Seek failure

Luck is the result of both preparation and timing.

Lucky is the hockey player who scores whenever they touch the puck, the serial entrepreneur who exits at just the right time.

Sometimes luck is not known until after an event, it comes disguised and has the loyalty of a dog’s nose. In your life you will be unprepared, fall victim to bad timing and will be plain unlucky, at least thrice. It is likely the hockey player or entrepreneur failed many times before luck sent a pass.

You will fail at something in life

Everyone fails, if you haven’t you need to try harder. I have failed at prior blog attempts, online businesses and other ventures which have given me skills and confidence to work on bigger projects today. Failure is not the opposite of success, it’s closure. I’ve learned recognizing and exploiting failure is the quickest way to make sure you’re prepared for the next opportunity that comes your way.

seek failure

When it’s time to quit, seek failure

One of my earlier blogs lasted three posts over ten days. I enjoyed writing the three posts and had big ideas as I started to build a communication calendar. The topics I might cover were varied, I had a chance to be a subject matter expert and create a community around the profession. I spent forty hours building the site, coding and designing templates and widgets. I worked with gusto.

I was halfway through my communication plan and editorial calendar – a schedule of future posts – that I realized this would not be sustainable. The blog was specific to my current role and I would be building a community around something I would have to abandon when I switched roles, one doesn’t go to a cooking class to learn how to fish.

It would fail eventually, I had to seek failure now.

I can’t give you an excel template that spits a YES, NO or HOLD to decide if you need to terminate your project early, although you may be familiar with the adage of working on your business not in your business. Scheduled time monthly or quarterly to reflect and review open projects will force time to to determine if they are sustainable.

Assess the damage

Forty hours were given to this project and all I got was three blog posts, do you think this was a failure?

At a minimum I learned:

  • How to host, install, and modify a blog engine
  • Specifics to my current field from researching blog topics
  • When sharing my work, people listened and wanted to help
  • Everything 80% of people need to know about Google Analytics
  • Editorial calendars and communication planning for content
  • Short-term planning and tactics need to be paired with long-term strategy

All of which have helped me launch this current project, 500 Lessons.

The act of practice is what makes us better, reading the points in a textbook or twitter would not have prepared me in the same way failing did. It’s attractive to attribute failures to lack of skill or drive, but powerful to accept them as opportunities to stretch.

Wrap it up

A project is only as good as it’s wrap-up, writing down your thoughts to key questions will allow you to transfer the experience to skills and knowledge. Do it immediately although it’s never too late, as long as you can remember the project you can write it down.

Some questions to ask:

  • What was the goal of the project, was it completed and why or why not?
  • What obstacles were faced in reaching the goal, could they have been foreseen?
  • At what point in the project did you determine it was time to quit?
  • What will you do differently in a similar project?

Rebuild

Great works can happen through iteration, something that fails once can be tried again. The amazing thing about second chances is that if you took time to properly wrap up a previous failure, you will know how to avoid it in the future. We all know this instinctively, even if we are shy to embrace it.

Seek failure.

 

Tim Rhodes

Tim works proudly with TD Bank Group, he is the creator and curator of this project (500 Lessons). Having just moved across the country to Toronto, he is looking for new community volunteering opportunities!

Connect Tim on LinkedIn or Twitter, he'd love to hear from you.

The opinions and articles shared on this site by Tim are entirely his own unless otherwise credited, and are not representative of TD's views, position, strategies, or opinions.

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