“To double your success rate, double your failure rate.” – Tom Watson, Sr., founder of IBM
Have you heard this quote before? How, if at all, did it affect you and your actions?
The quote is brilliant, yet so simple that the power it holds is often overlooked. Words like success and failure have become such common clichés in today’s personal development circles that they have almost lost their meaning.
Because we have all heard we are likely afraid of success or afraid of failing, many of us get confused and don’t even know where to start when it comes to goal-setting, business planning and general ‘what I want from life’ considerations. We read self-help books or go to seminars, but all the platitudes go in one ear and out the other, because we attach no meaning to them personally.
It is indeed fear which holds us back, although we may mask it with apathy, depression or other destructive emotions.
Let’s take the emotion out of the equation, and look at some examples of people doubling their failure rate in order to increase their successes.
o When a child is introduced to a new sport, there is often a mix of emotions accompanying the activity. There are new friends to meet, which may mean terror or pleasure depending on the child’s associations. There are new skills to learn and master, which will entail work and perseverance. As in many situations faced throughout life, there are now choices to be made about how we feel when we are ‘not good’ at something. The child, with guidance, can choose to forget what everyone else thinks and focus on improving the skills required for this new sport. Don’t know how to hit a baseball out of the park? The ONLY way to learn that is to try – adjust your stance, fine tune how you hold the bat – until you can. Without the willingness to fail, ie. swing and miss, the skill of hitting effectively will never be developed. In this case, the faster and more frequently that child is willing to learn what doesn’t work, the closer he or she gets to being an all-star hitter.
o Think of all the new ideas and products which never hit the shelf. Companies and inventors must be willing to try out their ideas and products on people before they are ‘perfect,’ – otherwise they will never see success with a finished, refined item or service. In order to save time and money, requesting feedback at each stage of design and planning is essential.
o Many people, in their personal lives, feel they must be perfect before they present themselves to the public. They must be rich before they deserve a mentor; they must be relatively in shape before they hire a personal trainer (we wouldn’t want to be embarrassed!), they must have seamless social skills in order to attend fantastic parties and mingle well. This is, of course, a catch-22, and none of us live in a vacuum. Without being willing to learn and grow from our experiences, to take valued feedback and adjust our actions accordingly, we stay stagnant and all we hear is our own thought loops going around and around in our heads. Without the feedback that comes from others, we cannot improve what we are offering to the world, and we cannot succeed in our endeavors.
By removing our need to be perfect in the eyes of others, we can rapidly improve our results in life. The fact is that others don’t think about us nearly as much as we imagine, and when they do there is no doubt they think differently than whatever it is we hope they say to themselves. How can we ever know what others are thinking, and why should it matter to us anyway? Perhaps if you hope your neighbor thinks ‘Oh, there’s that great gal who has it all together…boy, she is so nice, too!’ your neighbor is really thinking ‘Geez, that woman thinks she’s so hot! I can’t stand bumping into her…it just makes me feel bad,’ or ‘Hmmm….I need to remember to pick up milk on the way home (note the absence of any thoughts whatsoever about YOU).’
As a wise woman once said, what other people think of us is none of our business! Forget what everyone else is doing, pick a goal that lights you up and focus on bringing it to fruition, no matter what it takes. Then do it again. This is the path to a life of mastery, fulfillment and consciously chosen happiness.
Shauna Arthurs is an author (try the new instantly downloadable e-book 30 Days to Wealth), business owner and creator of a network of websites dedicated to helping you live your dreams, including IncreasingVelocity.com and BreathingProsperity.com [http://blog.breathingprosperity.com]
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