How to handle failure...

25 replies
I am currently in the process of expanding my comfort zone by taking part in an improvisation acting course. I have never done anything like this before and even as I took part in the first session I could sense myself saying "what the hell am I doing". However what made it a whole lot easier was the teacher setting a frame around the whole experience by saying failure is expected and learning could not possibly take place without us failing frequently throughout the course.

This attitude was similar to what I saw when I watched a documentary on the art of stand-up comedy. Before a comic begins their tour they will play to a small audience and 'test out' their new routine before they unleash it on a bigger audience. The intent behind this is to find out what jokes do well and more importantly which ones bomb, not so they can descend into an orgy of drugs and depression, but so they can tweak or discard completely the joke before it really matters.

It is amazing that, as humans, we have such an adverse reaction to the notion of failure. One possible reason is we place so much of an emotional stack on the outcome, when we fail on the process, our outcome starts to feel further away. Bill Gates once said we overestimate what we can do in a week and underestimate what we can do in a year. Whilst we are all highly ambitious business people, it wouldn't be hard to find someone who stops after the first part of that statement; after overestimating our capabilities, we decide it wasn't meant to be and focus our efforts elsewhere.

Tim Harford in his book Adapt argues that the key to success is not to be headstrong towards a chosen path, despite all signs suggesting it's a sinking ship. Tim suggests the real key to success is to a continual process of trial and error until you reach your outcome. It is the ability to adapt to failure that promotes longevity in business rather than spending time justifying your actions that have caused you to fail.

So how could you learn to handle failure so it's a blip rather than game over?

Accept

The moment you accept failure is the moment you can do something about it. It is when you bury your head in the sand and continue down the doomed path that problems mount that become too big to resolve. There were plenty of signs the model that Lehman Brothers were following was flawed, however when it was accepted the problem was too big to solve. To accept failure is to let go of ego (especially if it was your idea that failed) and understand this failure is not going to define you, it is part of the process.

Have your 24 hours of despair

I remember reading that whenever Jennifer Aniston experiences a break up or a bad movie she allows herself 24hrs to whine and feel sorry for herself. After 24 hours she doesn't revisit that negative emotion again. This is an important aspect of handling failure; having a coping mechanism in place that allows you the time to experience the inevitable emotion of disappointment, but then lets you move on to the process of tweaking your approach.

Where is the learning


If you failed, something happened. You had a plan and it didn't go according to the plan. What was it? Plane crashes are very rare; there is more chance of having an accident crossing the road than a plane crash. However when there is a crash, they don't say 'well it doesn't happen all the time does it'. No, No, they investigate what happened so they are able to reduce the likelihood of it happening again.

What did you learn from the failure? What needs to be altered and reassessed so this situation doesn't happen again? This stage is best done 'when the dust has settled' and you have had your 24 hours of despair.

Failure doesn't have to mean give up; it just means something happened and the decision to give up completely is one that cannot be taken lightly when you are in business or even when learning a new skill.
#failed #failure #handle #internet marketing
  • Profile picture of the author Mary Wilhite
    Originally Posted by AaronMorton View Post

    Bill Gates once said we overestimate what we can do in a week and underestimate what we can do in a year.
    I like this.

    If you can write 400 words a day for 360 days, you would have written a medium sized book in one year. Ideally you can a publish a book a year-that's how we underestimate what we can do in a year.
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  • Profile picture of the author abugah
    Poor childhood conditioning and the pressure of society makes people view failure as unacceptable. Yet society could never advance an inch without several failures.

    Not many bother to know how many failures Walmart or Asda or Google experienced before they arrived where they are today.

    Most people when they meet a 'successful' person will either ask for a job or handouts. Not many bother to find out the inside story of their success.

    As long as people are driven by external values, they will consider failure as bad and unacceptable.
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  • Profile picture of the author SanjeevM
    Originally Posted by AaronMorton View Post

    It is amazing that, as humans, we have such an adverse reaction to the notion of failure.
    This is quite true. Fear of failure is what stops many of us in our tracks.

    Even if we are unable to directly wipe out the fear, we could still take action that leads us towards our goals. It's useful to remember that failure is just one type of result. A result we can learn from to do better next time.

    Good luck with your efforts.

    Sanjeev
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  • Profile picture of the author azjoemartin
    Originally Posted by AaronMorton View Post

    It is amazing that, as humans, we have such an adverse reaction to the notion of failure. One possible reason is we place so much of an emotional stack on the outcome, when we fail on the process, our outcome starts to feel further away.
    Nice post and how true.

    I believe, as the saying goes, "Failure is getting up one more time than we fall".

    One of the top, if not THE top, U.S. basketball players of all time, had this to say about failure...

    "I've missed more than 9,000 shots in my career.

    I've lost almost 300 games.

    26 times I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed.

    I've failed over and over and over again in my life...and that is why I succeed."

    Do you know who said this?

    Hint: Initials are MJ...

    Thanks for sharing and good luck with your comedy!
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  • Profile picture of the author AaronMorton
    @SanjeevM The answer is centred around state management. Fear is a state and very rarely is it useful outside of the quality of hightening your senses.

    The people who experience fear but do whatever they want to do anyway are the ones who frame it in their mind differently so they change into a more resourceful state; a state where action CAN occur.

    Aaron Morton
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  • Profile picture of the author Anthony707
    I have always liked this quote below because I think it's quote true to many who gave up something when they were so close to success. Often the difference between success and failure is only a very fine distinction.

    here's the quote.....

