How to fail intelligently

fail intelligently

Failure is a core component of our learning process. If we truly want to reach our full potential we should go beyond the concept of embracing failure and we should be learning how to fail intelligently. This means that we accept full responsibility for the failure, learn all of the lessons it affords us and ensures that we don’t make the same mistake twice.

Some of the most successful people in the world will tell you that failure is a precondition to success. A good example is Thomas Edison. He failed no less than 10,000 times to invent the light bulb. He obviously didn’t let that perturb him, instead, he saw it as the 10,000 ways that didn’t work.

Another great example is J.k Rowling who said “Failure is so important. We speak about success all the time. It is the ability to resist failure or use failure that often leads to greater success. I’ve met people who don’t want to try for fear of failing.”

Whilst there is no one rule for how to fail intelligently – it’s entirely relevant to your personal goals and journey – there are certain common characteristics shared by those who know how to fail intelligently.

1. They maintain their confidence and enthusiasm in the face of failure

“Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement.” – C.S. Lewis

Failing doesn’t feel good. However, those who know how to fail intelligently, can maintain their confidence in the face of failure. This is what allows them to keep moving forward whilst their competitors stop. Its a tenacious part of their character that is fueled from failure.

2. They have a long-term goal

People that fail intelligently, don’t fail randomly. They have a long-term vision. They know what they are looking for and failing takes them one step closer to it.

3. They know how to fail in the right way

They fail fast and cheap. They don’t put too much time, money, and energy into something that’s uncertain. Instead they put in the bare minimum, so that they can validate their idea and then move on to the next without too much damage.

4. They see failing as a science experiment

When a failure occurs, they extract everything possible from it. They use it to predict future outcomes and they want to ensure that they don’t make the same mistakes in their next attempt. They see it as the ultimate learning opportunity.

5. They don’t mind tearing up their idea at any point

There are times when a failure will show them that their ideas are, on the wrong track. In this scenario they aren’t afraid of, tearing up their plans and going back to the drawing room. They don’t get trapped by their ego, they simply start again, knowing that they found a valuable lesson.

6. They experiment a lot

People that want to succeed understand that they have to “double their rate of failure”. As being successful means experimenting (and failing) a lot. Experimenting repetitively also allows them to perfect their method of failing intelligently. They have the right processes in place so that failures advance their purpose instead of destroy them. This is what differentiates them from others and this is what allows them to get up in the face of several failing attempts.




How to gently push back at work and encourage a work-life-balance


Work doesn’t have to be a battlefield. We live in a collaborative, forward-thinking society where employees and employers can be happy. It’s possible to get our work done and also have a happy home life. We just need to put the right work relationships in place, with our superiors, to enjoy the work-life-balance possibilities. Work can be a win/win for everyone and here are 4 proven ways on how to gently push back at work and set the tone for a healthy work-life-balance;

1. Clearly, understand the criteria on which you are judged

Are you marked on output or hours logged? The later causes problems for flexible work and may also disadvantage your employer. Encourage open discussions about how you are expected to work and be crystal clear on these points. This obviously helps you to impress your employer but also to open meaningful discussions about how different work practices could provide a win/win for you and your organization. It’s typically much more beneficial for employers and employees if work is judged by output as opposed to hours logged.

2. Create a goals/objectives document

If this document hasn’t been created by your boss, then use your initiative and create it yourself. Set up a meeting with your manager and use the information to create a document clearly outlining employer expectations. This is a document where you’ll list and then track the progress of all your projects, initiatives and key tasks. You’ll use this document during progress review meetings with your manager. It’s a crystal clear benchmark to asses your progress and can help you to make huge leaps of progress in your career. If you meet all of your objectives then it’s much easier for you to negotiate a more flexible working style.

3. Embody your superiors communication style

Establish a positive working relationship by learning about your superiors communication style and preferred method of working and communicating with you. How do they like to receive updates? Do they want weekly, bi-weekly or monthly updates? Once you have the perfect mode of communication than your working relationship is built for success.

4. Schedule progress meetings

If this isn’t already in place work, with your superior to schedule regular review meetings on both your calendars (based on how often your boss prefers to meet). Schedule them on a repeating basis, at least six months into the future. During these meetings, come prepared with an updated Goals and Objectives document and be ready to discuss your progress on each item. During these meetings you might like to request different working times/ flexible work policies – it’s a good idea to discuss how these policies would be a win/win for both you and your employer.

3 easy steps for instant motivation at work

Monday. 9am. You vs computer screen. Motivation = zero. You are most definitely not winning. The thing is, do you care? Maybe not in that moment. But, you will. Here are some tips to get yourself out of that slump and motivated.

3 Easy Steps

Step 1 – incentivise

Think about how great your weekend was. Think about how valuable it is to have a work-life balance. Think about how non-existent your work-life balance will become when you haven’t completed enough work for your upcoming deadline. Think about what will do once you have finished – that beer after work or that extra –  unstressed – hour you could spend with a loved one. Then, think about how the only useful thing you could be doing with your precious time whilst at work, is work.

Step 2 –  reason

Think about why you are at your computer. Yes, there might be a moralistic reason to your work but you also like your salary, don’t you? Imagine life without your salary. Then imagine life with your salary. It’s a quick and simple trick to get those fingers moving.

Step 3 – end game

This can go one of two ways. For this step to work you really do need to like your career. You have studied, trained and/or jumped through hoops of fire to get yourself where you are. If you are unhappy you need to admit this – feeling unmotivated through dissatisfaction with your career is your gut begging for honesty and cannot – unfortunately – be remedied by a self help guide you have googled on the internet. If this resonates with you then think thoroughly about whether a career change is best. Career coaches can bring you valuable clarity if you are unsure, for more information click here. For those of you happy in your career, focus on the end game. Your career has many steps and the only way to reach the next one is to keep your eyes on the prize. Just like your favourite athlete you need to adopt a winning mindset to bring home the gold, read more about this here. Don’t give your employer a reason to hire someone else over you.

Image curtesey of Vic on flickr Vic – flickr the image has not been amended.

By Leila Mezoughi


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