Realistic Thinking: Change Your Mindset — Jay Colby

We’ve all have had conversations with ourselves about if our dreams are realistic or are we somewhere in the clouds thinking we can ever achieve them. This is usually when what I like to call the “maybe thoughts” creep into our mind. Then we start thinking things like “maybe I should have a backup plan […]

via Realistic Thinking: Change Your Mindset — Jay Colby

Can Praise Set You Up to For Failure?

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Why is the right kind of praise so important?

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Developmental Psychologist and Stanford University Professor Carol Dweck. Her research indicates that too much praise can make your child fear failure or not work hard enough, and she suggests it’s better to praise effort such as “hard work” or “strategy” and not genetic attributes like intelligence.

 mindsetDweck has closely looked at the impact of praise, specifically the type of praise that learners receive. Her research has shown that praise linked to reassuring learners about their intelligence or talent is detrimental to their view about their abilities. It reinforces (fixed mindset) ideas that their achievements are a consequence of IQ or other finite innate ability. In Dweck’s work it led to students worrying that future tests might reveal their shortcomings, and that challenges were to be avoided as, again, struggling demonstrated that they weren’t really as smart as their teachers had believed.  Dweck’s research has demonstrated the importance of praise that recognizes effort. Praise that acknowledges process related activities such as practice, study, persistence and good strategies are proven to instill and develop a growth mindset in learners.

 

Dweck believes the best managers are those with a growth mindset — those who believe in their ability to change and a conviction that learning it the way forward.

Organizations can have fixed mindsets, too — and in the war for talent, those that do are losing out on great people, said Huysse. As Dweck pointed out, trusting in the value of hard work and effort is not just a stronger predictor of success, but a much more powerful motivator.

“A fixed mindset doesn’t tell you what to do next,” said Dweck. “It provides no recipe for recovering from failures,” which makes it tough to take on new challenges where stumbling is possible or even likely.

At the core of a growth mindset on talent is neuroplasticity — the ability of the brain to reorganize itself with learning. It requires not just working at what you know, but pushing past into areas that stretch your knowledge and skills. A favorite quote of Dweck’s: “Anyone who’s never made a mistake has never tried anything new.”

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Mindsets are transmitted in an organization through a shared understanding of what’s valued: being right or being open to learning. “We are very tuned in to messages about what will make people like and admire us. We’re wired to pick this up,” said Dweck. Praise for intelligence instead of praise for effort sends the wrong message. People who are praised for being smart “don’t want to risk their newly minted genius status,” and that fosters static, rigid organizations. Praise for effort keeps people engaged and willing to work hard.

 Try this:

  • Instead of “person praise” (e.g., “You are creative”), offer “process praise”:
  • Praise the strategy (e.g., “You found a really good way to do it.”)
  • Praise with specificity (e.g., “You seem to really understand fractions.”)
  • Praise effort (e.g., “I can tell you’ve been practicing.”)
  • Keep it real: Don’t say, “Good job!” when it’s not.

 If you want to learn how to create learning strategies for success click here to subscribe  for in-depth content and special offers.

 References:

 

http://www.blogher.com/node/16010

 http://www.teachit.so/mindset.htm

 https://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2014/03/28/the-difference-between-praise-and-feedback/

 https://www.tes.com/news/school-news/breaking-views/praise-effort-not-outcome-think-again

 https://hbr.org/2011/11/praise-leads-to-cheating

 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/renee-jain/praising-kids_b_5272483.html

 

 #hackingfailure

 

 

How Failure In Q1 Can Be A Good Thing!

Astro Teller is an entrepreneur, inventor, and author.  He worked as the “Captain of Moonshots” for X -formerly called Google X.

He reveals the secret of their success.  “We spend most of our time breaking things and trying to prove that we’re wrong. That’s it, that’s the secret. Run at all the hardest parts of the problem first. The only way to get people to work on big, risky things — audacious ideas — and have them run at all the hardest parts of the problem first, [and you do this by making] that the path of least resistance for them.” And Google X does this by making it safe to fail.

According to Teller: “Teams kill their ideas as soon as the evidence is on the table because they’re rewarded for it. They get applause from their peers. Hugs and high fives from their manager, me in particular. They get promoted for it. We have bonused every single person on teams that ended their projects”

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Your corporation probably has big ideas, big plans and big goals for 2017.

My advice, seek failure, fail fast and learn from it.  The more projects or ideas that you can prove wrong (not viable business endeavors /investments) in Q1 the better your company will be in Q4.

Most companies percolate ideas and project throughout the year and arrive at somewhat obvious conclusions too late and thus are unable to pivot to a better ideas before the year ends…

Read more about failure in Q1 on www.hackingfailure.com


-Shane Lester, Author of Hacking Failure

Learn more about Hacking Failure

If you want to learn how to create learning strategies for success click here to subscribe  for in-depth content and special offers.

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How to not fail at your fitness goals next year.

A recent study finds 73% of people who set fitness goals as new year’s resolutions give them up before the end of the year.

