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Why Experiencing Failure Is Necessary Before Becoming Successful

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Why Experiencing Failure Is Necessary Before Becoming Successful

It’s an all too common experience in life—one that has a profound influence on so many aspects in which we carry ourselves. Beyond shaping our personality, it is something that inevitably directs us through life, plots out our courses of action and contributes to everything that we are.

Failure.

It’s a word that has a negative connotation affixed to it, but the more that it’s understood, the more it can be regarded as something positive. Below are seven reasons why failure is a necessary element in our lives, how it benefits us and why it is especially necessary before achieving ultimate success.

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1. It helps to deliver some necessary perspective.

How can you enjoy the view from the top without having crawled your way up from the bottom? Perspective is everything. It allows you to connect with those who are travelling down (or up) the same path that you’ve traveled and warrants your efforts at guidance—it illustrates your wisdom. More so, perspective from both ends will help you avoid taking future success for granted. If you’ve succeeded in everything that you’ve tried on your first attempt, would you fully appreciate your achievements? They would have no meaning and no substance.

2. The struggle justifies the victory.

The feeling you get when you achieve something that you’ve worked so hard to attain—this is what builds a full appreciation for it and what makes your success feel like an actual success. If you’ve never really failed, you’ve never really tried. Making that crucial effort allows everything to feel worthwhile at the end, and it lets you know that you’ve really earned the success that you’ve worked so hard to achieve. Sometimes it may be more about the journey than the destination—the journey is what may be more influential on our lives and more memorable at the end of the day.

3. It builds a legitimate sense of entitlement—not a false one.

What do you think of people who are handed everything? Those who are born into fame, given wealth and power on a silver platter without asking for it? Do they deserve it, or have they earned it? It’s debatable, and many of these individuals do go on to prove themselves in one way or another, but it has to be acknowledged that they are given a head start. Something much more profound becomes apparent when achievement is backed by struggle, sacrifice, and success. Respect and, more crucially, genuine self-respect is attained.

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4. You learn about yourself from failure.

Life is full of failures. From hearing “incorrect” when you take a chance on a question asked by a teacher to a denial for a promotion at work, we face learning the hard way in many aspects of life. Mistakes are failures; mistakes are also one of the best ways to learn. Rejections are failures; rejections are also motivators to try harder. A major part of life is learning how to respond to failure effectively. Rather than letting a rejection trap you in a downward spiral, you let it motivate you, fuel your future efforts. In a way, it’s sort of like building a tolerance—failure makes you stronger, wiser. In nature, predators have adapted themselves generation after generation to hunt quietly, fiercely, effectively—not because they simply knew how to do it but because they know what doesn’t work based on their own experience or that of their ancestors.

5. Failure makes you want it that much more.

First off, it’ll validate your endeavors. For instance, if you want to become a doctor, fail along the way and still work towards becoming a doctor, then you know for a fact that becoming a doctor is exactly what you’re meant to do—that it is your purpose. Secondly, if you fail along the way towards getting what you want, and still want it, your desire for that ambition will grow beyond measure. Failing to do something will re-animate and possibly reinvigorate your ambitions. In other words, if it’s something you really want, your thirst for it will grow.

6. Failure can be a window of opportunity.

Failure allows you to try new things. Not only to explore different avenues but it can act as an opportunity and help you discover things that you did not initially fathom. For instance, a failed relationship can help you identify what it is that you really want in a significant other. Failure in pursuing your occupational ambitions can help you redirect your focus towards a more appropriate path. It many cases, it can also help you realize that you’re not meant to exert your efforts into something and that your time and energy are better spent elsewhere.

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7. It prompts re-evaluation.

Above all else, failing at something provokes a re-assessment of your circumstances. Big or small, this re-assessment helps to hone analytical ability and potentially identify any shortcomings in your day-to-day effectiveness. Why did my pitch at the latest business meeting fall flat? Why do I always say the wrong thing when confronted with a troublesome inquiry?

Take interviewing for instance. Only the luckiest of the bunch are able to nail an interview on their first attempt, but for the rest of us normies, we may have to trudge through dozens of interviews before we hammer down our answers and manage to effectively impress a potential employer on a whim. Next time, I have to be more prepared. Next time, I have to avoid saying so and so. Next time, I have to allude to something that is worth alluding to. If you find yourself looking forward to “next time,” then you’re doing everything right—trial and error is an inevitable basis of achieving a desired result.

