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Faster you Fail, Faster you Succeed

July 2003
Faster you Fail, Faster you Succeed


Human society conditions us to succeed. Failure is viewed as disgraceful, whereas success is rewarded. So, most of us are afraid to fail. We feel it will hurt our pride and/or jeopardize our jobs and professional growth. We try to avoid or avert failures. Generally there is nothing wrong with this, though it does reflect a distorted view of failure.

As children, failure is a part of our everyday life. While learning to walk as toddlers, we fail many more times than we succeed. As adults we accept this as a process of growth and eventual success. But, as we grow older, we forget that failure is a part of evolved learning. The more successful we are, the less tolerant we are likely to become about our failures and those of others. Such conditioning only curtails further success and growth.

It may sound paradoxical, but in today's world if we must succeed faster, we must also fail faster. Those who fail faster learn quickly from their mistakes, correct them and move on. They are not afraid of failure. They view it as an opportunity to learn and thus they develop a competitive advantage. While some cry over their mistakes, others, who are not afraid to fail, celebrate their failures as milestones to education and growth!

People who do not fail are normally those who take refuge in their past experiences to define their goals and rarely enter the arena of risk-taking, thus totally eliminating the choice of value-addition in their business or personal lives! Those who go by the adage, "Better safe than sorry" are more likely to end up both unsafe and sorry. This is the point Helen Keller makes when she says, "Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing."

It is only when you encourage yourself to choose goals arising from ?imagination' or risk of failure that you really accomplish quantum leaps in your performance! Do not eliminate risk (or failure); simply minimize it by taking the smallest step ? one at a time ? so that you learn, correct and respond. So, go and make failure your goal today if you wish to succeed tomorrow. Illogical as it may sound, that's the only choice you have to create a unique future for yourself. That is the reason why statistically, 85 to 90 per cent of managers and professionals are struggling in their careers or life's endeavors. They want to be ?too safe' and develop a pattern of defense mechanisms that excel in providing reasons rather than results!

Anthony Robbins in his book ?Awaken the Giant Within' defines failure differently too. He believes, as do I, that there is no such thing as failure ? only results. An entrepreneur who files for bankruptcy or a salesman not making a sale is not really a failure, so much as one who has managed an undesirable result. An overweight person has not failed in weight control as much as achieved an undesirable physical state ? a result. When we see failures as results, there is good news, because we can change results by learning from and correcting our mistakes. We can choose to move on and achieve new results. We must, hence, see mistakes as results ? meant to be changed from undesirable to desirable ones, rather than as finality, or an end.

When we view failure as an opportunity to education and growth, it changes our whole perspective. It is not how much we fail that is important, but what we learn from failing faster.

We can follow the ideas mentioned below to fail faster:

1. Spend less time thinking of the past ? go ahead and create a new future.

2. Stop looking for someone or something to blame ? as this slows our learning process.

3. Look for something to change ? when you stop thinking of the past and someone to blame, you will look to change.

So set yourself a goal to fail today and you are well on the way to SUCCESS!

[Mohan Kapur of Leadership Management Inc., is leading expert in performance improvement and strategic development processes for organizations and professionals.He can be reached at 678-357-0055 or mohan_kapur@hotmail.com]

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