Experts say the reason for these failures is that many of us lack the proper structure to support the behavioral changes our new goals require.

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With these odds, setting goals seems like a losing proposition and there are also some unintended consequences of goal setting.

This validates Scott Adams book How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big”, in which he declared that “goals are for loser and systems are for winners

“Goal-oriented people exist in a state of nearly continuous failure that they hope will be temporary. That feeling wears on you.

Goal-oriented people exist in a state of continuous presuccess failure at best, and permanent failure at worst if things never work out. Systems people succeed every time they apply their systems, in the sense that they did what they intended to do. The goals people are fighting the feeling of discouragement at each turn. The systems people are feeling good every time they apply their system. That’s a big difference in terms of maintaining your personal energy in the right direction.”

Does this explain why so many goals drop off our radar?

In a study published in the British Journal of Health Psychology, researchers measured how frequently people exercised over a 2–week period.

The researchers started by randomly assigning 248 adults to one of three groups.

Group 1 was the control group. They were asked to keep track of how frequently they exercised over the next two weeks. Before they left, each person was asked to read the opening three paragraphs of an unrelated novel.

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Group 2 was the motivation group. They were also asked to keep track of how frequently they exercised over the next two weeks. Then, each person was asked to read a pamphlet on the benefits of exercise for reducing the risk of heart disease. Participants in Group 2 were also told, “Most young adults who have stuck to a regular exercise program have found it to be very effective in reducing their chances of developing coronary heart disease.”

The goal of these actions was to motivate Group 2 to exercise regularly.

Group 3 was the intention group. After being told to track their exercise, they also read the motivational pamphlet and got the same speech as Group 2. This was done to ensure that Group 2 and Group 3 were equally motivated.

Unlike Group 2, however, they were also asked to formulate a plan for when and where they would exercise over the following week. Specifically, each person in Group 3 was asked to explicitly state their intention to exercise by completing the following statement…

During the next week, I will partake in at least 20 minutes of vigorous exercise on [DAY] at [TIME OF DAY] at/in [PLACE].

After receiving these instructions, all three groups left.

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Two weeks later, the researchers were surprised by what had happened in the three groups.

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In the control group (group 1), 38% of participants exercised at least once per week.

In the motivation group (group 2), 35% of participants exercised at least once per week.

In the intention group (group 3), an incredible 91% of participants exercised at least once per week.

Simply by writing down a plan that said exactly when and where they intended to exercise, the participants in Group 3 were much more likely to actually follow through.

The researchers discovered that what pulls that desire out of you and turns it into real–world action isn’t your level of motivation, but rather your plan for implementation.

In fact, over 100 separate studies in a wide range of experimental situations have come to the same conclusion: people who explicitly state when and where their new behaviors are going to happen are much more likely to stick to their goals.

Going parallel to this research is convention wisdom and years of goal setting mantras.  For example ACE fitness recommends SMART goals and the following guidelines:

  • Your goal should be specific, clear and easy to understand. 
  • Your goal should be measurable.
  • Your goal should be attainable.
  • Your goal should be time-bound.

Looking more like a system is what Men’s Fitness recommends in 7 steps:

  1. Start Now
  2. Define What You Want
  3. Goals must be measurable, attainable and timed
  4. Acknowledge the Hurdles:
  5. Make Sacrifices
  6. Make Your Goal Public
  7. Take Action, Every Day

A systems approach is implied by many in the fitness domain.  However, the emphasis is still heavy on goals setting.  Even though SMART goals and 7 steps look like a system it is still heavy on the goal part.    

I’m not suggesting that you not set goals.  I am recommending that you hack the potential of failure by setting up systems that will support your goals. I agree that it takes goals to achieve.  I also believe that our focus on systems should be higher than our goals.

Systems that are maintained through evaluation, with a mechanism for an objective interpretation of failure.  Consider systems when you set your fitness goals for next year to increase your chances of not being in the 73% that give up in the New Year.

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.#hackingfailure

Learn more about Hacking Failure

If you want to learn from your failures click here to subscribe to my blog for in-depth content.   


Shane Lester

Author pages:

Learn more about systems vs. goals through my books.

The Value of Failure  will help you embrace failure and learn from it. 

Hacking Failure is a system that will help you pivot from mistakes and shortcut to success.

bothbooks

Buy both now on Amazon for $3 bucks.

 

 

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4 Failure Hacks for Creating Corporate Goals in 2017

Drawing upon several sources from small business to personal goal setting the outlook is bleak in either scenario for keeping or achieving your goals next year. 

According to INC.com “More than 80 percent of the 300 small business owners surveyed in the recent 4th Annual Staples National Small Business Survey said that they don’t keep track of their business goals, and 77 percent have yet to achieve their vision for their company.

  • Americans spent $11 billion in 2008 on self-improvement.
  • 99% fail after attending a seminar. 70% don’t meet goals set at beginning of the year
  •  80 percent of people never set goals for themselves. And of the 20 percent of the population that does set goals, roughly 70 percent fail to achieve the goals they have set for themselves.