How can you benefit from failure?

Ask yourself if you’ve approached everything the right way, if you had been prepared enough or if you could have done anything differently and what was outside and inside your sphere of control that may have contributed to any given failure. Most importantly, monitor your responses to things that don’t go the way that you want them to. Do you become too easily discouraged when faced with an undesired result? Or do you build from it, treat it as wisdom and use that experience as an advantage?

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There’s a clear theme that is common to each and every point mentioned above—the idea that we have to work to get what we want, that we have to earn it. Failure is as big of a part of life as anything else and the more we embrace the failure, the brighter a light we can shine on our success. Failure gives us bragging rights and allows us to subsequently savor the success that we’ve earned, providing a legitimate sense of entitlement and self-respect, shielding us from criticism and steeping us in wisdom.

Life is a story, and what kind of story doesn’t involve some measure of conflict, of struggle and the need to persist. The old peg-legged fisherman, sitting in a dimly-lit bar on the tiresome shoreline of any cliche fishing town would not have a story to tell if he hadn’t first failed to catch the prized fish a hundred times before. In the words of Charles Bukowski, “What matters most is how well we walk through the fire.”

Featured photo credit: Stokpic via stokpic.com

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More by this author

Michael Woronko

Michael shares about tips on self-development and happiness on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on October 7, 2021

Are You Addicted to Productivity?

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Are You Addicted to Productivity?

“It’s great to be productive. It really is. But sometimes, we chase productivity so much that it makes us, well, unproductive. It’s easy to read a lot about how to be more productive, but don’t forget that you have to make that time up.”

Matt Cutts wrote that back in 2013,[1]

“Today, search for ‘productivity’ and Google will come back with about 663,000,000 results. If you decide to go down this rabbit hole, you’ll be bombarded by a seemingly endless amount of content. I’m talking about books, blogs, videos, apps, podcasts, scientific studies, and subreddits all dedicated to productivity.”

Like so many other people, I’ve also fallen into this trap. For years I’ve been on the lookout for trends and hacks that will help me work faster and more efficiently — and also trends that help me help others to be faster. I’ve experimented with various strategies and tools . And, while some of these strategies and solutions have been extremely useful — without parsing out what you need quickly — it’s counterproductive.

Sometimes you end up spending more time focusing on how to be productive instead of actually being productive.

“The most productive people I know don’t read these books, they don’t watch these videos, they don’t try a new app every month,” James Bedell wrote in a Medium post.[2] “They are far too busy getting things done to read about Getting Things Done.”

This is my mantra:

I proudly say, “I am addicted to productivity — I want to be addicted to productivity — productivity is my life and my mission — and I also want to find the best way to lead others through productivity to their best selves.

But most of the time productivity means putting your head down and working until the job’s done.” –John Rampton

Addiction to Productivity is Real

Dr. Sandra Chapman, director of the University of Texas at Dallas Center for BrainHealth points out that the brain can get addicted to productivity just as it can to more common sources of addiction, such as drugs, gambling, eating, and shopping.

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“A person might crave the recognition their work gives them or the salary increases they get,” Chapman told the BBC.[3] “The problem is that just like all addictions, over time, a person needs more and more to be satisfied, and then it starts to work against you. Withdrawal symptoms include increased anxiety, depression, and fear.”

Despite the harmful consequences, addiction is considered by some experts as a brain disease that affects the brain’s reward system and ends in compulsive behavior. Regardless, society tends to reward productivity — or at least to treat it positively. As a result, this makes the problem even worse.

“It’s seen like a good thing: the more you work, the better,” adds Chapman. “Many people don’t realize the harm it causes until a divorce occurs and a family is broken apart, or the toll it takes on mental health.”

Because of the occasional negative issues with productivity, it’s no surprise that it is considered a “mixed-blessing addiction.”

“A workaholic might be earning a lot of money, just as an exercise addict is very fit,” explains Dr. Mark Griffiths, distinguished professor of behavioral addiction at Nottingham Trent University. “But the thing about any addiction is that in the long run, the detrimental effects outweigh any short-term benefits.”

