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The Boomer Bulletin - 2013
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Success Through Failure

Posted By Eric Hunt, Tuesday, May 14, 2013

I am hard pressed to find a successful individual in any field without any examples of failures along their journey.  One common theme with successful people is that they were able to overcome their failures and grow from them.  Whether it is Abraham Lincoln losing elections, Donald Trump’s companies going bankrupt or Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls losing to the Detroit Pistons in the NBA playoffs, history is full of great examples of failures ultimately leading to success.

”Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement” - C.S. Lewis   

This is one of my favorite quotes.  I have made seemingly endless mistakes over the years in life and my career.  My hope is that my mistakes are leading me to greater success and the achievement of my goals.  

Overcoming the obstacle of one’s failures can be daunting and at times overwhelming.  Deep thought and an introspective view are necessary ingredients to moving forward.  Although I continue to struggle with some of my past failures, I work hard to turn them into positives.  There are four strategies I utilize to accomplish this:  

  1. Have the courage to fail – build confidence from the understanding that failures happen, but they won’t define you unless you let them!
  2. Identify failures and breakdown core causes – prevent repeat mistakes by understanding steps that led to the failure and how to avoid them in the future.
  3. Learn from the mistakes of others – increase your wisdom by studying and understanding what your peers have failed at.  You don’t need to re-create the wheel, but it is great to see if someone else has built it wrong.  
  4. Focus on small wins instead of large failures – create momentum through small wins that lead to larger success.  Understand why you fail when you do, but put the energy into creating small wins that overshadow failures.  

Try these four simple exercises that encompass all four strategies above:

  1. Create a "Success through Failure” statement.  My example is, "I will not be afraid to fail because through my failure I will succeed!” 
  2. Look at a recent project or life event where you have failed.  Maybe it is a missed project deadline or a financial issue.  Come up with the top 3 to 5 things that caused you to fail.  Write them down and repeat them.  You have identified the core causes of your failure here, now you can work hard to not repeat them on the next project or life event.
  3. Talk to your peers in your field or company about the things you are working on or planning to do.  Having a peer group is a powerful way to prevent your own mistakes because often times, someone has already made mistakes that you can learn from.  Trust is critical. Be ready and willing to share your own stories.
  4. Make a list of incremental goals for a large project or large goal.  Too often people get bogged down concentrating on their and can’t regain focus on moving forward with the next project.  By breaking down the project or goal, you can start working on smaller successes that can happen more quickly. This allows you to start building wins on top of each other and makes it easier to avoid a larger failure.

Failing isn’t a bad thing when you understand why it happened and how it can positively move you forward.  Don’t be afraid of it as it can be a powerful tool for your success.

"Go on failing. Go on. Only next time, try to fail better!” – Samuel Beckett

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