Are You A Failure? How to Use Failure As Fuel with Sal Cincotta
We all fail. That’s life. Deal with it. Going through life chasing perfection, while noble, is exhausting. I work my ass off every day trying to be better than the day before, but no matter how hard I try, I still make mistakes. I still fail.
That dreaded word, fail. People just can’t accept it. At Cincotta & Co., I tend to be rather blunt when I talk to employees. Some have been known to crumble under the weight of my blunt approach.
I’ll cut right to the chase and state quite clearly: “On this task, you are failing.” You would think I called them a four-letter word and condemned their family to life in prison. Get over it! You set a goal, a target, and you missed it. You failed. I am not going to sugarcoat it and call it something it’s not. You didn’t almost make it. Close doesn’t count. You don’t almost win the Super Bowl. You win it or you lose it.
This month I’m going to be ambitious and help you figure out how to make the most of your journey through life and business. What I’m not going to do is tell you to embrace failure. Screw that. Failure sucks, but denying failure is a recipe for disaster. Failure is how we learn. Every failure brings us a step closer to success.
What does it mean to fail?
Failure to me means that you missed a goal. Let’s not overcomplicate it.
You will fail at large goals and small ones. You didn’t get through all the emails you planned to? Fail. Forgot to do social media this week? Fail. Supposed to edit your client images in less than two weeks and missed it? Fail. Business or personal, a fail is a fail is a fail.
Fail. I hate hearing that word because I hate when I do it.
We all fail. It’s not the end of the world.
But no matter how bad a failure, tomorrow will still come. Life’s not like an episode of Lost where if you don’t press the button everyone dies. But it sure might seem that way when you’re in the middle of a bout with failure.
So we know it’s not the end of the world. Wrap your head around that. Drop the horrible habit of making excuses. Do, however, examine what led up to the failure. There are always reasons. Why didn’t you edit your client images in less than two weeks? Life got in the way, right? Life tends to do that. Accept it but don’t use it as an excuse for anything other than learning how not to make the same mistake again.
Failure is integral to growth. Once you accept this simple truth that many of us will never learn to accept, you are well on your way to improving yourself, your business, your relationships—and even the world around you.
Embrace it. Accept it. You don’t have to like it.
Now that you have embraced the simple fact that you have failed, how do you transform that failure into a learning tool? First, never accept failure as a final doom. Accept it like you accept paying taxes. It’s a shitty but inescapable part of life.
This is where I see a lot of people get complacent. They start to accept it to a point where they are content with it. “Oh well, so I failed, what are you going to do?” No! Screw that. “I failed and I am pissed about it! I don’t like this feeling—in fact, I hate this feeling!” That’s more like it. Now what?
Use your failure as a catapult. Storm those castles one failure at a time.
If you made it to this point, you are well ahead of many of your peers. The world has become hyper-padded. We are so sensitive, so politically correct, so feelings-first, that we never want anyone to feel failure or get an ouchy.
“You almost made it, little Johnny!”
Sorry, little Johnny—you failed! We are raising a generation of humans who can’t solve simple life challenges because their entire lives have been padded, all dangers removed.
In the business world, there are winners and losers. You don’t almost win a wedding contract. You don’t get a second-place trophy. You either get the contract and get paid or your ass is looking for more work. You don’t almost get a work promotion. You either get it or you don’t. It’s pretty black and white, y’all.
Once you understand this, you will realize that every failure is an opportunity to improve, but you can’t improve if you don’t accept that you and you alone failed and are responsible for your destiny. Businesspeople who tackle failure correctly take failure to heart. They look at it objectively and ask themselves a few questions.
Why did I fail? How can I get better? What can I change? What things were in my control? What are the next steps to ensure this doesn’t happen again?
If you’ve made it this far, you are ready to go out there armed with the knowledge and the bruises to try again. You may very well fail again, but that’s okay. You will once again figure out where you went wrong, adjust and try again. I always tell my team that mistakes are okay if we learn from them.
I also remind my team of the definition of insanity: Running into the same walls every time while expecting different results. Sometimes you have to knock down a section of wall or go around it. Either way, the key to success is not to merrily embrace failure but to make it your own and use it to fine-tune yourself and your business.