    People in their handlings of affairs often fail when they are about to succeed. If one remains as careful at the end as he was at the beginning, there will be no failure.

    Lao Tzu
    Signature

    “Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results.”
    ― Albert Einstein

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  • Profile picture of the author Jeremiah L
    The best way to handle faillure is to not permit one self a wrong doing.
    I ask myself if this has to be my last move, would I regret it? Would I be ashamed?
    Since then I live with no fear.
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    • Profile picture of the author Anthony707
      Originally Posted by Jeremiah L View Post

      The best way to handle faillure is to not permit one self a wrong doing.
      I ask myself if this has to be my last move, would I regret it? Would I be ashamed?
      Since then I live with no fear.
      Hey there Jeremiah,

      Whilst I agree we should always try not to do wrong in life, I see trying to 'never fail online' can be negative because it means people would only try "safe" things which can actually them back from success.

      For example, when I first started out online with Google AdWords in 2004 after attending a Frank Kern / Ed Dale conference, I felt well out of my comfort zone and felt somewhat skeptical but decided to give it a go. I did many things wrong at the start but rather than viewing these as failures, I viewed them as feedback and altered what I was doing to achieve the result. Long story short, I was earning enough money online within 10 weeks to leave my full time job and I have remained full time on the internet ever since.


      Anthony Robbins summed it up perfectly - "There are no failures, only results".
      Signature

      “Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results.”
      ― Albert Einstein

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  • Profile picture of the author michaelcorvin
    I am doing something very similar. My fiance is one of the most fun and outgoing people I have ever met..Everyone loves her. Me, many friends but I mainly work, work, work...

    She is an amazing dancer...So I am taking Salsa lessons to break myself out of my comfort zone. And it has really helped. I realize by breaking past my fears that I am much more outgoing and fun in public and enjoying life at a new level.

    Michael
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  • Profile picture of the author michaelcorvin
    ...And speaking of F.E.A.R...

    False
    Evidence
    Appearing
    Real

    ...Old cliche but absolutely true. I can tell you from experience that most of the time we worry and fear mostly what is in our own minds.

    One of my favorite quotes by Mark Twain:

    "In my life I have known many troubles...and most of them never happened."

    Michael Corvin
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  • Profile picture of the author NicoRoth
    I grew up in a household that failure was unacceptable, it wasn't till I grew up and I actually learned that failure is imperative in growth, mentally or physically. The best way to look at "failure" is where you screwed up and how it can be avoided, also understanding that what caused you to fail isn't necessarily the wrong method, just wrong in that distinct situation.

    "I don't lose, for even in defeat there is a valuable lesson learned, so it evens it up for me"
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  • Profile picture of the author travlinguy
    Like anything else, failure is one of those abstract nouns we tend do make too much of. I heard a quote a long time ago that became my rule on the topic: "There is no failure, there's only learning.

    So if something doesn't go your way step back and look at it and as long as you take even the smallest lesson from it you haven't failed.
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    • Profile picture of the author MissTerraK
      Right travlinguy!

      I think failure is really a mindset we ourselves have constructed in our own minds. It can be negative or positive depending on how we view it.

      Does the word failure have a negative connotation to a person or something different?

      As for me, when I try something that ends up to be an utter flop, I just say to myself, "Terra, you are a freakin' genius! You've just discovered yet another method that you should not use!" :p

      Terra
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  • Profile picture of the author accendo
    Phillip Adams once said "Unless you're willing to have a go, fail miserably, and have another go, success won't happen."

    Are You Willing to Fail in Order to Succeed

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  • Profile picture of the author Simon Ashari
    Never regretted a failure in my life.

    What I have regretted are those times which cause me to ask myself "what if...?"

    That is the worst kind of question to be asking yourself.
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  • Profile picture of the author hoosieraffiliate
    Failure is not when you MISS the mark.
    Failure is when you QUIT after you miss the mark,
    or when you do not TRY to hit the mark at all.
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    “Motivation is not some overwhelming force that causes you to act… Motivation is the desire to act on a plan that is well formed, and sufficiently rewarding. Therefore, if you fail to act, you either don’t have faith in your plan, or do not feel that the reward is worth the effort.”
    My WSO: Motivation Mastery
    http://motivationmastery.co

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  • Profile picture of the author blackbelt
    Failure is a decision. So is success. Either way learn from it! I had many failures (learning experiences) that has made me a success.
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    Joe's Done It Again I'm excited to guide those who are ready to earn $100-$500 cash daily. http://cashdonerite.com
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  • Profile picture of the author MaxBounty
    Failure is not an unexpected (maybe negatively-perceived) outcome. Failure is not learning from that unexpected result and moving forward.
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    Learn more about our $1000 bonus for new affiliates! www.MaxBounty.com
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  • The worst thing about failure is it takes away your motivation to try again. We all fail sometimes. It doesn't get better as you get older, ...
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    • Profile picture of the author curly sue
      pick your self up and fight again and again

      Thomas Eddison, the guy who discovered the bulb said;
      'Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.'
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  • Profile picture of the author natebunger
    Another great quote from Thomas Edison which I also posted in another thread: “I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.” It will depend how we perceive failure.
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  • Profile picture of the author Raydal
    I know a popular psychologist who teaches that one of the biggest lessons
    parents need to teach their children is in allowing them to fail. This prepares
    them for life where they will meet a lot of failure. We can't always succeed
    in EVERYTHING that we do. Nobody likes to fail but the only way to
    avoid this is to stop living. Often the biggest winners in one area fail
    completely in another.

    -Ray Edwards
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