Last week, I posted an article on the subject of failure and its link to success. This week, I’m extending the idea of failure as a path to success.
Warriors seek out failure during their training (in everyday life) as the critical feedback necessary to move ever closer to lasting and repeatable success. I reference the term “lasting success” as opposed to success for a crucial reason – without failure as a teacher, the deep knowledge necessary to understand the intricacies of the process from which success flows can never be learned.
And, when we explore the idea that warriors “seek out failure,” the context of that search can be explained in this way: Warriors seek failure, despite their best attempt at success, thereby confirming that the attempt must be modified to inch closer to the goal. In this way, failure forces each of us, if we are willing, to shift our perspective in the search for a refined or alternate method to achieve success. This is where breakthroughs happen. This is why I call failure, The Father of Success.
Success doesn’t happen consistently without first experiencing failure as a means of teaching us something about the prize we are seeking. The more each of us can experience failure across our five domains – physical, mental, emotional, intuitive, and spiritual – the more information we can acquire about the path that leads to our goal. Imagine the powerful perspectives each of us could hold if we tapped into our experiences with failure from the context of these five domains – each offering a different take on exactly the same failed process.
For instance, what we experience in our physical body will be vastly different than the intuitive sense or our emotional frequency when our efforts lead to failure. To ignore these experiences is to miss the opportunity to capture feedback from each of your personal systems of knowledge and wisdom. These different perspectives can be vital in leading you to success.
As I mentioned last week, failure, in and of itself, is nothing more than feedback. The process of moving from failure to success is what separates the warrior from those that perpetually struggle or give up all together. The process is, in concept, quite simple.
First, each of us must first divorce ourselves from the fear that precludes our effort. To do this effectively, each of us most view failure from an objective perspective, finding the emotional space to explore failure as a process of discovery on the path to success. We cannot personalize failure as confirmation of our unworthiness, nor can we see failure as the final word on our capacity to achieve success. Failure is our guide to success.
Second, we must formulate a plan of action. At times this is done quickly, and at other times, this can be done with more planning and forethought. Regardless, to take action, we must first have a sense of where to begin. Where and how we begin might be initiated from any of our five domains – from the mental to the intuitive or spiritual. Ironically, how we begin to take action isn’t nearly as important as the willingness to take action with the intention of seeking success while heading the clues that failure provides in ultimately achieving success.
Third, when failure occurs, it is critical to (in a timely manner) develop an after action report that details what steps were taken during your effort and where you discovered (or sensed) points of failure. As you explore these concepts within your five domains, record all of your thoughts and ideas. Spend some time looking for patterns within the perspective taking process informed by your five domains. It’s possible that several domains may be offering pieces of a solution you might not otherwise discover.
Fourth, move to the remediation stage where you begin to develop a new plan for success and build skills that must support your plan. Warriors are adept at reworking the plan and the skill-building process as a means of moving ever closer to the goal. Documenting your remediation plan can be as simple as writing it down, charting the process or developing a mantra to keep you on track. The most important thing here is to plan the work, so we can work the plan as you try again.
Five, cycle through the steps outlined above as often as needed to stay on track and constantly move towards success.
Think of success as the effective application of skills in a specific sequence and within the context of your goal. These skills – their application and sequential coordination, and the context of execution -make up the necessary pieces of the puzzle that must be organized in such a way as to lead to success.
To summarize, success is the execution of a plan leveraging your 5 domains, applying the appropriate and targeted skills, in the proper order, while focused on the specific context of your goal.
By contrast, success is most often seen as the achievement of a goal. Warriors, as we will explore later, not only learn to succeed from the wisdom failure provides, but also discover how to evaluate and pursue only goals worthy of their effort.
Lastly, it is important to note that the underlying process of learning to succeed through failure and corresponding adjustment is a massively powerful skill in and of itself. In fact, developing a principle-based system for extracting wisdom from failure is the most important thing you can do to ensure that your failures will be leverage into success.
Next week, I’ll offer some ideas on some tried and true paradigms for quickly taking the feedback that failure provides and converting that feedback into interdicting action.