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Why Experiencing Failure Is Necessary Before Becoming Successful

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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Michael Woronko

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

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Last Updated on January 6, 2021

14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

Everyone has heard the term productivity, and people talk about it in terms of how high it is and how to improve it. But fewer know how to measure productivity, or even what exactly we are talking about when using the term “productivity.”

In its simplest form, the productivity formula looks like this: Output ÷ Input = Productivity.

For example, you have two salespeople each making 10 calls to customers per week. The first one averages 2 sales per week and the second one averages 3 sales per week. By plugging in the numbers we get the following productivity levels for each sales person.

For salesperson one, the output is 2 sales and the input is 10 sales: 2 ÷ 10 = .2 or 20% productivity. For salesperson two, the output is 3 sales and the input is 10 sales: 3 ÷ 10 = .3 or 30% productivity.

Knowing how to measure and interpret productivity is an invaluable asset for any manager or business owner in today’s world. As an example, in the above scenario, salesperson #1 is clearly not doing as well as salesperson #2.

Knowing this information we can now better determine what course of action to take with salesperson #1.

Some possible outcomes might be to require more in-house training for that salesperson, or to have them accompany the more productive salesperson to learn a better technique. It might be that salesperson #1 just isn’t suited for sales and would do a better job in a different position.

How to Measure Productivity With Management Techniques

Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to fine tune your business by minimizing costs and maximizing profits:

1. Identify Long and Short-Term Goals

Having a good understanding of what you (or your company’s) goals are is key to measuring productivity.

For example, if your company’s goal is to maximize market share, you’ll want to measure your team’s productivity by their ability to acquire new customers, not necessarily on actual sales made.

2. Break Down Goals Into Smaller Weekly Objectives

Your long-term goal might be to get 1,000 new customers in a year. That’s going to be 20 new customers per week. If you have 5 people on your team, then each one needs to bring in 4 new customers per week.

Now that you’ve broken it down, you can track each person’s productivity week-by-week just by plugging in the numbers:

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Productivity = number of new customers ÷ number of sales calls made

3. Create a System

Have you ever noticed that whenever you walk into a McDonald’s, the French fry machine is always to your left? 

This is because McDonald’s created a system. They have determined that the most efficient way to set up a kitchen is to always have the French fry machine on the left when you walk in.

You can do the same thing and just adapt it to your business.

Let’s say that you know that your most productive salespeople are making the most sales between the hours of 3 and 7 pm. If the other salespeople are working from 9 am to 4 pm, you can potentially increase productivity through something as simple as adjusting the workday.

Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to set up, monitor, and fine tune systems to maximize output.

4. Evaluate, Evaluate, Evaluate!

We’ve already touched on using these productivity numbers to evaluate and monitor your employees, but don’t forget to evaluate yourself using these same measurements.

If you have set up a system to track and measure employees’ performance, but you’re still not meeting goals, it may be time to look at your management style. After all, your management is a big part of the input side of our equation.

Are you more of a carrot or a stick type of manager? Maybe you can try being more of the opposite type to see if that changes productivity. Are you managing your employees as a group? Perhaps taking a more one-on-one approach would be a better way to utilize each individual’s strengths and weaknesses.

Just remember that you and your management style contribute directly to your employees’ productivity.

5. Use a Ratings Scale

Having clear and concise objectives for individual employees is a crucial part of any attempt to increase workplace productivity. Once you have set the goals or objectives, it’s important that your employees are given regular feedback regarding their progress.

Using a ratings scale is a good way to provide a standardized visual representation of progress. Using a scale of 1-5 or 1-10 is a good way to give clear and concise feedback on an individual basis.

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It’s also a good way to track long-term progress and growth in areas that need improvement.

6. Hire “Mystery Shoppers”

This is especially helpful in retail operations where customer service is critical. A mystery shopper can give feedback based on what a typical customer is likely to experience.

You can hire your own shopper, or there are firms that will provide them for you. No matter which route you choose, it’s important that the mystery shoppers have a standardized checklist for their evaluation.

You can request evaluations for your employees friendliness, how long it took to greet the shopper, employees’ knowledge of the products or services, and just about anything else that’s important to a retail operation.

7. Offer Feedback Forms

Using a feedback form is a great way to get direct input from existing customers. There are just a couple of things to keep in mind when using feedback forms.

First, keep the form short, 2-3 questions max with a space for any additional comments. Asking people to fill out a long form with lots of questions will significantly reduce the amount of information you receive.

Secondly, be aware that customers are much more likely to submit feedback forms when they are unhappy or have a complaint than when they are satisfied.

