Tag Archives: failure

Failure and Why You Should Embrace Your Inner Screw-Up

screw up embrace your inner screw up failure jade luck club jadeluckclubI read this email newsletter for search engine marketing  (SEM) called Search Insider. It’s true that SEM is a kind of new, wild, west frontier that is an ever very rapidly changing landscape. This article by Gord Hotchkiss encourages digital marketers to embrace failure/screwing up/mistakes. He gives good advice that applies well beyond search engine marketers. Embrace your inner “screw-up” because it’s the most efficient way to learn and also has the biggest payoff. Risk = Reward. And it’s a fun ride too if your stomach can take it.

p.s. If you want to know what the pundits think children should be learning NOW to prepare for the next 10 years, here’s a great article from Xeconomy to get a “view into the future at a time of  breakneck technological change and increasing economic uncertainty. Their answers paint a picture of the world that is fascinating, and occasionally, sobering.” Let me put it this way, Tiger Mom Amy Chua’s strategy was to memorize and regurgitate. This doesn’t fly in the new economy if you want a front seat.

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Humans hate making mistakes. But the fact is, making mistakes is an essential part of being human. Somehow, we have to learn to live on the edge of this paradox. For digital marketers, our entire industry is balanced on this particular precarious precipice.

There are a few rules of thumb to “screwing up” successfully:

You Can Only Learn from Others if You’re in the Middle of the Pack

If you’re a digital marketer, you’ve decided to travel at the head of the herd. Congratulations. But here’s the thing. You’ve volunteered to make mistakes. The mark is on your forehead and it’s your job to poke the bushes and test the waters, flushing out danger for others to take heed of.

Humans have a long history of leveraging the principle of safety in numbers. But in that dynamic, some have to live on the edge and let others learn from their mistakes. The advantage of that position is that you’re also the first to take advantage of the unchartered wins that come from conquering new challenges. The risks are greater, but so are the rewards. If this balance doesn’t appeal to you, move back to center and follow the leaders. Just realize it’s a lot more crowded there, and there might not be enough perks to go around.

The More Unstable the Environment, The More Important it is to Make Mistakes

You don’t need the safety of a herd in safe and stable environments. We call it civilization. It’s on the frontier, where things get precarious, that you need safety in numbers. Ironically, it’s on the frontier where the herd thins out and you often have to go it alone. That really leaves you no choice. There is no beaten path to follow. You’re going to have to be the one that forges it. And that means you’re going to make mistakes. Get used to it. Embrace it. Take solace in the fact that while taking action may cause mistakes, not taking action pretty much guarantees you’ll end up as somebody’s lunch.

If You Can’t Get Comfortable, Get Courageous

I often tell aspiring digital marketers that this is not a comfortable career. If you want security, become an accountant. But if you want a challenge, you’ve found the right niche. Digital marketing takes courage. It means trusting your gut and betting on long shots. It means embracing opportunities without a mound of evidence to rely on. To succeed in this business, first you need passion — but courage runs a close second.

Mistakes = Learning

I don’t know where making mistakes got such a bad rap from, but I shudder to think where humanity would be without them (read Ralph Heath’s excellent book, “Celebrating Failure”). You can’t learn without making mistakes. You can’t gain ground without occasionally falling down. I’ve spent the majority of my life as an entrepreneur, which pretty much means the regular making of mistakes, so perhaps I’ve become used to it. But I honestly don’t know why screwing up has been stigmatized to the extent it has.

Learn to “Do It Wrong Quickly”

My friend Mike Moran wrote a book a few years ago calling “Do it Wrong Quickly,” which uncovers one of the essential elements of successfully screwing up: to build learning into the process. Understand that failure is an essential part of the equation (especially in digital marketing), and go in using it as an opportunity to learn quickly, adjust and iterate your way to success. By going in anticipating failure, you won’t be surprised when it happens and can quickly move beyond failure to learning and adapting.

Realize You Don’t Have to Be Perfect — You Just Have to be Better than the Other Guy

Finally, this is a game of percentages. If you bump up the level of activity, you’ll make more mistakes, but you’ll also win more battles. You’ll “fail forward” — and soon you’ll be looking at the competition in your rearview mirror.

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More on Failure: Why Failure is the Secret to Your Success from bNet

failure success failure is secret to success JadeLuckClub Jade Luck Club

Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm. 
Winston Churchill

I found this on bNet: Why Failure is the Secret of Your Success by Suzanne Lucas. The idea of failure as a sure path to success is not what a Tiger Mom believes in and that is precisely what I like about it. Think about the old Soviet Union. Do you remember that the old state run factories were never allowed to go into bankruptcy even when they were failing? Like a circle in hell, the factories were forced to stay open, doing the same doomed operations over and over. Contract that with Apple computer. Without the Lisa, there would never have been the Macintosh computer (or iPod or iPad). Learning from your mistakes is a sure path to success and this article addresses kids these days who are never allowed to make mistakes. And that’s the biggest mistake you can make as a parent!.

p.s. If you like this post, you might like Embracing Failure: It’s the New Success.

