Photo by John muldoon

How To Never Fail At Anything 

(ever again)

If you’re like me, you might put a lot of pressure on yourself to “succeed” at things. To write a successful blog post, or launch a successful product, or have asuccessful interaction or meeting or date.

The emphasis on success brings a ton of extra pressure to a situation. It’s pressure we invent for ourselves. That pressure causes stress, and the last thing you need is extra stress in your life. Right?

Forget About Success

One way to never fail at anything, and to remove that pressure and stress is to look at things from a different angle.

Instead of trying to succeed at something, try framing what you’re doing as an experiment instead.

There’s no such thing as a failed experiment, not really. Sure, maybe your hypothesis won’t always be proven, but that’s not the same thing as failing. If your hypothesis isn’t proven, you just learned something you didn’t expect to learn. That’s hardly a failure. If your goal is to experiment and learn something, it’s pretty hard to fail.

Shift Your Goal

Let’s say you want to launch a new product. I know from experience that product creation can be extremely stressful. But what if you changed the goal?

Instead of “trying to launch a successful product” you could simply “launch an experimental product”.

That may just seem like semantics, but it isn’t. Read it again. It’s a shift of focus, that will ultimately lead to a better outcome (and probably a better product) anyway.

Look at Google Labs. Gmail was an experimental product, kept in “beta” mode for years. It evolved over time into something better. If it was launched with a single rigid goal, it might have “failed”.

The startup that pivots is a great example of embracing the experimental process. The Lean Startup by Eric Ries is a great book for any rigid founder to read.

I used to be one of those rigid entrepreneurs who “tried and failed”. Now I just try things, observe, learn and move forward (or sideways, or not). Oddly enough, I probably have had more success this way, and I’m definitely not as stressed out.

You Already Do This

If you want to buy a new car and you take one model for a test drive, and you don’t really like the car, would you say that was a “failed test drive”? No, it’s just a mini experiment where you learned something useful. Not a big deal.

There’s so much energy about failing that gets in our way. If we let go of that energy, I believe we can accomplish a lot more because we’ll try more stuff.

Failing vs. Learning

If you had the success vs. failure mindset, you could say that I “failed” on my juice fast because I ate solid food a few times. If you have an experimenter’s mindset, you would say that my juice fast experiment led to some interesting findings. Mostly, I learned that juice fasting is fun and made me feel good, but that I couldn’t exercise without consuming solid protein and that juice fasting while traveling is a pain in the ass. Those were learnings, not failures.

That’s why I do the Monthly Experiments Project and share things transparently. It’s not because I want to be a perfect person, I just want to learn new things and share them with other curious people. Like you.

Say hi to me on Twitter and tell me something you’ll never fail at again.