“There may be an initial period where the individual who is developing a work addiction is more productive than someone who isn’t addicted to work, but it will get to a point when they are no longer productive, and their health and relationships are affected,” Griffiths writes in Psychology Today.[4] “It could be after one year or more, but if the individual doesn’t do anything about it, they could end up having serious health consequences.”

“For instance, I speculated that the consequences of work addiction may be reclassified as something else: If someone ends up dying of a work-related heart attack, it isn’t necessarily seen as having anything to do with an addiction per se – it might be attributed to something like burnout,” he adds.

There Are Three “Distinct Extreme Productivity Types

Cyril Peupion, a Sydney-based productivity expert, has observed extreme productivity among clients at both large and medium-sized companies. “Most people who come to me are high performers and very successful. But often, the word they use to describe their work style is ‘unsustainable,’ and they need help getting it back on track.”

By changing their work habits, Peupion assists teams and individuals improve their performance and ensure that their efforts are aligned with the overarching strategy of the business, rather than focusing on work as a means to an end. He has distinguished three types of extreme productivity in his classification: efficiency obsessive, selfishly productive, and quantity-obsessed.

Efficiency obsessive. “Their desks are super tidy and their pens are probably color-coded. They are the master of ‘inbox zero.’ But they have lost sight of the big picture, and don’t know the difference between efficiency and effectiveness.”

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Selfishly productive. “They are so focused on their own world that if they are asked to do something outside of it, they aren’t interested. They do have the big picture in mind, but the picture is too much about them.”

Quantity-obsessed. “They think; ‘The more emails I respond to, the more meetings I attend, the more tasks I do, the higher my performance.’ As a result, they face a real risk of burnout.”

Peupion believes that “quantity obsessed” individuals are the most common type “because there is a pervasive belief that ‘more’ means ‘better’ at work.”

The Warning Signs of Productivity Addiction

Here are a few questions you should ask yourself if you think you may be succumbing to productivity addiction. After all, most of us aren’t aware of this until it’s too late.

  • Can you tell when you’re “wasting” time? If so, have you ever felt guilty about it?
  • Does technology play a big part in optimizing your time management?
  • Do you talk about how busy you are most of the time? In your opinion, is hustling better than doing less?
  • What is your relationship with your email inbox? Are you constantly checking it or experience phantom notifications?
  • When you only check one item off your list, do you feel guilty?
  • Does stress from work interfere with your sleep?
  • Have you been putting things off, like a vacation or side project, because you’re “too swamped?

The first step toward turning around your productivity obsession is to recognize it. If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, then it’s time to make a plan to overcome your addiction to productivity.

Overcoming Your Productivity Addiction

Thankfully, there are ways to curb your productivity addiction. And, here are 9 such ways to achieve that goal.

1. Set Limits

Just because you’re hooked on productivity doesn’t mean you have to completely abstain from it. Instead, you need to establish boundaries.

For example, there are a lot of amazing productivity podcasts out there. But, that doesn’t mean you have to listen to them all in the course of a day. Instead, you could listen to one or two podcasts, like The Productivity Podcast or Before Breakfast, during your commute. And, that would be your only time of the day to get your productivity fix.

2. Create a Not-to-Do List

Essentially, the idea of a not-to-do list is to eliminate the need to practice self-discipline. Getting rid of low-value tasks and bad habits will allow you to focus on what you really want to do as opposed to weighing the pros and cons or declining time requests. More importantly, this prevents you from feeling guilty about not crossing everything off an unrealistic to-do list.

3. Be Vulnerable

By this, I mean admitting where you could improve. For example, if you’re new to remote work and are struggling with thi s, you would only focus on topics in this area. Suggestions would be how to create a workspace at home, not getting distracted when the kids aren’t in school, or improving remote communication and collaboration with others.

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4. Understand Why You Procrastinate

Often, we procrastinate to minimize negative emotions like boredom or stress. Other times it could be because it’s a learned trait, underestimating how long it takes you to complete something or having a bias towards a task.

Regardless of the exact reason, we end up doing busy work, scrolling social media, or just watching one more episode of our favorite TV series. And, even though we know that it’s not for the best, we do things that make us feel better than the work we should do to restore our mood.[5]

There are a lot of ways to overcome procrastination. But, the first step is to be aware of it so that you can take action. For example, if you’re dreading a difficult task, don’t just watch Netflix. Instead, procrastinate more efficiently,y like returning a phone call or working on a client pitch.

