Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Successful People Talk More About Failure Than Success

How do you distinguish between truly successful people and the mediocre ones? Successful people are always candid about their failures. Like how Jack Ma couldn't even get a job with McDonalds. Or how Steve Jobs got kicked out of Apple, the very company he found.

Mediocre people, instead, hardly talk about their failures. Instead, they talk about one of these things (or all of them):

1. Their whole history of successes from the earliest days of childhood ("You know, I used to represent state for football")

2. Their experiences where they came oh-so-close to failure, but recovered right in time to save the day ("We were losing by a goal at halftime, but then I scored two goals to bring us the win!")

3. Their failures where other people f**ked up, not them ("We could've won the finals, if our keeper hadn't slipped.")

Yes, mediocre people will allude to a minor failure or two, but ultimately only to  build up to the dramatic Hollywood happy ending.

In a way, successful people also follow the same process. They will start out talking about their embarrassing failures, and how it contributed to their success later on in life. But there are some stark differences:

1. They don't find excuses for their failures, nor shift the blame to others.

2. They don't claim to have managed to transform each and every failure into success.

3. They don't treat failures as mistakes to be avoided, but experiences to be embraced.

Failure is the path of success

Failure And Success Are BFFs

In short, successful people accept failures as part of the process that is life. There's nothing inherently wrong with failures. It's a natural result of self-development, of maximising your potential, of pursuing a purposeful goal.

They treat every failure as a learning opportunity. What went wrong? Where did I screw up? How can I fix things?

Failure is a friend, not a foe. Yes, it's the opposite of success, but it's a necessary dimension of success. Think of life as an experiment. Is it possible to experiment things without getting a few negative results? Of course not. To get things right, we need to test different moves through trial and error, to determine what works and what doesn't. Without failure, there would be no success. Just as there wouldn't be light without darkness.

Successful people appreciate the duality of success and failure. Yes, it's all a bit Zen, like Yin and Yang. One is not better than the other. They're two sides of the same coin.

Elon Musk is a prime example. After cashing out millions in his successful Paypal exit, he dumped his new-found wealth into SpaceX (rockets and Mars colonisation) and Tesla (electric cars) - crazy, risky investments that came close to bankruptcy. He could've made safe bets on property and stocks. But that would be too easy, a waste of his potential. Instead, he wanted to succeed in an epic scale, even if it meant dancing with failure and losing everything he had. That's ballsy. That's how successful people roll.

To infinity and beyond

If You Succeed, Try To Fail Again

Yes, of course attaining success is the ultimate goal. But there needs to be balance. Just as it's not a good sign having a streak of failures without success, it's also not good having a streak of success without failure. If you're not experiencing failure, it means you're not testing yourself fully, not pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone, not taking your life to the next level.

That's why truly successful people do crazy things, even after attaining success. They take risks. They don't rest on their laurels. They're not afraid to fail spectacularly.

Mediocre people are easy to spot. They repeat their old success stories. They are nostalgic about the 'good old days'. They're stuck in the past.

Successful people, however, always keep their eyes fully focused on the future - where a world of new successes and failures awaits.

Successful people don't stop once they taste success. They're always eager to embark on a new adventure with no certainty of success. They're always hungry for more.

For that's the only way to attain fresh successes in life. Once you succeed, fail and fail again.

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