IF TIGERS worked on Wall Street, they’d be kicked out the door in five minutes. Contrary to their reputation of being the deadliest cat on the planet (that honor goes to the tiny black-footed cat) it’s estimated that 95% of a Tiger’s hunts end in complete failure.
That means the odds of it successfully hunting are about 0.0526. And if you’re wondering why the hell you’re attending math class right now, let me give you some context. That’s not much better odds than the Tiger correctly guessing the ace of spades from a deck of cards.
Tigers, despite their reputation as the biggest, baddest cat on the planet, fail all the time. And considering most of their life is spent hunting, that means most of their life is spent out of breath, feeling embarrassed, and watching some shit-eating gazelle spring away.
But this isn’t just how it is for Tigers. This is how it is for all of nature.
The vast majority of animals fail all the time at exactly what they are designed to do. The tiger fails to hunt, the bear fails to scavenge, and the blue whale fails to… well, it fails to do whatever it is that blue whales do.
Failing is part of life. If we want to do what we’re best at, then we better get used to failing.
You’ve probably heard the quote ‘if you want to succeed double your failure rate.’ It crops up all the time on LinkedIn, motivational images, and youtube pep talks.
The guy who said was a man named Thomas J. Watson. Aside from putting IBM on the map, Watson was hailed as the world’s greatest salesman when he died. Despite his legacy being reduced to a quick shot of motivation, there is a deep wisdom to what he says:
Everyone wants to be so good that they never fail, but maybe the reality is that we have to fail more.
HOW OFTEN ARE YOU FAILING?
If you were to stop and think about your goal – maybe it’s getting better at dating, starting a business, or writing a movie – how often have you allowed yourself to fail at it?
And I don’t mean failed to even start. I mean you started an attempt. You saw it through. And it ended in complete and utter failure.
You got rejected. The business went bust. The script sucked.
If you’re honest, like most of us the answer would probably be: ‘I haven’t.’
Everyone wants something, but rarely we do ever try to get it. Instead, the closest we get is trying to figure out ways to avoid failure. We engage in perfectionism, we try to learn as much as we can, or worse, we procrastinate our way out of ever trying.
So our dream… stays exactly that. A dream. Lost in our defense mechanisms.
One of the easiest ways to understand how realistic your goals are is to take a look and see how hard you’re failing. If like the Tiger, all of your attempts have ended in failure – then you’re on the right track.
Because it means you’re actually trying. It means you actually have something to learn from. And it means you’re actually in the ballpark of eventually getting lucky.
You don’t kill an antelope without chasing one in the first place.
If, however, you’ve never failed, it’s probably because you’ve never tried. And because you’ve never tried, your goals just aren’t going to happen.
You aren’t being realistic.
If you want to develop charisma, you have to slog through years of being boring. If you want to meet women who think you’re great, you have to meet dozens who think you suck. If you want to write a great book, you have to write dozens that are unreadable garbage. If you want to have a great sex life, you have to get shot down by all the people who would never fuck you. If you want to run a successful business, you have to go bankrupt and live off baked beans… Or something like that.
Failure isn’t the indicator that you’re on the right track. But it IS the indicator that you’re actually on a track in the first place. If you aren’t failing, you aren’t doing anything. You aren’t moving. You aren’t growing.
You aren’t doing shit.
YOU DON’T FAIL BECAUSE YOU DON’T CARE
Failure is like any other shitty experience. It’s part and parcel with the good ones.
No matter what goal it is you’re trying to pursue, the majority of the experience will not be that enjoyable and most of your attempts will end in failure.
This is an immutable rule of life. People make entire careers selling self-help books which say this in slightly different ways. The thing you love is the thing you spend most of your time suffering through. The thing we love is the thing we fail at.
But if everyone knows this, why do we hide from failure so much?
The truth is that you fear failure because you care only about the result of your goal, not the process of actually attempting it. This is because it isn’t really about you doing it, it’s about achieving it changing who you are.
Your goal isn’t an intrinsic expression of who you are, it’s a band-aid for your emotional issues. You don’t want to write because you have something to say – you want fame and adoration. You don’t want a great sex life because you’re in touch with your sexuality – you want emotional validation and dependency. You don’t want to succeed at business so you can add value to your own life and others – you want it so you can show everyone how much better you are than them.
Your goal isn’t so much as a goal as it is wish fulfillment for your self-esteem issues. And this is why you don’t achieve it.
Because in failing to achieve it, you reinforce the idea that you’re the opposite of what it is you wish you were. And your rock bottom self-esteem can’t handle that.
So it stops you from even trying.
THE UNSUNG BENEFIT OF EMBRACING FAILURE
There is an obvious benefit to embracing failure. You learn from the experience.
The more you fail, the more you know where you’re going wrong. And the more you know where you’re going wrong, the more likely you are to go right.
You’re also more likely to be lucky. It’s no wonder that Thomas J. Watson was considered the world’s greatest salesman. He understood the importance of luck and it’s relationship to failure.
When he said ‘double your failure rate’ one of the things he was saying is that you don’t get lucky without repeatedly being even more unlucky. So you should make a habit out of being unlucky all the time.
Rejection therapy is something which embraces this idea and makes it practical. You continually expose yourself to rejection. Some people do this for confidence, and many guys do it to get over their approach anxiety. Whatever your goal is, continually exposing yourself to rejection is the right way to go.
But the unsung benefit of embracing failure is the effect it has on your mindset. Because you’re okay if you fail, you’re not as dependent on your goal succeeding. You’re doing what you do for you, and nobody else.
This, incidentally, is what I argue is the core principle of being attractive.
In sales, this is where you develop an indifference to the whether the buyer purchases your product or not. You know it’s benefits and you know it’s value to them, but you’re okay with their decision either way. You don’t need them to buy. They can take it or leave it.
More often than not this makes them more likely to buy it.
Whereas when your entire attitude is ‘please buy my product.’ What do you think happens? It’s the exact same thing in dating. When you’re happy in your own life, having a great time as you are, your results increase.
When you embrace failure for failure’s sake, you learn to become okay with your neediness.
In other words, in failing, you learn to get out of your own way.
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