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The Number One Trick to Succeeding When You Screw Up

The Number One Trick to Succeeding When You Screw Up

On our journey to become better human beings, we often look for ways to make ourselves more productive and successful. We seek out the latest tools to help us be more productive, we make massive to-do lists of all the things we’re going to accomplish, and we try to mold ourselves into these mistake-free machines.

Here at Lifehack I’ve read countless amazing articles that focus on boosting productivity, jump starting motivation, and life organization skills. So, instead of giving you another article that focuses on things you’ve probably already read, I want to talk about the one thing that all of us have in common, that can hinder our productivity, and one simple trick that can keep us on track to succeed.

What is this one thing we all have in common that can keep us from achieving our goals? We screw up!

That’s right. We’re human. There’s not a single person on the planet that is exempt from this law of mediocrity. From great people of history like Thomas Edison, to your local coffee shop Barista, we all make mistakes now and then.

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Successful People Screw Up Too

It’s well-known that Thomas Edison screwed up thousands of times while trying to invent the light bulb. Aside from learning what didn’t work, he didn’t focus on his failures. He kept right on focusing on his goal of producing the world’s first light bulb. He was quoted saying, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” And, as we all know, he went on to succeed and achieved his goal.

Another great example is Arlene Dickinson from CBC’s Dragon’s Den. She’s an extremely wealthy Canadian business woman who has said that her main goal in life was to have a happy family. She screwed up by having an affair, losing custody of her kids, and going through a nasty divorce. But, she didn’t let this mistake stop her.  She fought back and went on to become one of Canada’s most respected business women, got her kids back and is now happily engaged. She has been quoted saying that her rebound to success was due to, “…giving myself permission to make mistakes and learning to look for the potential in a situation rather than focusing on the problems.”

Forgive Yourself and Focus on Your Goal

How does this help us? As driven individuals, we have to understand that we’re going to make mistakes. We’re going to miss deadlines. We’re going to cheat on our diets. On our path to achieving our goals, there will be times when we fall flat on our face.

Luckily, there is one thing we can do to keep this law of humanity from holding us back, and that is to forgive ourselves.

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People who strive to be more and push themselves to their limits are almost always their own worst critic. A failure to the “perfection oriented” doesn’t need additional attention because, by our very nature, we’ll beat ourselves up ten times more than any outside source ever will. It’s this self-imposed abuse for failing that can sabotage even the most promising achievers.

When we stop and focus on our mistakes, aside from figuring out what went wrong, we’re really not doing ourselves any favors.

Let’s look at an example:

Let’s say we’ve been working on a promotion at work for 6 months. We’ve been going the extra mile, staying late, and simply doing everything we can to reach our goal of promotion. The promotion has been our sole focus for months.

Then, one day, for whatever reason, we screw up and miss a deadline on one of our projects.

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Suddenly, we feel like we’ve just completely blown our chances at promotion. We say to ourselves, “Wow, there goes that idea! I’m such a screw up!” and our focus switches from “I’m going to bust my ass to get this promotion” to “I’ve screwed up. I’ll never get this promotion.”

This change in mindset and focus to “I’ll never get this promotion” will cause that belief to become a reality. If we’re thinking, “I’ll never get this promotion.” then that’s exactly what our actions will reflect. We’ll stop staying late, we’ll stop working as hard, and we’ll probably mess up even more.

The key to handling this type of hurdle is found in self-forgiveness. Figure out why we screwed up, learn from it, then get right back to focusing on the goal.

Do not focus on the failure! Forgive yourself and focus on the goal!

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This is how the successful make things happen and overcome screw-ups.

The greatest men and woman in the history of the world have screwed up at one point or another. But, they don’t focus on the failures, they stay focused on the goals and solutions.

The ones who succeed and produce results are the ones who are able to forgive themselves, fully and truly, and get back to focusing on their goals.

So, the next time you make a mistake, just remember: We’re all human. We all make mistakes. It’s how we handle our setbacks that truly define us as achievers and determine how successful we’ll be.
(Photo credit: Young Man Facepalm via Shutterstock)

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Last Updated on December 18, 2018

Why Do I Have Bad Luck? 2 Simple Things to Change Your Destiny

Why Do I Have Bad Luck? 2 Simple Things to Change Your Destiny

Are you one of those people who are always suffering setbacks? Does little ever seem to go right for you? Do you sometimes feel that the universe is out to get you? Do you wonder:

Why do I have bad luck? Is bad luck real?

A couple of months ago, I met up with an old friend of mine who I hadn’t seen since last year. Over lunch, we talked about all kinds of things, including our careers, relationships and hobbies.

My friend told me his job had become dull and uninteresting to him, and despite applying for promotion – he’d been turned down. His personal life wasn’t great either, as he told me that he’d recently separated from his long-term girlfriend.

When I asked him why things had seemingly gone wrong at home and work, he paused for a moment, and then replied:

“I’m having a run of bad luck.”

I was surprised by his response as I’d never thought of him as someone who thought that luck controlled his life. He always appeared to be someone who knew what he wanted – and went after it with gusto.

