Make It Happen. Failure Is Your Only Choice.
Pick a card. Any card. If it’s the ace of spades, you win.
What would your strategy be? What’s the best strategy?
Most people would get paralyzed over such a decision. But here’s the kicker – is it true that you can only draw ONE card? What if you could draw multiple cards?
Fail As Fast As You Can.
In the above scenario, what would be the fastest way to win – to draw the ace of spades? The answer is simple. To draw as many times as you can, as fast as you can, right? It’s really simple. The first step to be able to do that is to realise that many times, we think that we can only draw ONCE. But is that really true? Can we only do ONE business? Or only ONE exam? Or only ONE date? The truth is that in most cases, you can try and try again and again and again, and sooner or later, you draw the ace.
Err… hold up. That’s not true. If I fail and go bankrupt, it’s all over!
Yes! You’re right! Which is why you need to fail gracefully as well. What that means is that you take experiments and attempts that you can come back from. There is always a version of your project or business that you can all-in on, and there’s a version of your project or business that doesn’t cost much. Here’s an example in the context of opening a new restaurant.
Option 1: You could spend 1 million dollars getting a really fancy restaurant and have really fancy renovation and interior design and you could succeed, and make 3 million at the end of the year.
Option 2: Or you could spend 100 dollars doing up your kitchen and inviting your friends over for a paid dinner where you could make no money at all.
Many people would think… oh dayum! 3 million! Let’s gooooo!
But here’s the thing. If you fail in option 1, would you be able to draw another card? Most people would not be able to. Losing 1 million dollars takes most people out of the game.
On the other hand, option 2, while it doesn’t make any money at all, it allows you to draw the next card. Screwing up option 2 means the learnings that you get from that failure can be carried forward into the next attempt, thus making it meaningful.
And that brings us to the other element in failing gracefully.
You Only Fail When You Don’t Learn
You could look at a context as success or failure. Or you could look at a context as success or learning – either you win, or you have taken another step towards winning – both of which are good. The only time you lose, is when you don’t learn. Everytime you fail, take a breath to think – what have I learnt from this experience? Being smart about your failures helps you get to success FASTER.
How To Get Picture Perfection!
Many fall into the trap of paralysis by analysis, waiting for the perfect plan, the perfect moment. The idea of getting it right on the first try is really romantic and unrealistic – action definitely trumps perfection.
There was an experiment done where a lecturer split his class into 2. To one half, he said, you will be graded based on the number of photos you take. Take 100 photos, and you pass. To the other half, he said, you will be graded based on one single photo. Make sure you take the best photo you can come up with.
Which half do you think had the best photos?
Surprisingly, ALL of the best photos came from the group that had to take 100 photos. The other group spent so much time thinking and planning their photos, while the first group spent their time taking photos, failing, learning and improving.
Which Card Will You Pick?
So what’s the lesson here? It’s not which card you will pick, that’s the question. The real question should be WHEN will you start picking?