In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure. 
Bill Cosby

The full article is here.

Success is never final, failure is never fatal. It’s courage that counts. 
John Wooden

The key points:

  • What does it take to succeed? Apparently a whole lot of failure.
  • Dominic Randolph, who leads an expensive, top ranked private school in New York City, is concerned about students that have known nothing but success. These kids don’t know how to fail because they’ve never done it. Therefore, when things get outside their comfort zone, or they first encounter people more capable than they are, they have no skills for dealing with it. We talk a lot about hard work, but school grading generally ends up being based on how well you did on the test, not about how much effort it took to get there or how persistent someone was.
  • As Levin watched the progress of those KIPP (a network of charter schools) alumni, he noticed something curious: the students who persisted in college were not necessarily the ones who had excelled academically at KIPP; they were the ones with exceptional character strengths, like optimism and persistence and social intelligence. They were the ones who were able to recover from a bad grade and resolve to do better next time; to bounce back from a fight with their parents; to resist the urge to go out to the movies and stay home and study instead; to persuade professors to give them extra help after class.
  • The ability to bounce back from failure is a key point. But, what if you’ve never failed? What if your parents fix every problem you ever have? What if you never gain this valuable skills? Then you’re far less likely to have true success.  If you’ve never had to try again and again, are you going to assume that the problem is unsolvable if you fail the first time?

 Failure is a detour, not a dead-end street. 
Zig Ziglar

Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.
Henry Ford

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Embracing Failure: It’s the New Success

failure is the new success JadeLuckClub Jade Luck Club Celebrating Asian American Creativity

“The greatest barrier to success is the fear of failure.”

I’ve been thinking about failure since reading this excellent post on Embrace Failure on my favorite children’s literature blog, From the Mixed Up Files of Middle Grade Authors. As an entrepreneur, I embrace failure. It is the surest and quickest path to success. Why? It’s life’s best teacher. You never forget a failure. You learn from it, deeply and profoundly as in:  it keeps you up late a night, pondering, questioning, wondering. It provides options in the form of a nicely forking road. Do you get back in the saddle and try again, all the wiser? Or do you veer left, shimmy right, or duck down below? Failure makes you creative. If you are going to ram your head against the wall, the next time you will choose a nicely padded one.

“Obstacles are things a person sees when he takes his eyes off his goal.”

Not everyone agrees of course. Most pointedly, failure is not an option in Tiger Parenting. “The Chinese parenting approach is weakest when it comes to failure; it just doesn’t tolerate that possibility. The Chinese model turns on achieving success. That’s how the virtuous circle of confidence, hard work, and more success is generated.” Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother Suffice it to say that I don’t buy the Tiger Parenting Model and I don’t buy the idea of failure not being an option. If you eliminate options that can lead to failure, you have very few options left. Worse, your few choices become the path of least resistance.

“Would you like me to give you a formula for success? It’s quite simple, really. Double your rate of failure. You are thinking of failure as the enemy of success. But it isn’t at all. You can be discouraged by failure or you can learn from it, So go ahead and make mistakes. Make all you can. Because remember that’s where you will find success.”

Don’t believe me? Look at Amy Chua’s career. “I went to law school, mainly because I didn’t want to go to medical school.” “After graduating [from law school], I went to a Wall Street law firm because it was the path of least resistance.” “…I decided to write an epic novel. Unfortunately, I had no talent for writing…What’s more, Maxine Hong Kingston, Amy Tan, and Jung Chang all best me to it….At first, I was bitter and resentful, but then I got over it.” In fact, by (sort of) admitting her failings, her book became an international best seller. But in the form of her book, this is the most risk she’s taken in her life.

“The person who gets the farthest is generally the one who is willing to do and dare. The sure-thing boat never gets far from shore.”

I think what is daunting about failure is the publicity around it. Knowing that people will know that you’ve failed. That they’ll whisper behind your back about what an epic failure you are. Even laugh. But here’s the trick. If you own your failure, nothing anyone can say will bother you. That’s the secret. It’s simple really.

“The only real failure in life is the failure to try.”

Of course, you will own the knowledge that comes from failure. This knowledge is hard fought and very valuable. Use each failure to build, brick by brick, your success in whatever form that may be. Because success is never one big idea, or one very talented person, or someone who is “lucky, at the right time and right place.” No. Emphatically no!  It’s like most things: lots of little things added up together such that the sum is greater than the parts. Only the brave can try this. Are you that courageous?

“Most successful men have not achieved their distinction by having some new talent or opportunity presented to them. They have developed the opportunity that was at hand.”

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