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The Two F-Words You Should Love

The Two F-Words You Should Love
Lincoln

Make Failure and Frustration Your Friends: A History Lesson

We all experience failure and the subsequent frustration. But how you handle those tormentors makes all the difference in your final outcomes. Oftentimes the peak of frustration comes right before a major breakthrough. That’s if you don’t quit. So don’t quit! Instead use the energy behind that frustration to break through to a new level of strategy. Make failure the friend that brought you to breakthrough’s doorstep! Let frustration be the energy that propels your leap across the chasm!

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What follows are several success stories from history where failure was a frequent companion throughout these great people’s lives. Let’s all take some inspiration from their stories.


Abraham Lincoln
Failed in business in 1831. He was defeated for the legislature in 1832. He failed in business again in 1834. Hi beloved, Ann Rutledge, died in 1835. Had a nervous breakdown in ‘1836. Was defeated in election in 1838. Defeated for Congress in 1843, 1846, and for a third time in 1848. Lincoln was defeated for Senate in 1855, and defeated for Vice President in 1856. In 1858 he was defeated for Senate. And finally in 1860 he was elected President!

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Thomas Edison
Built 1800 prototypes until he created the first light bulb. He was one of America’s most prolific inventors, and he was granted 1,093 patents by the U.S. Patent office, including motion picture cameras, the phonograph, and the storage battery. But his inventions included such failures as a perpetual cigar, furniture made of cement, and a flying machine.

Alexander Graham Bell
Bell invented the telephone, and yet he found it difficult to secure a major backer. In the same year he patented the telephone, 1876, Bell tried to sell exclusive rights to the telephone to Western Union, the leading communications company at the time, for $100,000. William Orton, Western Union’s president, declined the offer, saying: “What use could this company make of an electrical toy?” The rest, as they say, is history.

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Frank Herbert
Herbert is the author of Dune, the epic science-fiction tale. The book was rejected by 13 publishers with comments like “too slow,” “confusing and irritating,” “too long,” and “issues too clear-cut and old fashioned.” But Herbert was persistent. Dune went on to win the two highest awards in the science-fiction writing and has sold over 10 million copies.

Albert Einstein
Einstein was a poor elementary school student. He failed his first college entrance exam at Zurich Polytechnic. However he went on to develop one of the greatest theories of Physics, The Theory of Relativity. He won the Nobel Prize in Physics and today his name is synonymous with the word “Genius.” He will go down in history as one of the greatest scientists in the history of the world.

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Henry Ford
Ford failed in business and went broke five times before he finally succeeded. In his first car, he forgot to put in a reverse gear. Then in 1957, he created bragged about the “car of the decade,” the Edsel. This car was infamous for its doors that wouldn’t close, a hood that wouldn’t open, paint that peeled, a horn that stuck, and a notoriety that made resale impossible. Despite this, Ford went on to much success.

Col. Harland Sanders
Yes, the Kentucky Fried Chicken Guy. Before his original recipe made it to the big time the Colonel traveled across the country trying to franchise his business. On the 1009th try he got his first sale. Today, KFC is a worldwide success story.

What’s your favorite success story that began with many failures? Where have you succeeded after many failures?

K. Stone is author of Life Learning Today, a blog about daily life improvements. A few of her most popular articles are How to Write a Book in 60 Days or Less, 5 Big Secrets “They” Don’t Want You to Know About Investing, Give Yourself a Raise Today!, and Cool GTD Applications – The Ultimate Resource List.

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K. Stone

The founder of Life Learning Today, a blog that's dedicated to life improvement tips.

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Last Updated on October 15, 2019

Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

Procrastination is very literally the opposite of productivity. To produce something is to pull it forward, while to procrastinate is to push it forward — to tomorrow, to next week, or ultimately to never.

Procrastination fills us with shame — we curse ourselves for our laziness, our inability to focus on the task at hand, our tendency to be easily led into easier and more immediate gratifications. And with good reason: for the most part, time spent procrastinating is time spent not doing things that are, in some way or other, important to us.

There is a positive side to procrastination, but it’s important not to confuse procrastination at its best with everyday garden-variety procrastination.

Sometimes — sometimes! — procrastination gives us the time we need to sort through a thorny issue or to generate ideas. In those rare instances, we should embrace procrastination — even as we push it away the rest of the time.

