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Failure is instructive. It's a learning moment!

Failure is misunderstood

Do you know the most dangerous word standing between you getting smarter and better is "routine?" It has this uncanny, strange ability to make you irrelevant. But, then, why do we like it so much? What stops us from breaking the routine and finding new ways, better ways to do things?

Fear of failure is perhaps the top one among many other reasons, and that fear is driven by three factors. 

The first one is how we see failures. It has to do with our mindset. Most of us want to impress others. And even if we can't, we sure don't want to look bad. 

The second is how we think. How we think independently and how we use our full mind power in doing that. 

And thirdly, the confusion about what to do with all this? If we've got the right mindset...If we learn to think independently, how do we try things out? How do we experiment? How do we create learning moments for us?

Talking about learning moments, you might know about a product called WD-40. The name is abbreviated for "Water Displacement, 40th formula." The chemists who worked on it tried 39 times to find the right formula, and on the 40th time, they were successful. I recently spoke with the Chairman and CEO of WD-40 Company, Garry Ridge. Listen to what he says about failure and learning moments at his company.

Failures are facts of life, but they are misunderstood.

You see, the point is failures are facts of life, but they are misunderstood. So the best way to deal with failure is to understand what it actually means and change our mental model for good.

In my view, failure is an unexpected outcome of our actions. It is just the gap between our estimates or forecast and actual results. The gap can be positive, or it can be negative. The outcomes of our actions can sometimes be better than expected or worse than we expected. But in both ways, there is a gap, and therefore, there is some learning.

Failure is the gap between our estimates or forecast and actual results, but either way, it is instructive!

I remember a famous quote by John Dewey saying, "Failure is instructive. The person who really thinks learns quite as much from his failures as from his successes."

So we need to be trying new things, different things and learn from the outcomes. There is an interesting story about a wise man and his student...

The student asks him, "What's the secret to happiness?"

The wise man says, "Having a good judgement."

The student says, "Ok. And, how do I learn to have a good judgement?"

"By getting more experience."

"How do I get more experience?"

He says, "Learn from your bad judgements!"

This is where experimentation becomes essential. It's a core competency. And getting better at it can significantly help 'you' to get better, get smarter.

So, tell me - how will you try new things, different things? How will you create some learning moments for yourself?

The most dangerous word standing between you getting smarter and better is "routine."

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