Former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Winston Churchill once said: “Success is not final; failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” The will to try, the courage to set the big hairy audacious goals; even when you don’t ultimately achieve the eventual goal, what you learn in the process is more important than the goal itself. Microsoft founder Bill Gate once quipped “Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.”
I have been averaging 90 hours of exercising in the gym in the past couple of months. I start my day with an hour of basketball shooting, swimming and running or weight lifting. Consistent exercising is one of the best analogies for understanding the power of failing. For example, I just recently incorporated basketball shooting into my morning exercise routine, and it can be very frustrating when you are not hitting the basket. Even the greatest players like Micheal Jordan miss a lot of their shots. According to official NBA stats, the shooting average of the best players is around 44%.
We learn more from our failures than our successes. Inventor Thomas Edison is said to have observed on his path to inventing the early versions of the electric bulb: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
While growing up, the founder of Spank Sara Blakley’s dad used to ask her and her brother regularly at the dinner table, “What did you fail at today?” He celebrates their failures and would be disappointed if they did not have something they failed at that week. The ritual redefined Sara’s definition of failure: Failure became ‘not trying” versus the outcome.
“So many people don’t take risks for fear of failure, they don’t start the business, they don’t go create the art they want to create, or they don’t go to try out to be in the play, or whatever it is, for fear of failure.” Once you redefine that for yourself and realize that failure is just not trying, then life opens to you in many ways.
Sara’s dad used to encourage her by telling her, “Anytime something didn’t go the way she expected it to, or maybe she got embarrassed by a situation.” Write down where the hidden gift was and what she got out of it. That practice made Sara realize that in everything, there was some amazing nugget that she wouldn’t have wanted to pass up.
To encourage her team to embrace failing more often, Sara often brought up her failures in front of the team. She calls them the “oops” of Spanx; some of them are the “oops” throughout the history of Spanx, and some of them are recent “oops” she tried. Sara advises that if there is a “oop” or failure in your life, if you learn from it and if you can laugh about it, then it’s all worth it.
In his 2010 presentation about the importance of failure, CD Baby founder Derek Sivers shared three important reasons to fail: effective learning, growth mindset, and quality through experimentation. He noted the three important reasons why you need to fail. 1
- It’s required for learning.
- It keeps you in the growth mindset.
- It reminds you that everything is just an experiment.
If you’re not failing, you’re not learning, But it would be a shame for you to think these are just little academic experiments. Deliberate practice to improve a skill is a fact. It’s a neurological reality. If you keep doing what you’re good at, you’re coasting; you’ve plateaued. You need to make a real effort to fail more.
If you are not failing, you are not learning.
You build muscles in a gym by doing something a little out of your capability so that the tiny little muscle fibres actually tear. Then as they repair themselves, they rebuild a little stronger and a little bigger to adapt. That’s why they say, “No pain, no gain”, and it’s the same with the brain.
To learn effectively, make mistakes pay attention to those mistakes. Mistakes teach better preparation. Doing what you know is fun but doesn’t improve you.
The most effective way to improve at anything is to find what you’re not good at. Find the painful, the difficult activities that will make you better, then do those things over and over again until you’ve got it.
2. Growth Mindset
Fixed Mindset: Talent is innate
People with a fixed mindset think that talent comes from an imagined level of ability. They think, “I’m good at this” or “I’m not good at this”. They see it as fixed that you either are or you aren’t. Some people are born artists. Some people are born leaders. Some people are just good with numbers, and some aren’t.
Growth Mindset: Anyone can master anything
People with a growth mindset think that with hard work, anyone can master anything. They think I got it because I worked hard at it. They see the starting point is moot. It doesn’t matter if someone took to a skill a little more naturally at a young age. Absolutely anyone can catch up and surpass the so-called naturals.
There was a two-part test given to a bunch of students. The first part was intentionally easy and the second part was impossibly hard. So it created a situation of initial encouragement, then certain failure. After each person failed the test, they were asked what they planned to do before the next test. Those with the growth mindset said they would study harder for the next test.
Everything we do is just one option. Everything is an experiment. There is no such thing as failure if everything is just an experiment.
A ceramics teacher announced on opening day that he was dividing the class into two groups. Everyone on the left side only needed to make one pot all semester, and that one pot would be graded on its perfection. Everyone on the right side would be graded only by weight. He said, “I don’t care what you make on the final day, I’m going to bring in my bathroom scale, and we’re just going to weigh it. Over 50 pounds of pots gets you and A. Over 40 pounds gets you a B. Thirty pounds a C, et cetera. I don’t even care what it is. I’m not even going to look at it. Just weigh it. Go.”
At the end of the semester, there was a surprising result. The works of the highest quality when an outside observer was watching at the end of the class were all the ones that were made by the quantity group. Those that were being judged only on weight. It seems that while this quantity group was busy just churning out piles of work and learning from their mistakes. The quality group, the one that was being judged just on one part, had sat there theorizing about perfection and in the end had nothing but grandiose theories and one mediocre part.
- Daily Calm with Tamara Levitt: Our Future World (World Environment Day)
- Mindfulness and our environment: Our world can sometimes convince us that it exists for us to consume, but behind our consumption is a fragile ecology.
- As we choose food, eating, shopping and transportation throughout the day, pause and reflect on each action.
- Mindfulness is about being present in each moment. It is about a deeper awareness of our thoughts, emotions, and actions.
- Daily Jay with Jay Shetty: Get What You Need
- Not confusing what you want with what you need.
- Maya Shankar gave up playing the violin due to an injury. Maya found a psychology textbook while cleaning her parents’ basement; she was captivated by what she read in the book. She went on to become an accomplished cognitive psychologist. While the violin was the path Maya wanted, it was not what she needed. She needed to feel enlivened and challenged; ultimately, she discovered that this other path led to meaning and satisfaction. Today, Maya Shankar hosts a popular podcast: A Slight Change of Plans (Apple Best Show of the Year 2021)
- As much as you want that dream to come true, it may not be the dream that is meant for you. Search for what is beneath the dream, identify the core values that matter most, and then be open to exploration. When you reach a roadblock while pursuing your passion, remember that there is more than one avenue to your true destination.
- Daily Trip with Jeff Warren: Rock Your Body
- Harry’s, Inc: Andy Katz-Mayfield and Jeff Raider How I Built This with Guy Raz
- 11 Habits That Will Instantly Transform Your Life [SOLO ROUND] EP 1449 | The School of Greatness
- Create a clear, intentional vision and life-fulfilling goal. It leads to spark and direction in your life.
- Have a positive attitude when things go wrong.
- Be committed to service.
- Express gratitude and show appreciation. Gratitude drowns negativity and brings positivity into our lives.
- Create healthy relationships with boundaries. Healthy boundaries provide the foundations for your expectations, behaviour and communication with others.
- Take care of your physical health – Exercise/physical movement.
- The power of breathing. Improve mood, mind reset, and steer your energy in the right direction. Bring awareness to your breath, focus & lengthen your exhale and use a deliberate sigh.
- Sleep more – stick to a sleep schedule, pay attention to your diet and caffeine intake, and create a peaceful environment for your sleep. Sleep Smarter by Shawn Stevenson
- Take responsibility for yourself and make yourself more accountable.
- Learn to cope with tragedy and let go of regret, anger and resentment.
11. Eliminate things that do not make you happy and focus on what makes you happy. Eliminate Bad people, Bad Places, Comparison to others (Jealousy), Overthinking your problems, Instant gratification,
All the best in your quest to get better. Don’t Settle: Live with Passion.