The GOB recommended this book to me. I probably wouldn’t have found it on my own. I don’t usually think of myself as a failure. I work hard, I set realistic (some would say wimpy) goals, and I get a lot accomplished.
But this year I have been failing at my goals. I have failed at all my goals, so far, and it is more than halfway through October, so I think it’s a pretty safe bet that this will be a year of failure.
This book is not about how to avoid failing. It’s about how to fail well.
First, we need to change our ideas about failure. Failure isn’t permanent. Unless I quit, I won’t have failed at my goals. I’ll have moved the deadline, but I still can succeed at these goals, even if it takes me a bit longer than I had intended. For the business, delaying our goals for growth while we get all our systems in place and our team settled might even turn out to be better in the long run. I’m not saying it doesn’t matter or that we haven’t made mistakes — obviously we have — but it doesn’t have to be “We failed.” It can be, “We haven’t succeeded at that particular set of goals yet.”
Second, we need to learn from failure. I lost 20 pounds with Balance at the beginning of the year, but since then I’ve just lost and gained the same five pounds. What’s the difference? Essentially, I’m not following through. I don’t go to the gym, I do eat the Evil Six, I don’t even track my eat/move/sleep actions most of the time. The lesson here is that I can succeed at this if I will simply do what I know I should do.
Or, to quote the book, “The common denominator of success lies in forming the habit of doing things that failures don’t like to do.”
Not much of a lesson. It’s pretty rudimentary, isn’t it? But I’ve been thinking about giving up entirely. Since I failed, I figured on some level, I might as well quit trying. Actually, I should just do what I know I need to do. I even know that I can do it, because I did it for several months. It might even get easier with time; if I had actually done what I should have, I would have met my goal by now and would probably have developed new habits.
The book says not to personalize failures — you can fail at something without being a failure. Not an issue for me, actually. It also reminds us to take responsibility. As long as everything is someone else’s fault, or circumstances, or anything but the logical consequences of our actions, we can’t change things. Also not a problem for me.
But we must also take action. We can’t just say, “Oh, here’s why I failed” and continue doing what we’ve done. We can’t keep doing the things that led to failure and hope that somehow it will turn out differently.
It’s an encouraging book, but only if we’re willing to make the effort needed to get past failure, learn from it, and persevere to success.