Wednesday, 21 October 2015

First Step to Learning from YOUR Failings

The first step towards learning from a failing is to acknowledge it and take responsibility for it. This sounds like the most logical thing to do when you have failed, simply acknowledge and take responsibility, but the reverse in the case in society. Have you met a student who passed an examination with flying colours? He typically will say of his result when he is asked that, “I scored 5 As and 3 Bs!” more often than not he will speak with a zest that tells you he is proud of his accomplishment. In the same vein ask a student who performed woefully in the same examination and you will hear something like, “They gave me 3 Ds and 4 Fs.” I want you to note the choice and usage of words here. The student who did well takes responsibility for his performance but the other who failed deflects responsibility and attaches it to the examination body. They failed him! This is a simplistic example but goes to buttress the point.

What is your attitude towards your failings? Do you quickly acknowledge that you have failed and take responsibility for it or do you deflect it to just about anybody who you can deflect it to? If you search for such escape routes you will find many – your spouse, children, religion, school, economy, environment, the weather, or even God. The problem with taking these escape routes is that they ensure you do not leave your condition. You will continue to remain in the rot because if it isn’t your fault that you failed then you will wait for the person or circumstance whose fault it is to correct itself or the condition for you.

If on the other hand you are set on a progressive course in life, you will acknowledge that YOU failed and take full responsibility for YOUR failing. Do not underestimate the importance of taking responsibility when it comes to your failings. As in all cases of taking responsibility, you suddenly feel empowered to succeed when next you do the same venture. Taking responsibility gives you the following advantages:

·        Shows you and people around you that you and you alone is in control of your life.
·        Impresses upon people that you are a responsible person.
·        Increases public opinion of you.
·        Enhances your personal sense of self worth.
·        Reduces fear of failing in the same and other ventures.
·        Makes you confident of the fact that you aren’t a passive failure
·        Increases your confidence of trying the same thing again and even trying other things.
·        Increases your chances of success in life.

Never be afraid of taking responsibility for your failings. Imagine losing these benefits simply because you aren’t able to acknowledge a failing and accept responsibility for it. 

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Second Step to Learning from Your Failings

The second and final step towards learning from your failings is the art of scrutinizing the reasons for failing deeply. I call it an art because I really consider it to be such. To explain my statement I’ll like to teach you about a method of questioning invented by the Japanese. It is called the “Five Whys Method.” It is a question-asking technique used to explore the cause and effect relationships underlying a particular problem. The primary goal of the technique is to determine the root cause of a defect or problem. It is important to remember that the answer to each question then forms the basis of the next question. Let me give you an example.

Assuming you have identified a nagging problem that although you perform satisfactorily in your examinations, you don't score higher than a C. 

You then ask yourself:
Why don't score better grades than Cs?” This is the first why. It may have an answer that goes thus: Because my tests and assignment scores are always low.

Then you proceed to the second why:
Why are my test and assignment scores always low?”
To this question your answer may be:
Because I don't take my academics seriously until a few weeks to the examinations.

And then the third why:
Why don't I take my academics seriously until a few weeks to the examinations?”
Because I perpetually resume late to school.

Fourth why:
Why do I perpetually resume late?
Because I depend on my poor mother for pocket money.

Why do I depend on my mother for pocket money?
Because, unlike other folks my age, I don't work during the holidays.

Now, note that the Fifth why is the root cause. At this point you stop and earmark a counter-measure. A counter-measure for this example may be: “I need to ensure that I take up a part-time job during the next holiday so I can earn and save some pocket money for school.

If you follow this simple technique it will most certainly help you probe your way to the root cause of any problem.

I hope I succeeded in showing you ways to learn from every failing. Remember, failing is a natural happening in the path of success. A failure is a person who sits back and accepts a failing as his final destination!

Fear of Failing

Many of us are afraid of failing, at least some of the time. But atychiphobia, which is fear of failure, is when we allow that fear to stop us doing the things that can move us forward to achieve our goals.
Fear of failure can be linked to many causes. For instance, I remember running away from a debate competition which I was one of the favorites to clinch in primary school because my father was not supportive of the idea. At that time – for some reason I couldn’t explain – he felt I didn’t have what it takes to deliver in a competitive debate. Because of his reaction, I developed a grave fear of failure attached to any opportunity to speak in front of a crowd. I carried those negative feelings into adulthood but was lucky enough to overcome them.
Experiencing a traumatic event at some point in your life can also be a cause. For example, say that several years ago you gave an important presentation in front of a large group, and you did very poorly. The experience might have been so terrible that you became afraid of failing in other things. And you carry that fear even now, years later.
Some signs that you are afraid to fail in your endeavors and in life include:
·        A reluctance to leave your comfort zone and try new things. (explain briefly)
·     Self-sabotage – for example, procrastination, excessive anxiety, or a failure to follow through with goals.
·    Low self-esteem – commonly using negative statements such as "I'll never be good enough to make the examination," or "I'm not smart enough to get on that team," are proves that you have low self esteem.
·    Perfectionism – A willingness to try only those things that you know you'll finish perfectly and successfully. Also it shows in an attitude that isn’t willing to accept any error or imperfection in your activities.

