Nothing Succeeds Like Failure
A few weeks ago I enjoyed the rare opportunity of having dinner with a self-made billionaire—with the Big B. Yes, he’s on the Forbes’ “richest” list and well known in any circle where money and power matter.
He had some time-tested, results proven success principles to share but the one that most impacted me, above all others, was one I’ve heard a thousand times before: “Fail fast!”
“Fail fast,” is likely the most consistent “success secret” I’ve received in my life. I’m sure you’ve heard it to. I’ve heard it so often that I’m certain I’d become immune to it. I’d hear it and think, “Yep, got it” and move on.
But this night something changed. Perhaps it was the intensity of the message, the vividness of examples, something allowed me to hear the message again, for the first time.
In the case of the evening’s billionaire, we’ll call “Mr. B.” (for the purpose of this post), “fail!” was a major theme—arguably the most fundamental principle to his enormous success. He’s not just not afraid of failing, he actually looks for it, is eager to meet it. For in Mr. B’s mind, the sooner he fails the sooner he can get on succeeding, growing and learning. He’s knows “it’s” not going to be right the first time so why spend cycles on it.
Ironically, a few nights after “dinner with Mr. B,” I was speaking with my “entrepreneurial coach,” CC, and he shared that in his years of working with entrepreneurs, he’s come to recognize what separates successful people from those who struggle to “pass go” is that the later group “fails to fail.” Paralyzed by the fear of failure they don’t allow themselves the freedom to fail—and thus shut themselves off from true success.
This got me to thinking further about the times when I’m most alive in my work, when I’m most productive and effective and hands down it’s always times when I’m putting myself at the greatest real risk of failure. It’s when I’m putting myself out there, doing it live, playing the ball where it lays.
The Myth of Risk Free Success
I’m absolutely convinced that success and failure are intimately connected—you can’t truly have one in the absence of the other. To succeed without failing, or without the risk of failure, is to win the lottery. Certainly a stroke of luck but I imagine it to be less satisfying than winning a late night ping-pong game.
In fact, I’ll go so far as to suggest that success and failure are intrinsically connected—that they are two sides of the same coin. And that ultimately your success—any you have and the level to which you achieve—is directly dependent on your willingness to fail.
So, assuming I’m even partially accurate in my estimation that nothing succeeds like failure, I find myself questioning, “Am I playing all out?” Do I side-step opportunities for full expression and impact to play it safe?
Could my relationship with failure be a magnetic barrier preventing me from the sort of success I am both capable of manifesting and deserving of?
What comes up for you? Are you playing all out or holding back in areas?
How and where in your life do you choose progress over perfection? And where might you be wasting endless cycles in an effort to avoid an invisible demon?
To Your Success @ Full Strength,