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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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Last Updated on August 16, 2018

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system”.

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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The power of habit

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being six hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The wonderful thing about triggers (reminders)

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to make a reminder works for you

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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