"Men succeed when they realize that their failures are the preparation for their victories."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
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I have discussed the fact that our education system seems to teach us to think that to be wrong is to be stupid, and this mindset can result in an unwillingness to ‘go for it’ in life, to take a leap of faith that isn’t necessarily guaranteed to succeed. The fact of the matter is that all of us are destined to be wrong – to fail – at some point or another in our lives, whether we take the ‘safe’ path or not. It seems to me that one of the characteristics of good leaders and successful people is to quickly learn from those mistakes. After all, if used correctly, failure can be a powerful motivator. Perhaps we should replace the word "failing" with "learning"?
My question this week was how does one learn from a mistake quickly? Coming off of several recent mistakes personally, I have identified a couple ideas that I have tried to focus on. Try them out and/or tell me what strategies work best for you.
There are two areas where you can help yourself to fail gracefully: Before the mistake ever happens, and afterwards.
Before the mistake ever happens:
1. Decide for yourself what success will look like. This is much easier said than done, but allowing someone else to decide for you will be a dangerous proposition. If you allow society or your parent to tell you that success is making $100,000,000 / year, you may be starting off down the wrong path. You can re-define that goal to "Be content, feel a sense of purpose, travel to 3 new countries per year, and make enough to support that lifestyle." Just an idea. You have to personalize what success is for you.
2. Let’s face it, in getting to any goal, there will be setbacks. Predicting the setbacks can be incredibly useful. If you predict that you may cheat on a diet or mess up, you can learn to forgive yourself for it, and it will also help you to continue with a positive outlook after the setback. Seth Godin's book The Dip is a really quick resource that will help you with this concept!
After the mistake happens:
1. Conserve your energy. It doesn’t do any good to obsess and dwell on a failure, or to waste energy resenting the fact that it happened.
a. To accept a failure, try your hardest to accept full responsibility, even if you don’t think it was your fault. Putting the blame elsewhere wastes your energy that you could be using as motivation towards your next project! This is especially true in sue-happy America... pursuing that law suite wastes energy and resources and leaves you exhausted and uncontented!
b. If you haven’t tried out meditation and controlling your heart rate, after a failure is the perfect time to start. I have found that nothing works like heart rate variability training to allow you to accept a failure and move on with a positive feeling in your heart.
2. Use failure as motivation. Yes, you can get energy from a failure – just make sure you come up with a new goal to put that energy towards.
a. Move towards your new goal by making a routine – a habit – that you implement as quickly as possible in order to conserve the most momentum. Riding a bike uphill is a lot easier if you use the speed from the previous downhill instead of stopping at the bottom of the hill.
3. Surround yourself with the right people. Reach out to your recharge station, your tribe, the people who love you for you.
What do you think? Any ideas to add? Share them please!
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