Let me offer a new concept for us to consider regarding failure. My preference for the role of failure is to Fail Faster, Succeed Sooner. In reading Loral Langemeier’s book: Wealth Cycle Investing, she introduced another way to think of failure, Fail Your Way to Success. The goal here is that (a) if you want to succeed, you have to be willing to fail, and (b) if you take action, you have to realize that risk and failure is part of taking action. We don’t learn to walk perfectly the first time; we simply pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and start all over again. The more we take action, the higher probability of success. We have to simply keep getting up.
For some, failure is permanent. They try a few attempts, do not succeed and then they stop trying. Think of Edison and the light bulb. Edison found 997 ways how NOT to build a light bulb—eventually 998 was the one that succeeded. How many of us would have stopped trying at some point? Attempt 5? Attempt 205? Attempt 995? Greg Reid has a wonderful book: 3 Feet from Gold, where the premise is simply that sometimes we quit far too soon, where success might have been ours had we simply kept going.
As a recovering perfectionist, I didn’t learn how to fail until very late. I was Salutatorian in junior high and Valedictorian in High School. If I couldn’t do something (elements of Geometry, Physics, and Calculus quickly come to mind!) I found a tutor. I had a goal in mind and I found ways to achieve it. My first year of college was quite rocky because it was fraught with many failures. The biggest lesson was that I had to learn to fail. For me, up to that point I subscribed to the philosophy that Failure Wasn’t an Option. It was quite a few years later during my doctoral journey where I solidified this need to understand and integrate failure into my success strategy. Failure was the ONLY option if I wanted to succeed; I simply had to learn to fail faster to succeed sooner. The way I learned was by finding mentors and coaches to help shorten my learning curve. I didn’t have to know all the answers; I simply had to find others who did.
My advice is to incorporate both of these paths, fail your way to success by failing faster to succeed sooner. Find others to help shorten your learning curve. No need to invent a wheel that has already been invented my friend.
My best to your continued success. In the words of Niki—Just Do it!
Dr. Cheryl Lentz