What do you do with a failed attempt?
When we’re stretching to do something bigger or more significant than we’ve done before, it is easy to start with a failed attempt. In fact, it’s quite rare to actually get it right on the first attempt.
So if we are to succeed in achieving more, inevitably we’re going to be faced with the choice of how we view an attempt that didn’t give the result we wanted. The more I’ve looked at this, the more it is evident that success is not based on just getting it right, but how we respond when we get it wrong.
Thomas Edison, whose achievements included inventing the world’s first working light bulb, once said “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
There are plenty of ways we can look at setbacks, but as Dr John Demartini puts it, we need to choose whether it’s in the way or on the way. The likes of Thomas Edison were obviously of the conviction that things that didn’t work were on the way to something that would.
To give a tangible illustration of this, if the attempt was played out on a screen like a computer game, what text do we have programmed for an unsuccessful attempt, do we have
- Mission failed, dream -1, or
- Try again, experience + 1
The reason you need at least one failed attempt
In many cases, there are some very good reasons why we need to fail a few times before we succeed. Some of the reasons include:
- Failure highlights design/method faults (even your most successful software will likely have updates to continue the process of ‘bug fixes’)
- Failure refines motive and focus, thus reducing long term inefficiency
- Failure improves strength and persistence
- Failure helps sort out who your real friends are – after 25 attempts, the person saying “get back up, you can do this” is someone worth calling friend.
- Failure improves the story and inspires others – We all love the underdog. Tell me about the person who overcame something any day and I will be encouraged to do better today.
- Failure reduces the competition – the greater the endeavor, the more likely you are to find people who gave it a go and then gave up… why not be the one who kept at it
- Failure makes you take another look – maybe that’s how you find this article, maybe failure will make you look for another market, another publisher, another colleague, investor, etc. Maybe you just needed to get to the point where a different perspective would give the breakthrough to get the job done.
- Failure makes you ask new questions – similar to the last one, but if you need new answers, ask new questions (Joel Holm has some brilliant resource/thoughts on this – particularly in areas of community engagement. Highly recommend checking out his books/podcasts, etc)
There are of course, many things we can learn from failure… however, there is only one key choice. Will we go again?
Why not take the experience +1 and go again?
So, I hope you have something big you’re reaching for. I trust this finds you giving it a go, about to give it a go… or perhaps another go.
All the best with every attempt and the valuable insights you’ll gain along the way