Why we procrastinate after all

We procrastinate for a number of reasons, some better than others. One reason we procrastinate is that, while we know what we want to do, we need time to let the ideas “ferment” before we are ready to sit down and put them into action.

Some might call this “creative faffing”; I call it, following copywriter Ray Del Savio’s lead, “concepting”.[1]

Whatever you choose to call it, it’s the time spent dreaming up what you want to say or do, weighing ideas in your mind, following false leads and tearing off on mental wild goose chases, and generally thinking things through.

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To the outside observer, concepting looks like… well, like nothing much at all. Maybe you’re leaning back in your chair, feet up, staring at the wall or ceiling, or laying in bed apparently dozing, or looking out over the skyline or feeding pigeons in the park or fiddling with the Japanese vinyl toys that stand watch over your desk.

If ideas are the lifeblood of your work, you have to make time for concepting, and you have to overcome the sensation— often overpowering in our work-obsessed culture — that faffing, however creative, is not work.

So, is procrastination bad?

Yes it is.

Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you’re “concepting” when in fact you’re just not sure what you’re supposed to be doing.

Spending an hour staring at the wall while thinking up the perfect tagline for a marketing campaign is creative faffing; staring at the wall for an hour because you don’t know how to come up with a tagline, or don’t know the product you’re marketing well enough to come up with one, is just wasting time.

Lack of definition is perhaps the biggest friend of your procrastination demons. When we’re not sure what to do — whether because we haven’t planned thoroughly enough, we haven’t specified the scope of what we hope to accomplish in the immediate present, or we lack important information, skills, or resources to get the job done.

It’s easy to get distracted or to trick ourselves into spinning our wheels doing nothing. It takes our mind off the uncomfortable sensation of failing to make progress on something important.

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The answer to this is in planning and scheduling. Rather than giving yourself an unspecified length of time to perform an unspecified task (“Let’s see, I guess I’ll work on that spreadsheet for a while”) give yourself a limited amount of time to work on a clearly defined task (“Now I’ll enter the figures from last months sales report into the spreadsheet for an hour”).

Giving yourself a deadline, even an artificial one, helps build a sense of urgency and also offers the promise of time to “screw around” later, once more important things are done.

For larger projects, planning plays a huge role in whether or not you’ll spend too much time procrastinating to reach the end reasonably quickly.

A good plan not only lists the steps you have to take to reach the end, but takes into account the resources, knowledge and inputs from other people you’re going to need to perform those steps.

Instead of futzing around doing nothing because you don’t have last month’s sales report, getting the report should be a step in the project.

Otherwise, you’ll spend time cooling your heels, justifying your lack of action as necessary: you aren’t wasting time because you want to, but because you have to.

How bad procrastination can be

Our mind can often trick us into procrastinating, often to the point that we don’t realize we’re procrastinating at all.

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After all, we have lots and lots of things to do; if we’re working on something, aren’t we being productive – even if the one big thing we need to work on doesn’t get done?

One way this plays out is that we scan our to-do list, skipping over the big challenging projects in favor of the short, easy projects. At the end of the day, we feel very productive: we’ve crossed twelve things off our list!

That big project we didn’t work on gets put onto the next day’s list, and when the same thing happens, it gets moved forward again. And again.

Big tasks often present us with the problem above – we aren’t sure what to do exactly, so we look for other ways to occupy ourselves.

In many cases too, big tasks aren’t really tasks at all; they’re aggregates of many smaller tasks. If something’s sitting on your list for a long time, each day getting skipped over in favor of more immediately doable tasks, it’s probably not very well thought out.

You’re actively resisting it because you don’t really know what it is. Try to break it down into a set of small tasks, something more like the tasks you are doing in place of the one big task you aren’t doing.

More consequences of procrastination can be found in this article:

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8 Dreadful Effects of Procrastination That Can Destroy Your Life

Procrastination, a technical failure

Procrastination is, more often than not, a sign of a technical failure, not a moral failure.

It’s not because we’re bad people that we procrastinate. Most times, procrastination serves as a symptom of something more fundamentally wrong with the tasks we’ve set ourselves.

It’s important to keep an eye on our procrastinating tendencies, to ask ourselves whenever we notice ourselves pushing things forward what it is about the task we’ve set ourselves that simply isn’t working for us.

Featured photo credit: chuttersnap via unsplash.com

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