A new study finds 73% Of People Who Set Fitness Goals As New Year’s Resolutions Give Them Up.

Whether in the micro and macro world of goal setting failure can be predictable.

However, as we all approach a new year of goal setting I suspect that little attention and effort is given to analyzing goals that failed last year.  It is human and corporate nature to move forward and marginalize the past. 

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By embracing the reality of failure, before we set goals as an organization, I predict that strategists could make plans and create winning objectives to better support those next year goals.

To help you embrace the impact of failure from last year and prepare for next year, I have provided 4 failure hacks for creating corporate goals in 2017.

  1. Evaluate
  2. Plan
  3. Pivot
  4. Recalibrate

read more on Hackingfailure.com

 

 

 

Cognitive Dissonance of the 2016 Presidential Election

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Many years ago when I designed training programs I would occasionally use a learning strategy called Cognitive Dissonance as a way to integrate new knowledge and skills into the mental schema of my learners.

Cognitive Dissonance is a theory first developed by social psychologist Leon Festinger. It proposes that we seek consistency in our beliefs and attitudes in any situation where two cognitions are inconsistent.

A classic example is:

“Most people want to hold the belief that they make good choices when purchasing products. However, when a product or item we purchase turns out badly, it conflicts with our previously existing belief about our decision-making abilities.” -Kendra Cherry, Very Well

Read the rest of the blog on Medium   http://bit.ly/2g0qmCt

The Trump Dissonance Factor may feel overwhelming for some so soon after the election, but eventually we will be able to remove the emotion from this failure and when we do, we can begin the reconciliation of our political constructs.

Job Interview: Don’t fear the failure question!

How do you talk about failure in a job interview?

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One of the most frequent questions asked during a job interview is about your past failures. 

They may not be as blunt as I’m being, they may phrase it like this: “What have you learned from your mistakes, or what are your weaknesses?”

Let’s face it, they are asking about your failures.

Why do they ask this question?

César Castillo Bertellim is a Sr. Technical Talent Acquisition Manager for The Royak Group, Inc. in Atlanta, Georgia, and he gave me this insight:

“This particular question is in essence a Behavioral Interview Question. Hiring managers and recruiters usually ask this question to find out about past job performance and in my opinion, this is a very good way to predict future job performance and helps the selection of the best candidate.”

According to Livecareer.com,  “The real reason why interviewers ask about your biggest failure is that it reveals a lot about you–your ability to take risks, face challenges, acknowledge your mistakes and learn from them. The most important thing to remember when answering this question is that it really isn’t about what you did wrong. It’s about how you handled a difficult situation and what you learned from it.”

How should you answer the question?

Tanya Covert is Talent Acquisition Business Partner at HCA Mountain Division:  She said this: “Be open, honest and concise. Share the failure, the situation and circumstances but even more importantly be prepared to communicate what you learned from that experience and how it made you a better employee or helped you refine a skill that is on your personal career growth agenda. We all make mistakes. Telling us as recruiters or hiring managers that you can’t think of something or having something that is a small error with NO real learning involved doesn’t show me that you have the ability to make a mistake, own it and most importantly grow from it. I admire and will put forth a candidate that really shines when responding to this question so be prepared for it by doing some real soul searching prior to the interview.”

Supporting that advice, César said this:  “…do not shy away from it and come up with an example of a failure. After giving a good example of a failure, the candidate always should close with a couple of positive bullet points as follow:

1) This is what I have learned from failure….

2) I take smart risk, sometimes could end up in failure

3) Differentiate between failure and weakness

4) I know how to fail smart and I learn from mistakes”

 

What I learned from both Tanya and César is that to be authentic and answer the question effectively you should think about this question before the interview and think clearly about what you have learned from your failures.

Maybe you should create a failure resume? 

In 2015, on the Today Show, I heard about a person who sent in a resume of their failures when applying for a job.  His name is Jeff Scardino and he called this resume of failures a Relevant Résumé.  Jeff decided to send out Relevant Résumé as a test.  The experiment was to see what resume format would elicit the more responses.  Using two different names, he sent a regular résumé and the Relevant Résumé to ten companies. He got one response and zero meeting requests from the regular résumé and eight responses and five meeting requests from its relevant counterpart.

As a result of this story, thousands of genuine job-hunters have now downloaded his Relevant Résumé template from his website. Of course what Jeff Scardino did was stand out from a sea of resumes.

 

Before you craft well thought-out list of your failures for a new resume, be aware that while you might stand out initially, this gimmick only has legs for a moment.  You still have to be selected and deliver a powerful interview.  A failure resume may not be the best idea for you, but what you could do is think about a particular failure that you want to talk about during an interview session.

 

The timing of this story about a Relevant Résumé was serendipitous.  Scardino’s Failure Résumé became a motivating factor to for me to continue writing about my failures.  It was around this time in my life that I started the research for what would eventually become a book titled The Value of Failure.   Spending a year evaluating all of my major career failures sounds depressing and at first it kind of was, but then it became liberating.

