Failing Successfully

brown wooden blocks on white table

In any given day, at least half of what we try to do doesn’t work out. We tend to refer to these as failures, but that’s a pretty narrow way of looking at them. What we want to do is look at how we can “fail successfully.” Yes, that’s a real thing, and something successful people have been doing for a very long time.

After over forty years in business, Lou Tice considered himself highly successful. The company he and Diane started in their basement now does business on six continents, and the seminars he once gave to small groups of teachers and coaches now reach millions of people every year, many of them world leaders and corporate executives. Embracing change, something we’ve done for our 50 years of existence, now reaches more people with the advantages of technology.

But one of the reasons Lou was successful is the same reason that Ty Cobb, one of the greatest baseball sluggers of all time, was as good as he was. If you look in the record books, you’ll find that Ty Cobb’s lifetime average was only .367. That means he got a hit once out of every three times at bat, or a 63% failure rate. It’s the same story for Babe Ruth, and for hundreds of athletes over history, as well as for virtually every other successful person in the world.

The hallmark is that they were not afraid to try and not afraid to fail. In fact, the only real failure would have been not trying at all. It turns out that people really don’t remember the times Ty Cobb swung and missed, that sales goals weren’t made, and initial product designs failed. We just remember the successes more readily – probably because they are happier memories!

Have you heard of the term “writer’s block,” where the writer can’t seem to put words to paper? It has often been said that this comes about because the writer is trying to be perfect, with every word. The perceived need to be “perfect” puts such restrictions on the mind that it just gives up. Get rid of the need to be perfect, right off the mark, and your creative ideas come streaming through!

The fact is that successful people try more things more often than average folks do. Whether it’s playing baseball or building an international business, if you try enough things, you are going to succeed – a lot.

One other thing is certain: If you don’t try anything, you are guaranteed to fail. So go for it! Exactly what do you have to lose?