Fail to Succeed: Igniting Insights Through Mistakes

Fail to Succeed is the second element of “The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking” by Drs. Burger and Starbird.  Here are some noteworthy comments about the benefits of failing from some highly eminent people.

Winston Churchill
“Success is the ability to go from one failure to another without loss of enthusiasm.”

Michael Jordan
“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career.  I’ve lost almost 300 games.  26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed..  I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life.  And that is why I succeed.”

James Joyce
“A man’s errors are his portal of discovery.”

Linus Pauling
“The way to get good ideas is to get lots of ideas and throw the bad ones away.”

Samuel Beckett
“Ever tried.  Ever failed.  No matter. Try again.  Fail again, fail better.”

So failure, or rather the ability to capitalize upon failure ,is what these outstanding individuals in different pursuits have in common.

When you see or make a mistake, you have at least two actions to take:
let the mistake lead you to a better attempt, and/or
ask whether the mistake is an answer to a different question.

As was mentioned in the first post on this book, always do something, even when you know it is wrong.  Then you have something to improve upon.  The book suggests thinking to yourself, “in order for me to resolve this issue, I will have to fail nine times, but on the tenth attempt I will be successful.”

Actually, the number of times is irrelevant.  The objective is to improve upon each attempt until we eventually reach our objective.  Thomas Edison had at least an order of magnitude of mistakes beyond ten when inventing the light bulb.  He succeeded, because he did not regard these attempts at failures.  Each one provided information that led to his ultimate success.

There is more in this chapter that I cannot pass on without copying the chapter.  So I again I urge you to read the book yourself.

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