What I learned in writing this book is a new framework for accepting and learning from your failures. It might be one thing to list all of your failures in a resume, but the honest question here is have you learned from any of your failures?  If not, then I recommend that your take a hard look at your life like I did.

 

In my research for The Value of Failure I came up with a high level framework for learning from failure called A.C.E.

  • Accountability
  • Curiosity
  • Evaluation

Accountability for your failures:

According to Linda Galindo, a consultant specializing in individual and leadership accountability and author of the 85% Solution:

“If your mind-set is that you’re at least 85% responsible for your success—and that just 15% depends on the way the wind blows—you’ll likely be successful.  If you blame your problems and failures—big or small, personal or professional—on other people, circumstances beyond your control, or just plain bad luck, you may be doomed to fail.”

The lack of accountability occurs because we deny that a failure occurred.  The effect of denial was a central theme in Tim Harford book Adapt. In talking about the effects of denial he said: “It seems to be the hardest thing in the world to admit we’ve made a mistake” If you can’t own a failure then you can’t make it right. The feeling of denial often occurs because of our erroneous definition of failure.  No breakthrough in your life will occur if you remain in denial about your reality.  Worse than denial is to double down and try to overcome the failure with more action and more effort all pointed in the wrong direction?  Harford gave this example of how poker players who’ve just lost some money are primed to make riskier bets than they’d normally take, in a hasty attempt to win the lost money back and “erase” the mistake.

The last effect of denial happens when we mislabel a failure or try to paint it a different shade in the effort to convince ourselves that the mistake doesn’t matter or that it wasn’t a failure in the first place.  When we revise our own history we are setting ourselves up to repeat our failures.

If you can recognize these psychological effects then you can begin to be accountable and then make correct reactions to failure.

Curiosity as to why you failed:

According to Roger S. Gil a mental health clinician that specializes in marriage and family therapy: “The key to recognize and address denial is to pay attention to recurring negative themes. Recurring negative themes (e.g. a series of harmful relationships, negative side effects related to an addictive behavior, etc.) are good red flags for denial. Chances are that we are either creating an environment that is conducive to the negative outcome we don’t want or fooling ourselves into thinking that we have control over a situation that we really are helpless to affect. If you see a recurring theme, know that you’re probably denying a truth.”

Psychiatrist and addiction expert Judson Brewer has conducted research in the area of behavior sciences and proposes that curiosity is a key factor in changing your behavior.

His research suggests that “instead of fighting our brains, or trying to force ourselves to pay attention, we instead tapped into this natural, reward-based learning process? What if instead we just got really curious about what was happening in our momentary experience? As we learn to see more and more clearly the results of our actions, we let go of old habits and form new ones.

Mindfulness is just about being really interested in getting close and personal with what’s actually happening in our bodies and minds from moment to moment. This willingness to turn toward our experience rather than trying to make unpleasant cravings go away as quickly as possible. And this willingness to turn toward our experience is supported by curiosity, which is naturally rewarding.”

Curiosity with intent to understand why you failed can open up new insights and place you in prime positon to change your behavior and thus change outcomes.

 Evaluate and Learn from your failures:

An example from Investopedia.com shows both clear evaluation of the failure and then how to create a system to avoid future failure: “My biggest failure was when I lost a half a million dollar deal because I wasn’t prepared enough to impress them, compared to my competitors. After I heard the news, I called the company back and managed to win some of the business back by sweetening the deal. I didn’t get all of the $500,000, but I now have a checklist of everything I would need to have prepared the next time.

What you have done in your career or life should be testament to what you have learned from you failures.  You should be able to articulate what you have learned and how you judgment has changed because of those experiences.

Feedback on your performance or on projects from others is a great evaluation system.  When you get feedback “It’s important to be dispassionate at times about the feedback you receive or perceive.” –Harford.   Failures can stir up deep emotions.  At times you need to look beyond the words of feedback and see it in context.

The key driver in getting feedback and removing emotion is to remember, that regardless of how bad things are or how bad you perceive them to be, you are wining because you know the truth and the cost and benefits of moving forward are worth paying.

As Tim Hartford said. “Being able to recognize a failure just means that you’ll be able to re-cast it into something more likely to succeed.”

 

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How to prepare for the failure question:

 

Keep in mind, to have a successful job interview must frame your answers and questions in a way that plays to your accomplishments and strengths.  The question about failures is another way to frame the interview in your favor if you are prepared.

 

According to Career Nook by Ronnie Ann, “To answer the question effectively, you want to go through your work history and come up with an example of something that went wrong or a mistake you made or a project that failed where you found a way to turn things around – or at least learned a lesson that you can show you later applied successfully.

Just remember that the idea is to have something that isn’t TOO bad that shows your resilience, determination, problem solving skills and a sense of someone they can trust to handle things even if things go wrong!”

