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How Failures Can Teach You Valuable Lessons

How Failures Can Teach You Valuable Lessons

ski skiing failure success lessons

    Some of the toughest lessons that we face are from our failures. But it’s also these same failures that can provide the most useful lessons if we only allow them to be. I’m going to be brave to share with you one of the biggest failures and resulting lessons from my own life.

    In 1990, I became certified as a Level 1 ski instructor by the Canadian Ski Instructors Alliance, which is the governing body for professional ski instructors here in Canada. I always wanted to become a Level 2 instructor. The abilities of a Level 2 ski instructor is considered to be a very respectable skiing level. So after a few years as a Level 1, I decided to take the Level 2 certification course.

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    The Level 2 ski instructor course turned out to be the most grueling course I have ever taken, as it was an intensive five-day program with both on snow and indoor sessions. The course conductors who were Level 4 instructors, were constantly evaluating us. Level 4s are considered ski gods here in Canada.

    Once the course started, I quickly found that my ski technique on the ‘black diamond’ slopes, which are the steep ones, was not quite up to Level 2 standards. Also, my short radius turns were not considered strong enough. So as a result of these two weaknesses, I ended up failing the course.

    Using Failure As A Good Teacher

    Needless to say, I was quite disappointed for failing but the experience also taught me what I needed to work on. It clearly told me that if I ever wanted to become a Level 2 ski instructor, I would have to really work on my weaknesses.

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    For the next entire ski season, I made it my main objective to specifically train intensively on my weaknesses, which were skiing on the steep black diamond slopes and doing short radius turns. I forced myself to work on just these two techniques during my 3 to 4 ski days each week all winter long. By the following season, I was ready to retake the Level 2 course.

    The retest was at a bigger ski resort compared to where I took the course during my first time around and this resulted in further unexpected challenges. This bigger resort not only has black diamond slopes but also has ‘double black diamonds’. These particular slopes are even steeper than the single black diamonds.

    There was this double black diamond slope called ‘Elevator Shaft’, the steepest at the resort. You can just imagine how steep it is just from its name. None of the Level 2 candidates taking the course thought that we would actually have to ski down ‘Elevator Shaft’ in front of the course conductors. Guess what happened?

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    Sure enough, they made us ski down ‘Elevator Shaft’ as part of our test not just once, but three times in a row! This was probably one of the most nerve-racking experiences I have ever gone through. It’s one thing to ski down the steepest double black diamond there, but to do it in front of the course conductors – well, you can imagine the intense anxiety we all felt.

    Success Finally Comes After Failure

    At the end of my retest, I was told that I actually skied well enough to finally pass the Level 2 program. The intensive training that I put into from the entire last season paid off and I wouldn’t have gone through that specific training if I hadn’t failed the Level 2 course the first time around.

    My initial failure taught me where my weaknesses were as well as how to train to overcome them. This same process of using failure to be an effective teaching tool can be applied to almost any area in life. If you want to achieve a higher level in pretty well any specific area or skill, be prepared to accept failures.

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    As disappointing as they may be, have the bravery to learn from these failures and actively apply the valuable lessons from them. By doing this, success will eventually come.

    If you have experienced failure before becoming successful in something, please feel free to share below in the comments section.

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    Last Updated on December 2, 2018

    How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

    How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

    Ebb and flow. Contraction and expansion. Highs and lows. It’s all about the cycles of life.

    The entire course of our life follows this up and down pattern of more and then less. Our days flow this way, each following a pattern of more energy, then less energy, more creativity and periods of greater focus bookended by moments of low energy when we cringe at the thought of one more meeting, one more call, one more sentence.

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    The key is in understanding how to use the cycles of ebb and flow to our advantage. The ability to harness these fluctuations, understand how they affect our productivity and mood and then apply that knowledge as a tool to improve our lives is a valuable strategy that few individuals or corporations have mastered.

    Here are a few simple steps to start using this strategy today:

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    Review Your Past Flow

    Take just a few minutes to look back at how your days and weeks have been unfolding. What time of the day are you the most focused? Do you prefer to be more social at certain times of the day? Do you have difficulty concentrating after lunch or are you energized? Are there days when you can’t seem to sit still at your desk and others when you could work on the same project for hours?

    Do you see a pattern starting to emerge? Eventually you will discover a sort of map or schedule that charts your individual productivity levels during a given day or week.  That’s the first step. You’ll use this information to plan your days going forward.

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    Schedule According to Your Flow Pattern

    Look at the types of things you do each day…each week. What can you move around so that it’s a better fit for you? Can you suggest to your team that you schedule meetings for late morning if you can’t stand to be social first thing? Can you schedule detailed project work or highly creative tasks, like writing or designing when you are best able to focus? How about making sales calls or client meetings on days when you are the most social and leaving billing or reports until another time when you are able to close your door and do repetitive tasks.

    Keep in mind that everyone is different and some things are out of our control. Do what you can. You might be surprised at just how flexible clients and managers can be when they understand that improving your productivity will result in better outcomes for them.

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    Account for Big Picture Fluctuations

    Look at the bigger picture. Consider what happens during different months or times during the year. Think about what is going on in the other parts of your life. When is the best time for you to take on a new project, role or responsibility? Take into account other commitments that zap your energy. Do you have a sick parent, a spouse who travels all the time or young children who demand all of your available time and energy?

    We all know people who ignore all of this advice and yet seem to prosper and achieve wonderful success anyway, but they are usually the exception, not the rule. For most of us, this habitual tendency to force our bodies and our brains into patterns of working that undermine our productivity result in achieving less than desired results and adding more stress to our already overburdened lives.

    Why not follow the ebb and flow of your life instead of fighting against it?

      Featured photo credit: Nathan Dumlao via unsplash.com

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