He told me he did believe in bad luck because of everything happened to me.

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It was at this point, that I shared my opinion on luck and destiny:

While chance events certainly occur, they are purely random in nature. In other words, good luck and bad luck don’t exist in the way that people believe. And more importantly, even if random negative events do come along, our perspective and reaction can turn them into positive things.

Your luck is no worse—and no better—than anyone else’s. It just feels that way. Better still, there are two simple things you can do which will reverse your feelings of being unlucky and change your luck.

1. Stop believing that what happens in life is out of your control.

Stop believing that what happens in your life is down to the vagaries of luck, destiny, supernatural forces, malevolent other people, or anything else outside yourself.

Psychologists call this “external locus of control.” It’s a kind of fatalism, where people believe that they can do little or nothing personally to change their lives.

Because of this, they either merely hope for the best, focus on trying to change their luck by various kinds of superstition, or submit passively to whatever comes—while complaining that it doesn’t match their hopes.

Most successful people take the opposite view. They have “internal locus of control.” They believe that what happens in their life is nearly all down to them; and that even when chance events occur, what is important is not the event itself, but how you respond to it.

This makes them pro-active, engaged, ready to try new things, and keen to find the means to change whatever in their lives they don’t like.

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They aren’t fatalistic and they don’t blame bad luck for what isn’t right in their world. They look for a way to make things better.

Are they luckier than the others? Of course not.

Luck is random—that’s what chance means—so they are just as likely to suffer setbacks as anyone else.

What’s different is their response. When things go wrong, they quickly look for ways to put them right. They don’t whine, pity themselves, or complain about “bad luck.” They try to learn from what happened to avoid or correct it next time and get on with living their life as best they can. They have this Motivation Engine, which most people lack, to keep them going.

No one is habitually luckier or unluckier than anyone else. It may seem so, over the short term (Random events often come in groups, just as random numbers often lie close together for several instances—which is why gamblers tend to see patterns where none exist).

When you take a longer perspective, random chance is just . . . random. Yet those who feel that they are less lucky, typically pay far more attention to short-term instances of bad luck, convincing themselves of the correctness of their belief.

Your locus of control isn’t genetic. You learned it somehow. If it isn’t working for you, change it.

2. Remember that whatever you pay attention to grows in your mind.

If you focus on what’s going wrong in your life—especially if you see it as “bad luck” you can do nothing about—it will seem blacker and more malevolent.

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In a short time, you’ll become so convinced that everything is against you that you’ll notice more and more instances where this appears to be true. As a result, you will drown yourself in negative energy and almost certainly stop trying, convinced that nothing you can do will improve your prospects.

Not long ago, a reader (I’ll call her Kelly) has shared with me about how frustrated she felt and how unlucky she was. Kelly’s an aspiring entrepreneur. She had been trying to find investors to invest in her project. It hadn’t been going well as she was always rejected by the potential investors. And at her most stressful time, her boyfriend broke up with her. And the day after her breakup, she missed an important opportunity to meet an interested investor. She was about to give up because she felt that she’d not be lucky enough to build her business successfully.

It definitely wasn’t an easy time for her. She was stressful and tired. But it wasn’t bad luck that was playing the role.

Fatalism feeds on itself until people become passive “victims” of life’s blows. The “losers” in life are those who are convinced they will fail before they start anything; sure that their “bad luck” will ruin any prospects of success.

They rarely notice that the true reasons for their failure are ignorance, laziness, lack of skill, lack of forethought, or just plain foolishness—all of which they could do something to correct, if only they would stop blaming other people or “bad luck” for their personal deficiencies.

Your attention is under your control. Send it where you want it to go. Starve the negative thoughts until they die.

I explained to Kelly that to improve her fortune and have “good luck”, first decide that what happens is nearly always down to her; then try to focus on what works and what turns out well, not the bad stuff.

Then Kelly tried to review her current situation objectively. She realized that she only needed a short break for herself — from work and her just broken-up relationship. She really needed some time to clear up her mind before moving on with her work and life. When she got her emotions settled down from her heartbreak, she started to work on improving her business’ selling points and looked for new investors that are more suitable.

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A few months later, she told me that she finally found two investors who were really interested in her project and would like to work with her to grow the business. I was really glad that she could take back control of her destiny and achieved what she wanted.

Your “fate” really does depend on the choices that you make. When random events happen, as they always will, do you choose to try to turn them to your advantage or just complain about them?

What’s Next?

Now that you’ve learned the 2 simple things you can do to take control of your fate and create your own luck. But this isn’t it! These simple techniques you’ve learned here are just part of the essential 7 Cornerstone Skills — a skillset that will give you the power to create permanent solutions to big problems in life — any problem in any area of your life!

If you think you’re “suffering from bad luck”, you can really change things up and start life over with these 7 Cornerstone Skills. It may even be a lot easier than you thought:

How to Start Over and Reboot Your Life When It Seems Too Late

Thomas Jefferson is said to have used these words:

“I’m a great believer in luck and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.”

Your luck, in the end, is pretty much what you choose it to be.

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Featured photo credit: LoboStudio Hamburg via unsplash.com

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