 

Lily Zhang who serves as a Career Development Specialist at MIT writing for The Muse said this:

  1. Pick a Real Failure
  2. Define Failure in Your Own Words
  3. Tell Your Story
  4. Share What You Learned

“Again, this is a time to be real. Talk about real failure, not the B+ you got in Introduction to Psychology. Maybe it was a group project that wasn’t meeting deadlines or a miscommunication with your supervisor during a previous internship—the failure doesn’t need to be huge. It just needs to involve a mistake that you can reflect on thoughtfully. Interviewers are less interested in making you cry and more interested in seeing how you handle setbacks. Do you bounce back? Ask for feedback? Learn from your mistakes? Talk about the failure and, most importantly, discuss the lessons you learned from the experience.”-  Alison Doyle, The Balance.

Finally keep in mind what not to say:

Doyle continues, “Avoid references to any failures that expose inadequacies that limit your ability to carry out core components of the job.

The only exception to this rule would be if you could tell a very compelling story about how you eliminated those weaknesses.  But again, be careful. You don’t want to leave the employer with the impression that you don’t have the qualifications to succeed on the job.”

 

Remember no one wants to hire a person who cannot learn from their mistakes. Failure is agnostic and has no meaning unless you apply meaning to it.  If you failed and then learned from the failure, you are on the right path, in fact, a path that the successful all follow.

 

Please let me know if this blog helped you prepare for a job interview.

 


Shane Lester-

Author of the new book: Hacking Failure and The Value of Failure

“This book will change everything you thought you knew about failure.”

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Learn more about Shane and his blog: Learning From Your Failures

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5 Failure Hacks

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You’ve messed up, you’ve made a mistake, and you have failed.  So now what?  Are there things that you can do to hack failure and get back on track?

The following failure hacks are things that successful people do when everything goes wrong.

If you apply these hacks you’ll be able to get through a failure faster and come out smarter on the other side.

Remember the goal is not to avoid failure.  The real goal is to learn and to learn fast and learn what you need to learn so that you can be successful.

Here are Five Failure Hacks:

  1. Stop
  2. Be curious
  3. Fail fast
  4. Learn fast
  5. Try again

Hack #1:   Stop = Avoid denial – Be accountable

The most common emotional response to failure is denial.  We simple don’t accept that something is wrong. Frankly, most of time we find comfort in our denial. We can rationalize that life is just difficult and other people seem to have all of the luck.  There are many reasons that we create to keep us comfortable in denial.

Why do we live in denial?   In Psychology today, Carl Alasko Ph.D. said it this way.

“Denying those facts allows you to keep moving rather than stopping and facing the painful restrictions and demands of reality.”

Some denial can be life threating.  Unhealthy behavior, such as addiction, risk-taking, or overeating are threats to your body.  Other threats such as and abusive relationship, a job that exploits you, a boss that torments you are mentally threating.

Unfortunately, most people won’t recognize the harmful situation of denial until they are deeply mired in the tar of failure.  And even then, if they do recognize the full situation, they can still avoid the pain and the truth by not fully accepting their failure. 

The effects of denial are vividly apparent when persons are lost in the wilderness.  The mantra for overcoming the effects of denial in a survival situation are revealed in this acronym.  STOP.

‘S’- This is for stop. Take a deep breath and sit down. The first step is to simply acknowledge, that you are lost. No more denial.  This act will kick in the rational part of the mind. 

‘T’- This is for think. Don’t do anything at all until you assess your situation.

‘O’- This is for observe. This should be done in conjunction with the thinking stage. What do you see around you that could help? What’s the terrain like? How about the weather?

‘P’- This is for plan — survival plan. Once you’ve observed the terrain, thought about all the possible scenarios, and generally accepted your situation, it’s time for the plan. First take care of immediate issues like injuries, a storm on the horizon, etc.

Once you recognize the effects of denial then you need to be accountable for the choices you made that placed you a position where denial became your security blanket.

According to Linda Galindo, a consultant specializing in individual and leadership accountability and author of the 85% Solution:

“If your mind-set is that you’re at least 85% responsible for your success—and that just 15% depends on the way the wind blows—you’ll likely be successful.  If you blame your problems and failures—big or small, personal or professional—on other people, circumstances beyond your control, or just plain bad luck, you may be doomed to fail.”

Galindo then outlines a three-step process to be accountable:

1.  Responsibility

Responsibility is not something you do—it’s a way of thinking and being.

2. Self-empowerment

By empowering yourself, you take the actions—and the risks—to achieve a result and get what you want.

3. Personal accountability

Unlike responsibility (the “before”) and self-empowerment (the “during”), personal accountability is the “after”. It’s a willingness to answer for the outcomes of your choices, actions, and behaviors.

We shouldn’t confuse moving forward with moving in the right direction.  The most liberating moment in your life is when you stop blaming, stop the denial and become accountable for your life and more importantly how you have set up your life for better things and success.  If you can realize the full measure of your accountability for your life, then you have the power to make a change.

 

Hack #2:  Be curious = Ask why – Seek pattern recognition – Embrace new behaviors

According to Roger S. Gil a mental health clinician that specializes in marriage and family therapy:

“The key to recognize and address denial is to pay attention to recurring negative themes. Recurring negative themes (e.g. a series of harmful relationships, negative side effects related to an addictive behavior, etc.) are good red flags for denial. Chances are that we are either creating an environment that is conducive to the negative outcome we don’t want or fooling ourselves into thinking that we have control over a situation that we really are helpless to affect. If you see a recurring theme, know that you’re probably denying a truth.”