5. Don’t Be a Copycat

Let’s keep this short and sweet. When you find a productivity app or technique that works for you, stick with it.

That’s not to say that you can’t make adjustments along the way or try new tools or hacks. However, the main takeaway should be that just because someone swears by the Pomodoro Technique doesn’t mean it’s a good fit for you.

6. Say Yes to Less

Across the board, your philosophy should be less is more.

That means only download the apps you actually use and want to keep (after you try them out) and uninstall the ones you don’t use. For example, are you currently reading a book on productivity? Don’t buy your next book until you’ve finished the one you’re currently reading (or permit yourself to toss a book that isn’t doing you any good). — and if you really want to finish a book more quickly, listen to the book on your way to work and back.

Already have plans this weekend? Don’t commit to a birthday party. And, if you’re day is booked, decline that last-minute meeting request.

7. Stop Focusing on What’s Next

“In the age when purchasing a thing from overseas is just one click and talking to another person is one swipe right, acquiring new objects or experiences can be addictive like anything else,” writes Patrick Banks for Lifehack .

“That doesn’t need to be you,” he adds. “You can stop your addition to ‘the next thing’ starting today.” After all, “there will always be this next thing if you don’t make a conscious decision to get your life back together and be the one in charge.”

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  • Think about your current lifestyle and the person you’re at this stage to help you identify what you aren’t satisfied with.
  • By setting clear goals for yourself in the future, you will be able to overcome your addiction.
  • Establish realistic goals.
  • To combat addiction, you must be aware of what is going on around you, as well as inside your head, at any given time.
  • Don’t spend time with people who have unhealthy behaviors.
  • Hold yourself accountable.
  • Keep a journal and write out what you want to overcome.
  • Appreciate no longer being addicted to what’s next.

8. Simplify

Each day, pick one priority task. That’s it. As long as you concentrate on one task at a time, you will be less likely to get distracted or overwhelmed by an endless list of tasks. A simple mantra to live by is: work smarter, not harder.

The same is also accurate with productivity hacks and tools. Bullet journaling is a great example. Unfortunately, for many, a bullet journal is way more time-consuming and overwhelming than a traditional planner.

9. Learn How to Relax

“Sure, we need to produce sometimes, especially if we have to pay the bills, but, banning obsession with productivity is unhealthy,” writes Leo Babauta. “When you can’t get yourself to be productive, relax.” Don’t worry about being hyper-efficient. And, don’t beat yourself up about having fun.

“But what if you can’t motivate yourself … ever?” he asks. “Sure, that can be a problem. But if you relax and enjoy yourself, you’ll be happier.”

“And if you work when you get excited, on things you’re excited about, and create amazing things, that’s motivation,” Leo states. “Not forcing yourself to work when you don’t want to, on things you don’t want to work on — motivation is doing things you love when you get excited.”

But, how exactly can you relax? Here are some tips from Leo;

  • Spend 5 minutes walking outside and breathe in the fresh air.
  • Give yourself more time to accomplish things. Less rushing means less stress.
  • If you can, get outside after work to enjoy nature.
  • Play like a child. Even better? Play with your kids. And, have fun at work — maybe give gamification a try .
  • Take the day off, rest, and do something non-work-related.
  • Allow yourself an hour of time off. Try not to be productive during that time. Just relax.
  • You should work with someone who is exciting. Make your project exciting.
  • Don’t work in the evenings. Seriously.
  • Visit a massage therapist.
  • Just breathe.

“Step by step, learn to relax,” he suggests. “Learn that productivity isn’t everything.” For that statement, sorry Leo, I say productivity isn’t everything — it’s the only thing.” However, if you can’t cut loose, relax, do fun things, and do the living part of your life — you’ll crack in a big way — you really will.

It’s great to create and push forward — just remember it doesn’t mean that every minute must be spent working or obsessing over productivity issues. Instead, invest your time in meaningful, high-impact work, get into it, focus, put in big time and then relax.

Are You Addicted to Productivity? was originally published on Calendar by John Rampton.

Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

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