Maximize the Failure Rate

This is a reminder to myself.  It’s about failure, which is a paradoxically fantastic thing if you have the right attitude.  Let me describe the attitude I am working to gain.

  • If you fail three times in a week, make a goal of trying (and possibly failing) five times the next week.  Failure is the right thing as long as you’re trying sincerely and the rate of failures is increasing, or you’re failing less each time.
  • You won’t succeed at really complex things until you’ve failed a lot first, so your best bet is to fail as fast as possible.  Enjoy the journey!
  • Mere repetition isn’t sufficient.  After each failure, try something significantly different.
  • Report and graph the failures.  Talk about them.  Things that get reported tend to improve.
  • Goals need to be simple, but some goals are inherently complex.  You can simplify a goal by maximizing the rate of failing to achieve the goal.
  • If rapid iterations of failure are not possible due to circumstances outside your control, fail in parallel!  Try many things at once.  Don’t forget to report on all of the failures.
  • When you finally do succeed, continue to try other things.  In other words, keep failing!

This is particularly applicable to small business.  Discouragement resulting from failures can spread like a disease.  However, the “maximize the failure rate” attitude can make you immune to that kind of discouragement.

Wrong attitude: “We failed.  Maybe we should give up.”

Right attitude: “We failed again?  Ye-haw, that means success is closer!  Now how can we fail faster (or less expensively) next time?”

2 thoughts on “Maximize the Failure Rate”

  1. On of the best blog comments I have read for a long time. You are absolutely correct. You have only failed when you quit trying. Thomas Edison tried 1,500 different light bulb filaments before he found one that would work. Each failure made him a little smarter till he found the solution. But, what if he had stopped at 1,499? That would have been failure yet he was so close. However, failure #1,499 made him a little smarter and # 1,500 was the winner! Sometimes we don’t even know how close to success we are so we must keep trying. What if we are at failure # 1,499 and then do not try # 1,500. That would be a tragedy.

  2. What an awesome blog! Did you know that most millionaires and billionaires preach the same thing? The most successful people in the world are those who have made the most mistakes. Maximizing your failures maximizes your success because it gets you out doing more, and learning more, and there’s no better teacher than experience.

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