Learning to Fail Forward

“Most great people have attained their greatest success just one step beyond their greatest failure.

-  Napoleon Hill

“Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail.

-  Ralph Waldo Emerson

“If you’re not failing every now and again, it’s a sign you’re not doing anything very innovative.

- Woody Allen

Learn from your failures

Why do we fail? We fail because, we have not taken the right decisions somewhere; or there is something that is lacking in us, or we do not know the right way to do it. So we fail. But it is better to take a wrong decision and fail rather than not taking a decision at all. So, make an action plan using best of your ability and collecting whatever information you can. Do not wait till you have made a so called perfect fool proof plan. There are no fool proof plans, only fools who believe it is there. So make plan, take a decision and take action.

When you take action two things can happen. Either you succeed or fail. If you succeed the first time (which is unlikely, but if you do by fluke), well congratulations. But, if you do fail, sit back and analyse that why you have failed. Every failure adds up to your experience. You know one more way of how something can not be done. You are more knowledgeable now. Since you have done it you have more information. So as a result you will be able to make a better plan.

Mind it! I am saying a better plan, not the best plan. You make a new plan, and again take action. Again those two things can happen. But do it a third time and fourth, and keep on doing it till you succeed. So, it is simple, every time you fail all you have to do is thank God, that you have learned something, and you will not repeat the same mistake again.

Many times we do not know what we do not know. Failure is a wonderful way for us to learn what we do not know. There may be number of things, skills, soft skills and knowledge that may be necessary for us to succeed. So, after you analyzed your failure, you will find the skills that you require, and then, take action towards acquiring them.

Learn to say next

Rejections are part of life. There is no one in this world who has never been rejected. There is no one who has never failed. So do not start mourning for you have failed or got rejected. Life is too short to mourn at every time you fail and call it quits. So, what you do? Say next and move on!

“Next” is a powerful word. It makes you see forward; it fills you with hope and fresh positive aspiration. There is thought that I love. (I say it is thought as there is no proof for it, but it is still worth believing in). The thought says that everything in this world is counted. The number of times your heart is going to beat is pre-decided, the number of times you are going to breath is counted. And it is true, since no one has breathed more than the number of times destined for him. Similarly the number of times you are going to fail is also counted. When you complete your quota for failure, all you are left with is success. So keep trying, keep taking risk, till you are done with failure. The ‘Next’ time is when you will hit the jackpot.

Play the number Game

I have already sold you the idea that your success is directly proportionate to the number of times you have tried. Each of us has our rate of success, i.e. the number of attempts you have to make to succeed. In the professional world, people often talk about 80-20 theory. The theory says that if you make eighty attempts, you will succeed, twenty times. In fact, this ratio is some what universal. In any work place, 20% of people do 80% of the work, where as rest 20% is done by the 80% of people. 20% of the people control 80% of the wealth in the world, where as rest 80% of people controls only 20%.

Each of us has our own ratio of attempts and success. So, set a goal of number of attempts you will make. Keep a record of all your failed attempts and the ones that brought you some success. Soon you will know your rate, and you will know that how many times you will have to attempt to score a success. The best salespeople in the world use this technique effectively, to improve their sales. We do not know how it works, but we don’t care to know as long as it does. Keep on doing it and you will see that soon your rate will improve, and you will succeed more number of times. In other words success will become a habit with you.

Analyse your success

So, far I have told you only to analyse your failures, as they will give you important information about what you lack; therefore giving you an opportunity to improve on your self. But if you really have decided to fail forward, you must also analyse your successes.

Every time you fail, think of the times when you succeeded. It is impossible that you do not have even a single success to your name. Think about all your success and make a list. They could be as small as getting a ‘A’ grade in your middle school. Now, analyse what you have done to bring about that success. If you think about all those itsy bitsy successes in your life, you will soon realize that what works for you. Just add that ingredient in the plan you made last time, and you will see how your result changes.

Be ready to change vehicles, and take a different route

If success is what you want, do not get obsessed with the vehicle that you feel will take you to your success. One of such vehicle is the profession one chooses to take up. Most of the people take a particular profession because; they feel that the chosen profession can make them a success faster. But it seldom happens. After a time, they feel disillusioned and see themselves going somewhere they do not want to go. (It is another story most people do not even know where they want to go!) But, still they remain stuck to the same profession, year after year and then wish the things will change.

It is very simple. If you keep on doing the same thing, you will keep on getting the same result. So, if the present vehicle is not giving you what you want, dare to change it. Dare to change the route to success if you feel that the present route does not take you there. Yes! Change is difficult, but change also means growth and it is worth making..

Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam wanted to become a Air Force officer before he became a scientist.

Mahatma Gandhi was practicing law before he started working for equality of people and eventually led the peaceful freedom struggle in India.

Ray Kroc, chief executive of McDonald’s, didn’t start out managing a fast-food business. He began his career selling paper products and milkshake stirring machines to restaurants all over the nation.

You will find similar references in history where people made changes in their professions and took detours to achieve success.

Don’t Quit

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will

When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill

When the funds are low and the debts are high

And you want to smile, but you have to sigh

When care is pressing you down a bit

Rest, you must – but don’t you quit

Life is queer with its twists and turns

As everyone of us sometimes learns

And many a failure turns about

When he might have won had he stuck it out

Don’t give up, though the pace seems slow

You might succeed with another blow

Success is failure turned inside out, the silver tint of the clouds of doubt

And you never can tell how close you are, It may be near when it seems so far

So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit

It’s when things seem worst, That you MUST NOT QUIT!

by Quinton Howell

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