Psychiatrist and addiction expert Judson Brewer has conducted research in the area of behavior sciences and proposes that curiosity is a key factor in changing your behavior.

His research suggests that “instead of fighting our brains, or trying to force ourselves to pay attention, we instead tapped into this natural, reward-based learning process? What if instead we just got really curious about what was happening in our momentary experience? As we learn to see more and more clearly the results of our actions, we let go of old habits and form new ones.

 Mindfulness is just about being really interested in getting close and personal with what’s actually happening in our bodies and minds from moment to moment. This willingness to turn toward our experience rather than trying to make unpleasant cravings go away as quickly as possible. And this willingness to turn toward our experience is supported by curiosity, which is naturally rewarding.”

Hack #3:  Fail fast- when you try new things try the hard part first 

Astro Teller is an entrepreneur, inventor, and author.  He worked as the “Captain of Moonshots” for X -formerly called Google X.

He reveals the secret of their success.  “We spend most of our time breaking things and trying to prove that we’re wrong. That’s it, that’s the secret. Run at all the hardest parts of the problem first. The only way to get people to work on big, risky things — audacious ideas — and have them run at all the hardest parts of the problem first, [and you do this by making] that the path of least resistance for them.” And Google X does this by making it safe to fail.

According to Teller: “Teams kill their ideas as soon as the evidence is on the table because they’re rewarded for it. They get applause from their peers. Hugs and high fives from their manager, me in particular. They get promoted for it. We have bonused every single person on teams that ended their projects”

This supports the observations of Tim Harford the author of Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure, “Google fails a lot, but they learn fast.  Google values failure in the following ways:

1) Discerning why you failed and applying that to future projects; and

2) Speed to fail fast and early before investing more than necessary or damaging your brand.

 Seth Godin is an author, entrepreneur, and public speaker and he put it this way:  “If you accept the fact that the person who fails the most wins you can then accept that the act of putting good effort into something that fails is actually a key part of your job.”

Hack #4:  Learn Fast = Be an active learner

There are three key attributes of how successful people learn from their failures.

Frist, successful people have learned when to pivot from their failures.  If you can’t do that, then you are stuck in a loop and you will fail again. They know when to give up and when to go forward. They know how to properly interpret a failure based upon what they know and have learned about themselves or their pursuit in life, and they make changes based upon new understandings. See my blog “Should you give up” and the example of Richard Branson.

Second, they know what to learn to be successful. If you can evaluate and process a failure event you can see what you lacked in terms of knowledge, skills or attitudes that contributed to your failure.  Once you realize this, you know what you need to do to learn to avoid future failures.

Lastly, successful people know how they learn best. The higher the stakes the sharper our mind becomes.  Successful people know how to process information and they know how their mind works best in learning mode.  They also have awareness of the patterns within systems, people and within themselves. They construct targeted – on the fly – learning strategies for success.  In other words they are active learners and they don’t waste time learning things that don’t help them overcome a failure.

You can become an active learner by following these steps.

 

  • Recognize your thinking processes in terms of the kind of learner you are. Are you more visual or auditory or tactical learner?
  • Develop a self-regulation system: plan how to proceed with a learning task, monitoring your performance on an ongoing basis, and evaluating your learning efficiency.
  • Understand the similarity between the current learning task and previous ones, know the strategies required for successful learning, and anticipate success as a result of knowing how to learn.
  • Articulate how you learn best. Be aware of the strategies that led you to success outcomes and recognize the value of using them again.

 

Hack #5:  Try Again:  Find the courage and value of failure

John C. Maxwell is a leadership expert and author.  In his book Failing Forward he outlines numerous examples that show how perceiving and responding to failure determines whether you will be an average or an achieving person.

Maxwell’s Failing Forward is a 15-step method to achieving success through and with failure. I won’t go over all 15 steps here but here are a few steps.

 Step #2.  Learn a new definition of failure.  Here Maxwell is trying to help us understand that failure is a good and powerful learning mechanism.

Step #4. Take action and remove fear.  One of the biggest problems is the stunning effect failure can have upon us. We should not wallow in failure too long. In fact the longer you take to recover, the longer it will take you to be successful.

Step #8.  Change your responses to failure by accepting responsibility. The blame game is a game that winners don’t play.

 

Tim Harford is an English economist and journalist.  In this book Adapt he outlines three principles for productive failure:

 Frist, Try new things.

“Expose yourself to lots of different ideas and try lots of different approaches, on the grounds that failure is common.”

Then Experiment where failure is survivable.

“Look for experimental approaches where there’s lots to learn – projects with small downsides but bigger upsides. Too often we take on projects where the cost of failure is prohibitive, and just hope for the best.”

Lastly, Recognize when you haven’t succeeded.

“This third principle is the easiest to state and the hardest to stick to: But you must understand when you’ve failed.”