It's almost impossible to go through life without experiencing some kind of failure. People who dare to live failure-free lives live so cautiously that they amount to nothing. In effect, they're not really living at all.
The wonderful thing about failure is that it's entirely up to us to decide how to look at it.

We can choose to see failure as "the end of the world," or as proof of just how inadequate we are. Or, we can look at failure as the incredible learning experience that it often is. Every time we fail at something, we can choose to look for the lesson we're meant to learn. These lessons are very important; they're how we grow, and how we keep from making that same mistake again. Failures stop us only if we let them.

Learning from Failings

There are different angles we can look at failings from. We can consider them to be fatal blows to our progress and give up or we can look at them as opportunities to learn something new. These are differing perspectives and they have differing consequences. It is of this I will like to speak to you about today – how to learn from failings.

Note that the constant in the equation of success is failing. To fear failings therefore does not help overcome it. The person who has truly overcome failings is the person who learns from every opportunity he or she has to fail. This means what should have had the potential of discouraging and in fact destroying future possibilities turns out to be the teacher. When Thomas Edison tried several times to make the electric bulb and didn’t succeed he reportedly said, “I didn’t fail. I learnt 10000 different ways the electric bulb cannot be created.” That’s the paradigm of a person who understands that failings are effective teachers.

The flip side of this is that people find it difficult to perceive how failings can be our teachers. I mean, how can something I detest be what will teach me how to do the thing I want to do effectively? It is always important to keep in mind the fact that failings are inevitable. Show me a person who never fails and I will show you a person who never tries to achieve anything. In fact, this same person will not amount to anything worthwhile. To establish this point I often ask folks how they learned to ride bicycles. Without an exception they all state that they fell several times in the process of learning. In fact some say that they didn’t know exactly when they perfected the skill of riding a bicycle. This is so because the transition between imperfection and perfection, between failings and mastering, is seamless. You move from one world to the other without knowing when you cross the border.

Overcoming the Fear of Failing

It's easy to find successful people who have experienced failure. For example:
·      Michael Jordan is widely considered to be one of the greatest basketball players of all time. And yet, he was cut from his high school basketball team because his coach didn't think he had enough skill.

·     Warren Buffet, one of the world's richest and most successful businessmen, was rejected by Harvard University.

·             Richard Branson, owner of the Virgin empire, is a high school dropout.

Most of us will stumble and fall in life. Doors will get slammed in our faces, and we might make some bad decisions. But imagine if Michael Jordan had given up on his dream to play basketball when he was cut from that team. Imagine if Richard Branson had listened to the people who told him he'd never do anything worthwhile without a high school diploma.
Think of the opportunities you'll miss if you let your failures stop you.
Failure can also teach us things about ourselves that we would never have learned otherwise. For instance, failure can help you discover how strong a person you are. Failing at something can help you discover your truest friends, or help you find unexpected motivation to succeed.
Often, valuable insights come only after a failure. Accepting and learning from those insights is key to succeeding in life.
Although there is always a chance that we will fail in some life ventures, there are a few ways to reduce the fear of failing:
·      Analyze all potential outcomes – Many people experience fear of failure because they fear the unknown. Remove that fear by considering all of the potential outcomes of your decision.

·     Learn to think more positively – Positive thinking is an incredibly powerful way to build self-confidence and neutralize self-sabotage.

·    Look at the worse-case scenario – In some cases, the worst case scenario may be genuinely disastrous, and it may be perfectly rational to fear failure. In other cases, however, this worst case may actually not be that bad, and recognizing this can help face the fear.

·      Have a contingency plan  – If you're afraid of failing at something, having a "Plan B" in place can help you feel more confident about moving forward.

If you are afraid of failure, you might be uncomfortable setting goals. But goals help us define where we want to go in life. Without goals, we have no sure destination.

Start by setting a few small goals. These should be goals that are slightly, but not overwhelmingly, challenging. Think of these goals as "early wins" that are designed to help boost your confidence.

For example, if you've been too afraid to talk to the new department head (who has the power to give you the promotion you want), then make that your first goal. Plan to stop by her office during the next week to introduce yourself.
Or, imagine that you've dreamed of returning to school to get your MBA, but you're convinced that you're not smart enough to be accepted into business school. Set a goal to buy a form fill and submit.
Try to make your goals tiny steps on the route to much bigger goals. Don't focus on the end picture: getting the promotion, or graduating with an MBA. Just focus on the next step: introducing yourself to the department head, and purchasing the form. That's it.

Taking one small step at a time will help build your confidence, keep you moving forward, and prevent you from getting overwhelmed with visions of your final goal.