On Being Persistent | In-Between the Pages

We seldom take the amount of time we should to think about a failed attempt. Nothing is more brutal in waking us up and bringing us forcefully into being present than a failure. It has a way of just jolting us out of our normal routines and bringing us into fresh approaches to life.

Whether we like it or not, failures serve a wonderful purpose in telling us when to change direction. We just don’t listen to it half the time because we are moving to fast trying to get to the next thing. We don’t look our failures either when things are going well, we just generally keep moving. “If it ain’t broke, then don’t fix it,” is a pretty common state of mind we carry.

When we are aware of it, failure can provide negative feedback we need to be more successful as we move forward. Negative feedback gives you a current approach that isn’t working and is extremely helpful. Seems simple. But if it was, we’d have many more successful people in this world than unsuccessful. We need partice at it and that means more failures. We have to learn through trial and error, not ignore it or write it off.

Most of us change when we “we see the light”. We change when we run into some “heat”. I read a story somewhere (I’ll be paraphrasing this.) about someone who had lost their job and what it taught them using the right way to look at failure:

It was devastating, but it happened to be the best thing that ever happened to me. It forced me to come to grips with my strengths and weaknesses, and to get out of my own head as well as scramble back from a failure.

This happens to major players too when you look back on history:

  • Exxon Valdez broke open off Alaska (1989), there by polluting the coast with millions of gallons of oil, the petroleum industry had to rethink and toughen up many of its safety standards dealing with petroleum transport.
  • The Challenger disaster of (1986) and Columbia (2003) space shuttles caused a similar thing to happen at NASA.
  • We could go way back in history and look at the sinking of the Titanic (1912) led to creation of International Ice Patrol, and legally mandated iceberg reporting.
  • The catastrophic (2004) Indian Ocean Tsunami forced world seismic monitoring authorities to change how they disseminate and share warning information.

Those examples of failures created something better. I know some resulted in deaths and some in environmental disasters that are still felt today. It’s horrible, but what did we learn? If we just complain about the carelessness and tragedy are we really learning from that so it never happens again?

This example of reflection can be used in large natural disasters like the ones above or the smallest like the one about losing a job you loved to do. I learn just as much from my worst races running these past 5 years as I do from my best. There is more for you in your failures than just moving on from it. Let it teach you something. Here’s some questions you can reflect on to get you started:

What is the biggest mistake you might make in your current focus to reach the goal?
What might you learn from it? Write it out in incredible detail, you’ll need it later to validate your learn or how you overcame it if you happen to be successful. The important thing to do, is do it before you start.
What mistakes from your past can you apply to your current situation? Bringing up the past failure in this case as an exercise of reflection is okay to do. Dwelling on it, is not okay. Just keep the perspective and fuel your persistence.

Don’t let failure paralyze you or keep you from learning about how to be better the next time. Learn from it, apply it, and keep it front of mind. There is lots of energy in that learn that can move you to incredible new heights. Even higher than the one you failed at.

Thanks for reading and I hope your week continues to be incredible.

Shawn

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