view failure as a healthy, inevitable part of the process of getting to the top. Dr. Joyce Brothers
A failure is a man who blundered, but is not able to cash in on the experience. Elbert Hubbard
While one person hesitates because he feels inferior, the other is busy making mistakes and becoming superior. Henry C. Link