You can offset this tendency by asking everyone to take the survey at the end of their interaction. This will increase compliance and give you a broader range of customer experiences, which will help as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

8. Track Cost Effectiveness

This is a great metric to have, especially if your employees have some discretion over their budgets. You can track how much each person spends and how they spend it against their productivity.

Again, this one is easy to plug into the equation: Productivity = amount of money brought in ÷ amount of money spent.

Having this information is very useful in forecasting expenses and estimating budgets.

9. Use Self-Evaluations

Asking your staff to do self evaluations can be a win-win for everyone. Studies have shown that when employees feel that they are involved and their input is taken seriously, morale improves. And as we all know, high employee morale translates into higher productivity.

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Using self-evaluations is also a good way to make sure that the employees and employers goals are in alignment.

10. Monitor Time Management

This is the number one killer of productivity in the workplace. Time spent browsing the internet, playing games, checking email, and making personal calls all contribute to lower productivity[1].

Time Management Tips to Improve Productivity

    The trick is to limit these activities without becoming overbearing and affecting morale. Studies have shown that most people will adhere to rules that they feel are fair and applied to everyone equally.

    While ideally, we may think that none of these activities should be done on company time, employees will almost certainly have a different opinion. From a productivity standpoint, it is best to have policies and rules that are seen as fair to both sides as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

    11. Analyze New Customer Acquisition

    We’ve all heard the phrase that “It’s more expensive to get a new customer than it is to keep an existing one.” And while that is very true, in order for your business to keep growing, you will need to continually add new customers.

    Knowing how to measure productivity via new customer acquisition will make sure that your marketing dollars are being spent in the most efficient way possible. This is another metric that’s easy to plug into the formula: Productivity = number of new customers ÷ amount of money spent to acquire those customers.

    For example, if you run any kind of advertising campaign, you can compare results and base your future spending accordingly.

    Let’s say that your total advertising budget is $3,000. You put $2,000 into television ads, $700 into radio ads, and $300 into print ads. When you track the results, you find that your television ad produced 50 new customers, your radio ad produced 15 new customers, and your print ad produced 9 new customers.

    Let’s plug those numbers into our equation. Television produced 50 new customers at a cost of $2,000 (50 ÷ 2000 = .025, or a productivity rate of 2.5%). The radio ads produced 15 new customers and cost $700 (15 ÷ 700 = .022, or a 2.2% productivity rate). Print ads brought in 9 new customers and cost $300 (9 ÷ 300 = .03, or a 3% return on productivity).

    From this analysis, it is clear that you would be getting the biggest bang for your advertising dollar using print ads.

    12. Utilize Peer Feedback

    This is especially useful when people who work in teams or groups. While self-assessments can be very useful, the average person is notoriously bad at assessing their own abilities.

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    Just ask a room full of people how many consider themselves to be an above average driver and you’ll see 70% of the hands go up[2]! Now we clearly know that in reality about 25% of drivers are below average, 25% are above average, and 50% are average.

    Are all these people lying? No, they just don’t have an accurate assessment of their own abilities.

    It’s the same in the workplace. Using peer feedback will often provide a more accurate assessment of a person’s ability than a self-assessment would.

    13. Encourage Innovation and Don’t Penalize Failure

    When it comes to productivity, encouraging employee input and adopting their ideas can be a great way to boost productivity. Just make sure that any changes you adopt translate into higher productivity.

    Let’s say that someone comes to you requesting an entertainment budget so that they can take potential customers golfing or out to dinner. By utilizing simple productivity metrics, you can easily produce a cost benefit analysis and either expand the program to the rest of the sales team, or terminate it completely.

    Either way, you have gained valuable knowledge and boosted morale by including employees in the decision-making process.

    14. Use an External Evaluator

    Using an external evaluator is the pinnacle of objective evaluations. Firms that provide professional evaluations use highly trained personnel that even specialize in specific industries.

    They will design a complete analysis of your business’ productivity level. In their final report, they will offer suggestions and recommendations on how to improve productivity.

    While the benefits of a professional evaluation are many, their costs make them prohibitive for most businesses.

    Final Thoughts

    These are just a few of the things you can do when learning how to measure productivity. Some may work for your particular situation, and some may not.

    The most important thing to remember when deciding how to track productivity is to choose a method consistent with your goals. Once you’ve decided on that, it’s just a matter of continuously monitoring your progress, making minor adjustments, and analyzing the results of those adjustments.

    The business world is changing fast, and having the right tools to track and monitor your productivity can give you the edge over your competition.

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    Featured photo credit: William Iven via unsplash.com

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