Jim Rohn, the success guru and mentor, said, “Failure is a few errors in judgment repeated every day.” The word to watch is “repeated.”
Now there’s a difference between temporary and permanent failure. We fail at many things in life; it’s all part of our growth and development. A baby starts to walk and falls down, tries again, falls again. Eventually she walks. Failure evolves into success. You make an investment in a stock, based on the seller’s advice. It turns out to be a dud. Failure here may teach you a lesson - a need to do more research on the stock, or on the seller – or on both. You meet someone, fall in love, and get married within a month. Three months later you’re in the middle of a divorce. Another failure with a lesson learned, hopefully.
Then there’s permanent failure; he does the same thing over and over again and gets the same bad results. He earns the title, “Failure.”
Everyone wants to know how to be successful, but not everyone is prepared to take the action required to do (or stop doing) what it takes to achieve success. We avidly devour books on success and motivation. They are some of the biggest sellers found in bookshops, usually listed under “psychology”, “self-improvement”, “management”, or “business.” People attend lectures and seminars by business and motivational speakers on how to be more accomplished, more productive, and more successful. They are impressed, inspired, and uplifted. But 80-90% of those people do nothing as a result of attending those events. They take no action to achieve what they know and believe should be done to change their circumstances for the better. How come?
Rather than spout off here about how to become successful, I’m going to talk about how you can become a failure – a little reverse psychology. I can talk about this because I’ve been there and I’ve learned some tough lessons. Tom Peters said failure in itself is good, even necessary. Without failure there can be no real learning or achievement. Permanent failure, however, is when we don’t learn from our temporary failures. The real issue is that if you don’t focus on what causes failure, and if you don’t decide to do something about it, you’re perpetuating permanent failure and blocking any path to success.
Here are thirteen ways to fail consistently:
1. Have no written goals whatsoever.
2. Have no plans.
3. Take little or no action, even if you have goals.
4. Associate with the wrong people.
5. Watch too much TV.
6. Never listen to, or inquire about, others’ interests.
7. Avoid all risks.
8. Complain and whine constantly.
9. Depend on others too much.
10. Don’t read or study success.
11. Stay in your comfort zone.
12. Blame others for your “bad luck.”
13. Be afraid to say ‘No!”
Here’s how to reverse the flow of permanent failure
· Make a big circle around the ones that are true for you.
· Make a decision to make them part of your new focus.
· Rewrite each circled item like this: for example, # 1: “Because I have no goals whatsoever, I am dissatisfied (or bored) with my life” or “I see no success in my future” or “I will never be promoted”, or some other negative result you can think of. Be as honest as you can. Then decide to change the status quo. Pick one item and work on it, starting today. Let me know how you made out! In future articles I will elaborate on some of these specific causes of permanent failure.