 

Every successful person has failed. In an October 2016 article in Forbes, Kevin Kruse declared we should be “A Failure Pioneer”.  He said:  “Where does courage and determination come from, and can they be learned? Make a list of entrepreneurs you admire and who have made a difference to the world. They could be living or dead. The chances are they all have one outstanding quality in common: they are failure pioneers.”

Take FailCon founder Cass Phillipps. She helps entrepreneurs learn from their own and others’ failures. The company’s motto is “Embrace your mistakes. Build your success.” Picking yourself up off the ground after yet another setback gets tiring after a while. FailCon aims to turn failure into a process for instant learning and review. As Mauri says, ‘The take home message here: learn fast, fail cheap and remember that failure isn’t the opposite of success; it’s a stepping stone to success.”

In an interview with Hack The Entrepreneur, Seth Godin gave this advice in how to view failure.

“Failures don’t even affect me anymore. They brush off me so much easier. Things that would have wiped me out and devastated me for a day or two days or a week or a month even, don’t even bother me anymore.  It’s a part of the process. It’s a part of the process of getting good at something, of mastering something, of building a business. It’s making mistakes and dealing with the failure and knowing that that is part of your job.”

After a year of research while writing my book The Value of Failure I came to this conclusion about failure.

Failure means nothing unless you can learn from it.

Remember, any failure can shake you to the core.  How we overcome a failure is what makes the difference.  Conversely, most of us have had some level of success or positive affirmation. Knowing what each means, success and failure, not only determines your direction in life but can make you happy.   

These failure hacks will give you insight into how you can learn from your failures and push forward.  If you can learn, you can hack failure.   

 5failhacks


Shane Lester-

Author of the new book: Hacking Failure

“This book will change everything you thought you knew about failure.”

Learn more about Shane and his blog: Learning From Your Failures

#hackingfailure

#valueoffailure

Facebook – @hackingfailure

 

 

 

Should You Give Up?

Should you give up when you fail at something?  Maybe!  That is really the truthful answer.

giveUp_croped

There are many types of failure in many aspects of our lives.  We may fail at relationships, academic pursuits, or in our careers and business endeavors.  I could speak to each of those areas but let me generalize a few insights that will help you learn to recognize and learn from failure.
Research has shown that that 70 percent of us fail to achieve the goals they we have set for ourselves.  This tells me that failure is inevitable.  But most of us don’t need research to tell us this.  We feel it and we have lived it.
Deciding when to give up or press on is one of the feedback mechanism that failure offers you.  Failure may inform you to make a critical change in your path that may lead to the success you have been seeking. On the other hand, failure might be indicating that you are on the wrong course and you need to pivot form your current path and go in a completely different direction.  If you don’t head this feedback you might spend year’s picking up the pieces from a cascade of failures.
Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker. Failure is delay, not defeat. It is a temporary detour, not a dead end. Failure is something we can avoid only by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.” – Denis Waitley

If failure is such a great teacher why aren’t we learning?

Unlike a real teacher who has you in a captive setting, failure is more like a tutor that only shows up to teach you something if you ask for help and if you spend the energy to learn the lesson.
Here are four reasons why we fail:
  • We fail for reasons:
  • That are self-evident
  • That are unknown
  • That you mislabel
  • You recognize but do not take action upon

 

I have had rich life experiences and I have failed for all of these reasons. In retrospect, if I could fully comprehend and calculate the full measure of my failures back then, maybe I could have recognized the path forward and changed a few outcomes?

Self-evident failures

Having the wrong attitude, the wrong knowledge, and a lack of skills are self-evident attributes that are contributing factors to most failure.  Lacking one of these attributes is somewhat self-evident why you failed.  You didn’t study of the test, you didn’t prepare for the meeting, and you said the wrong thing.  All failures that you created if you are brave enough to acknowledge them.

Even though some of these failures are self-evident to the rational mind, they may not be that evident to us when we are in the middle of them and looking at failure through the prism of emotion.

Unknown reasons for failure

It is also possible that you are doing all the right things but for some reason success doesn’t flow in your direction.  At that moment and perhaps for years later why you failed can seem like a mystery.  Sadly without examination those failures can lay dormant and remain a mystery. I would submit that while some reasons will remain a mystery, many reasons for failure can be unearthed and examined to help you learn from them.
If you’re in a spiral of failure but don’t know why it is probably because you are not appreciating their value and you are not learning from them.  The good thing about a failure is that it doesn’t have an expiration date.  You can learn from them long after their initial impact.  I further propose that if you go deep enough and become accountable for your life those failures of the past will make sense to you and the mystery will be solved.

Mislabeled failures

More damaging to your soul is when failures are mislabeled.  We can call this blame.  When you think you are doing everything right, but you later find out you were wrong this can be a sobering moment.  For a multitude of bad reasons you can completely miss the point of a failure event.
Many years ago as a new product manager I was succeeding in many areas of my job, but I later came to understand I was failing in other aspects.   The general manger of my division made this comment after a group presentation:  “how can your product be successful and not sale?”  I was doing 80%of my job right but ignoring the other 20%.  At that moment I didn’t learn anything from my failure.  I didn’t dig in and learn about why my product wasn’t selling, instead I blamed my sales team for lack of sales.  My failures were both mislabeled and simultaneously recognized by me but I failed to take corrective action.

