“It’s not whether you get knocked down …

… it’s whether you get up” – Vince Lombardi

I love the pessimistic quote by Jules Renard, ‘There are moments when everything goes well; don’t be frightened, it won’t last’.

This week I have been giving some thought to the flip side of success – failure. None of us enjoy failing. Most of us avoid doing things because of a fear of failure. We want to avoid mistakes, eliminate errors from our lives and win, not lose. In order to achieve this, we often decide that doing nothing is the best plan of inaction. We all want to know how we can find our way around life’s challenges, obstacles, hurdles or problems and reach the positions we seek, but we often duck the ‘taking action’ part because of the fears generated by our beliefs about the risks involved. Some of us are haunted by past failures. Some people feel they themselves are failures.

We probably have nothing to fear but this fear of failure. Apparently, when the going gets tough, the tough get going. For me, the logic for taking action is unassailable. If you do try you might fail, but if you don’t try, you have no chance of succeeding. If you do try (and you fail) then you will almost certainly find that the failure teaches and you will be in a better position to succeed when you try again. In that way, mistakes and failure are an intrinsic part of success.

We have a string of conventional wisdom and advice to stimulate us into taking action and carrying on in the face of adversity:

‘If at first you don’t succeed, try, try and try again’
‘If you don’t make mistakes, you don’t make anything’

But these fine words do not often push us into taking the action we need to take. This is one of the reasons I included a diary section in Design for Life™ – as a way of prompting users to take the action they know they need to take.

Self Help books are regularly full of formulas to help us overcome our fears. They recommend acting as if you are already successful (I find this tough, but it might work for you), and remembering when you did succeed because that will give you the confidence in your ability to do it again (the latter works better for me).

My approach in Design for Life™ is to advise you that knowing what the obstacles are is a great way to help avoid failures. I don’t know what is getting in your way – it could be your beliefs or knowledge, motivation, lack of optimism or other attitudes which determine your mindset. What I do know is that, once you know what your problems are (in detail), they are half resolved.

Clearly, you can’t win them all (that’s healthy realism). You win some, you lose some. But both losing and failure can be used for learning and for creating steps to future success. One door closes and another opens. Or to quote an old Arab proverb, ‘You learn little from success, much from failure’.

If fear of failure is one of the things getting in the way of your success, then Design for Life™ might help. Before you take actions there is always a question about how much analysis is needed. You can never know exactly how much analysis is needed to guarantee success; on the other hand, detailed analysis clearly lowers the risks of failure and no analysis or plan is probably a recipe for failure or not succeeding. Design for Life™ has been created to help you find a safe path to a different and better future. You should try it.

John Cornbill