The Failure/Success Crossroads

Are you one of those people who has never failed? I hope not, because failing in my opinion is a stepping stone on the road to success.

In my world of work I am seen as a “productivity expert”. I use GTD, I try and test productivity apps and I teach people how to organize both their physical and electronic world. But I’m going to let you into a little secret:

I’m not naturally inclined that way.

Chaos

I am chaos — or maybe I’ll qualify that — I was chaos.

My life was disorder, disorganization, stress, frustration and many more negative things. When I was young my father used to offer me a shovel on my way to bed. The joke was that I would need a shovel in order to clear a path to my bed. Yes I was that bad.

Control

The fairytale goes like this; I was chaos, I found the world of productivity and now my life is order, control and success.

I don’t think so.

There have been many bumps on the road and I still battle at times to keep my physical and mental world in check. I didn’t like the rigidity of systems, the discipline of routines. It wasn’t going to work for me. I got started and I failed.

Failure

What is failure? A student once asked me:

“Is failure a necessary component in success?”

We debated the subject in class and came to the conclusion that failure doesn’t have to failure 100% of the time in order for someone to be successful but more often than not it will be a component. Especially when the success comes from hard work and personal achievement, as opposed to getting lucky or having a successful family.

Most business people fail the first time they start a business. In fact, statistics say that on average most people finally succeed at their third business.

(Corollary: Don’t panic if you are starting your first business; some of these succeed too.)

What entrepreneurs will tell you is that the important thing is to learn from failures, understand what happened, pick yourself up and start again.

So if failure is a stepping stone to success then why does this word have such a negative connotation? I think we need to change the way we think and speak about failure. The following words I heard at a weight watchers meeting and I think these words can become a philosophy for life

“You are going to fall, but that doesn’t matter, what matters is how long you stay lying down.”

So, that’s it.  We all fail. We all fall down. It’s how quickly you pick yourself and dust yourself off that is a strong determinant of success.

Failing at being productive

As I mentioned earlier, I’m not naturally an organized person (to put it mildly). I also said that I did fail, but I picked myself up, I persisted and today I can now honestly call myself organized and productive. Sure, I’m not productive 100% of the time — Twitter and Facebook have a lot to answer for — but my stats are getting better. Through persistence and determination, I’ve learned all the tricks of the trade. I’ve tweaked them and now I have a lifestyle that works for me.

I have failed many times on my journey and at times I have been demotivated and disorganized, but because I know the beauty of productivity, the benefits and the possibilities, I know it’s worth that little extra effort to stay organized.

My Top 5 Tips

If you are just thinking about becoming more productive, or if you have tried and failed, here are my top tips to help you get going — or get back on board.

  1. Have clear goals. This helps with motivation and purpose.
  2. Get a system. You need a way to organize and process your work, it also helps when you go off track by giving you a road-map to get back on track.
  3. Get up early. You can achieve so much more in the early hours when no one is awake. (This may not work for night owls. Instead, they need to get a head start on the early risers the night before.)
  4. Exercise. It reduces stress and creates energy to up your game.
  5. Meditate. This also helps with stress relief, focus and concentration.

And remember: If or when you do fail in life, it’s not an occasion to cry, it’s an opportunity to learn, grow and improve. A time get excited about the possibilities of what comes next and stand up to the challenge.

(Photo credit: Failure or Success Road Sign via Shutterstock)

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