Failures that you don’t act upon

I could see the failure.  It was in mathematical terms.  My product wasn’t selling. However, the failure didn’t teach my anything because I was unwilling to learn. It is important to note that recognizing failure is only the start of gaining value from that analysis.  In my example, if I would recognized my failure I may have stopped short by saying to myself “Yeah my product is not selling and I don’t understand 20% of my job.  I’m stupid. The end.”  I think, even for the self-conscious and for the seekers of success, we often just let a failure like this have that level impact.  We deflect, we set a new goal and move on.  We don’t seek to understand if our attitude, knowledge, or skills are contributing factor to our failure.
What I should have done is recognize my failure and then created a learning strategy that would have helped me understand what is missing from my tool kit as a product manager.
If a failure is going to help you become more, become better, or become successful you need to not only recognize that you failed, but I need that experience to inform your strategy or system for becoming better.
In hindsight I should have said is:  “Wow I need to own this, I need to learn more about product marketing and software development and what it takes to keep a product healthy.  If I learn this now I’ll be in a better place in my career later and I’ll place myself in the crosshair of luck/ opportunity.”
However, my initial reaction is somewhat typical. I was not rational, but emotional and I just cracked that experience up to – wow my boss is a jerk – and tried to pick up my self-esteem.
So don’t do that!  Be smarter than me.

What should you learn from your failures?

The story arch here is that this failure was so profound and its impact so deep that it has taken me over 6 years to place that experience within a learning framework, which has helped me pivot and truly learn from that failure.  I recommend that you avoid letting a failure taint you for years as it did me.  There is a difference between learning from your failures and using what you learned to make a change. If I had a system then, like I have now, I would have known how to react, how to process that event, and how to move forward in a more positive manner.
In John C. Maxwell’s book Failing Forward, he illustrates this point by relating a story about John James Audubon, who we know now as the founder of the Audubon society.
In the early 1800’s Audubon was involved in several trading and manufacturing business that all failed.  Some of these were simply bad timing.  For example he started a trading business with England right before the war of 1812. That of course devastated his prospects.  What Audubon was good at was hunting and drawing.  In fact he used his artistry as a meager part of his income for most of his adult life before he became published.
In 1826, now at the age of 41, Audubon was able to publish his book and found great success in those endeavors.
JJA

 

In contrast let’s take a look at Richard Branson.   Branson is a billionaire, an entrepreneurs and viewed as an overall model for success.  But his track record shows that he fails perhaps as much as he succeeds.  Most of his Virgin product lines have failed while other have succeeded.  Branson, I submit, knew when to quit and when to stick with the right investment or business.  His failures didn’t inform him to change careers, rather they confirmed his overall direction.  He pushed forward and in most respects he is successful.

virgin-branson

If your goal is to become a successful entrepreneur and the failures of companies on long the way fits within your system as you keep learning and perfecting your skills than you are well aligned with Branson and everything might work out for you.

If you were not well suited for business and you’re more like an Audubon, then failure should inform you that you need to change your course and do what you’re good at, which is what Audubon did and then he became a success.

In her article “Strategies for Learning from Failure” Amy C. Edmondson said “Once a failure has been detected, it’s essential to go beyond the obvious and superficial reasons for it to understand the root causes. This requires the discipline—better yet, the enthusiasm—to use sophisticated analysis to ensure that the right lessons are learned and the right remedies are employed.”

One of the keys to know if you are on the right track or if your plan is wrong is by taking this simple litmus test when failure occurs.  Is your failure today the result of a long string of bad decisions or is the failure of today isolated to the events of the day?  I think success comes to those who can interpret, categorize and segregate failures so that they don’t cripple their dreams.

No matter the type of failure, try not to fail, but if you must fail, fail the best way you can. Don’t try to avoid all risk, but set yourself up so that you can pivot from your mistakes. If failure paralyzes your momentum you need to recognize what failure is trying to teach you and then move in a purposeful direction.

The real trick is to be able to learn and learn rapidly form your failures.  If you have created a system for success (whatever that might mean to you) it is much easier to learn and pivot from a failure.

If you don’t have a system that helps you react and process a failure events you can get stuck, and in doing so, you don’t move toward anything productive.  You simply let the dark tar of failure simmer in your soul.

If failure is inevitable then success is contingent upon your perceptions, actions and recovery from a failure.  From that informed point of view you can rationally build a learning strategy to change your attitude, update your skills or knowledge.


most-interesting-man-in-the-world_I LEARN

Learn more:  Read my new book The Value of Failure.


Shane Lester is the Author of the new book: The Value of Failure

“This book will change everything you thought you knew about failure.”

Learn more about Shane and his blog: Learning From Your Failures

#hackingfailure

@hackingfailure