Why the key to achieving success lies with your failure

Tips for turning failures into stepping stones, not walls.

Put simply, those who succeed have just failed faster and gotten up quicker, adapting their strategy until they get it right.

When people say ‘I’m terrified of failing’, I’m willing to bet they don’t get anywhere fast. Stuck in paralysing fear of making a bad move. Worried that ‘failure’ means that it’s a time to stop, quit, question their motives and go back to the drawing board for another eternity.

Successful people keep moving forward in the direction of their goal – even if they’re not ready, unskilled or perform badly. They don’t care; they just know that another failure is another lesson and another step closer to success.

Have you set a New Years Resolution for this year? Are there goals and achievements you have wistfully pondered, over a few champagnes during the silly season?

If you are like the 92% of people who set New Years Resolutions or goals in general and fail to achieve said goal, there’s probably a very good reason. The good news is that the dream aint over – that is – until you say it is. 

Successful people get up quicker, dust themselves off and throw themselves into their next attempt until they reach their victorious destination.

In the book 'Art and Fear,' the artists Ted Orland and David Waylon share a story about a ceramics teacher who tried an experiment with his class. The below is an excerpt from this book.

‘The teacher divided the students into two groups. Those sitting on the left side of the studio were to be graded solely on the quantity of their work, while those on the right, solely on the quality. The instructor informed the students in the quantity group that a simple rule would be applied to evaluate their grades: those who produced fifty pounds of pots would get an A, those who produced forty pounds a B, and so on.

For the quality group, the instructor told the students that he would assign a course grade based on the single best piece produced over the duration of the course. So if a student created a first-rate pot on day one of the course and did nothing else for the term, he would still get an A.

When the end of the term arrived and it came to grading time, the instructor made an interesting discovery: the students who created the best work, as judged by technical and artistic sophistication, were the quantity group. While they were busy producing pot after pot, they were experimenting, becoming more adept at working with the clay, and learning from the mistakes on each progressive piece.

In contrast, the students in the quality group carefully planned out each pot and tried to produce refined, flawless work, and so they only worked on a few pieces over the length of the course. Because of their limited practice, they showed little improvement.’

The pottery students show us that quantity and quality are not as mutually exclusive as we might believe – particularly when it comes to bettering ourselves and learning new skills. 

Without ongoing challenge, we don’t change ourselves. What successful people recognise is that the feeling of discomfort, or being afraid or underprepared is EXCITING and means new opportunities to grow and learn (otherwise called, expanding ones comfort zone).

It’s not too late to re-examine your New Years Resolution or create a new, exciting goal for the year. When you do - and I encourage you whole heartedly to set yourself goals – try applying these 3 rules:

1.Get Crystal Clear on what it is you want… Get SPECIFIC
The main reason people don’t achieve their goals is because they are too wishy-washy.“Wanting to get fit” or “losing weight” ISN’T a goal. Running a half marathon by July 31, without stopping - now that's a goal.

2. Fail Faster, Fail Better
Stop beating yourself up and quitting when you fall down. So blooming what if you ate a donut for breakfast! Order a lovely big chicken salad for lunch and get over yourself. You are not a failure – you are a success hunter.

3. Create your own ‘Back on Track’ Strategy for when you inevitably fall over
Keep your goal/s close to hand, get re-inspired and get practical.

Go back to a time when you achieved something inspiring, something you were proud of. Remind yourself, you are a person who can create and achieve something special and it took hard work, determination, sweat and probably a few tears. Was it worth it? For the parents reading this, all you need to do is look at your individual masterpieces (otherwise known as offspring)!

Now you have inspired yourself, go and do something that makes you feel determined, gives you energy and drive. What is that action? It doesn’t have to take a full day – and it’s actually best if it just takes 10-30 mins. Is it watching a TED talk? Is it talking to your favourite friend or mentor?  Is it working out to your favourite music? 

Whatever it is, reset yourself and keep going. Take note of what you learned and fail better next time.

The take away from this post is that you are going to screw up on your way to success. Come to terms with it now, don’t identify yourself with failure itself, it’s just a by-product of your future victories.

Tenar Larsen Roberts

Tenar Larsen Roberts is the Founder & Director of The Lifestylers Co.

The Lifestylers Co (TLC) provides Health and Lifestyle consulting services for companies and individuals across Sydney.TLC is a community of people, brands & products that enable their clients to lead happier, healthier lives with less stress and more time to do good things!
Tenar is a certified Life Coach, a recognised Sports & Exercise Nutrition Coach with Precision Nutrition & holds a Master Trainer Qualification from the Australian Institute of Fitness. Tenar combines her training in the areas of food, movement and mindset to deliver truly holistic, outcome-based solutions.
Find out more about what TLC offers www.thelifestylersco.com or contact Tenar directly tenar@thelifestylersco.com