Why Failure is the Most Important Factor in Success

It can be frustrating and costly when things don’t go the way you want them to.

Because, when you set out to do something, there’s no guarantee that the result you’ll get is the result that you want.

However, you will always get a result or outcome of some kind.

So, when you’re not getting the response that you want, the important thing to recognize is that you need to do something differently.

It’s amazing how often people keep doing the same thing, even when it doesn’t give them what they want.

But equally you’ll never know what you need to do differently until you try doing something.

If you want to be a top performer, you’ve got to take every opportunity to get feedback from others and adapt what you’re doing according to that feedback.

So one of the most important beliefs you can have is that ‘there is no such thing as failure’.

There is always something to learn from whatever outcome you get.  Many of the great achievements and discoveries in history have happened because the people behind them were willing to get it wrong many times before they finally got it right.

One of the best-known examples of this is the commitment Thomas Edison put into making the electric light bulb viable. He didn’t actually invent it but his work did make commercial production possible.

Of the months he spent trying ideas that didn’t work he said:

“I haven’t failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

Edison’s attitude was each of these attempts was a necessary step on the way to getting what he wanted. A lesser person would have given up but he believed in what he was doing and kept on responding to the feedback he was getting until he finally got his desired result.

That’s the kind of attitude you need in order to be successful in business.

Successful business people listen carefully to the response they are getting all the time and then adapt what they are doing to ensure they get a different result.  It is not for nothing that they say ‘feedback is the breakfast of champions.’

You should never think, “I failed.” When you get a different result to what you wanted, you should think, “Great, I’ve learned something new! What can I do to make progress?”

The power of feedback
In business, another way to look at feedback is as a testing mechanism.  Even when you feel that a communication has been successful, you should consider whether another approach might have been even more successful.

In fact, if you are considering making any sort of major change or investment, it is essential to get this kind of feedback before you commit yourself to it too deeply.

Feedback only works, however, if you look for it.  In face-to-face communication, for example, that means you not only have to listen to what people say but you have to carefully watch their body language and facial expressions.

Arguably listening is the most overlooked skill in communication.  The old adage that we have two eyes, two ears and one mouth and that we should use them in that proportion has a great deal to commend it.  Yet so many people are inclined to speak first.

In his autobiography, Benjamin Franklin comments:

“In conversation, knowledge is obtained rather by the use of the ears than of the tongue”

His success in a wide range of fields from electricity to publishing and politics suggests he knew a thing or two about knowledge.

Overall, the more willing you are to adapt what you are doing in response to feedback – the greater chance you have of success.

The key point is that when you accept there is no such thing as failure, it removes the excuse for procrastination and perfectionism, which hold many people back from action.

So, to move faster towards the success that you want, consider these two questions:

  • What one thing can you do in the next 24 hours to move you closer to the goal you want?
  • How will you know whether it was successful or if you need to do something different?
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