How To Use Failure As Your Path To Success
“On the path to success, we trip and lose our footing from time to time. But stumbling and even falling is the best way to learn from mistakes and is critical to achieving goals,” says Bill Wooditch, author of the book, Fail More: Embrace, Learn, And, Adapt to Failure As A Way To Success.
- Conquer the negative emotions that naturally arise after making mistakes.
- Clearly articulate lessons learned.
- Put these lessons to use immediately.
- Navigate all forms of rejection and failure in pragmatic ways.
- Rationally examine your personal fears and gain mastery over them.
- Shed the discomfort of uncertainty, which is the only way to open your mind to all possibilities.
Wooditch: We have to understand how our thinking has been molded by our teachers and perhaps those in the intellectual community. Carol Dweck is a great resource to understand the difference between a “fixed” and “growth” mindset. A fixed mindset champions innate ability while a growth mindset is the framework for progress that comes from perseverance, willpower, and the willingness to fail in order to learn.
Question: How can someone learn to stifle that negative voice that says, “You can’t, you won’t, and you shouldn’t.”?
Wooditch: Be aware of the origin of the voice. It’s protective in nature. It’s our brain signaling that if we try something and fail, we’ll be embarrassed or judged. We don’t want to lose face or feel ashamed.
Question: What is your ultimate goal for Fail More? How best can business leaders and individuals start using insight from this book right now?
Wooditch: My goal is to teach people that it may be that last step, perhaps the toughest step, that makes a difference between average and great in your endeavors. I wrote this book to encourage people to try more and do more as they learn not only from the attempt, but the result. It’s a book about making modifications and applying these changes to succeed.
Question: If you participate in competitive events (athletic and non-athletic) are you likely to more conditioned/prepared to learn from failing?
Wooditch: I think so. Practice is nothing more than a series of failures that eventually lead to varying degrees of success. In the competitive arena of sports, practice and conditioning is contingent upon repetitions, improvements, and time spent getting up from the hits of failure.
Question: Why don't more companies/businesses embrace the theory that success comes from failure?
Wooditch: Because some companies look at success and failure as a zero-sum game. Some companies create systems and embrace the theory of their system as a way to avoid failure. However, once theory is put into practice, reality often dictates a different outcome than they envisioned. The manager or leader who demands perfection creates an environment of fear. Fear will paralyze, and its victims will end up as prisoners in a company that fosters a fixed mindset, quest-for-perfection mentality.
Perhaps Wooditch’s best overall advice is to think of “failing more” as “trying more.” It’s a strategic way to collect and apply tactical knowledge and methods you can use for future benefit.
- Recognize when fear is disguising itself as procrastination or distraction.
- Minimize imagined fear that can overwhelm and cloud your decision making.
- Cultivate allies and advocates who can help you see the blind spots.
- Discover that nonchoice is also a choice and, why sometimes nonchoices are the best bet.