The only people who don’t fail are people who don’t try anything outside of their comfort zones, which is no way to grow. So a certain amount of failure is not only okay, it’s desirable. But have we reached a point where we are now over-glorifying failure? Jerod and Demian dive deep and discuss.
And in case you’re wondering where the idea for this episode came from … just look back one week in the archive.
In our last episode, James Altucher used a term that made both Demian and Jerod do a double take: “failure porn.” They couldn’t stop talking about it after the interview with James ended, so they hit Record and turned the discussion into an episode.
In this episode, Jerod and Demian discuss:
- Remembering a classic Michael Jordan commercial about failure
- Why James Altucher’s phrase “failure porn” gave Demian an epiphany
- Do we use the word “failure” to say something we don’t really mean?
- The difference between celebrating failure and learning from it
- When we should consider failure to not be an option
- Why Jerod views a Copyblogger post series and even his most successful personal blog project as a failure in hindsight
- How being too accepting of failure can actually be disempowering
- Does the fear of failure numb creativity?
- Should we fear failure? Should it leave a scar?
- Why do silver medalists so often come back and win Olympic gold?
- The importance of defining what, specifically, constitutes, failure and success in any given activity
- How failure relates to mastery
- How to apply the “24-hour rule” to success and failure
Listen to Copyblogger FM below ...
The Show Notes
- Failure is not a good thing. Stop saying it is. — by Paul Smith
- Choose Yourself Part 2: James Altucher Fights Back — Last week’s episode of The Lede
- @DemianFarnworth | @JerodMorris
Do We Celebrate Failure Too Much?
Voiceover: This is Rainmaker.FM, the digital marketing podcast network. It’s built on the Rainmaker Platform, which empowers you to build your own digital marketing and sales platform. Start your free 14-day trial at Rainmaker.FM/Platform.
Demian Farnworth: I’m glad we didn’t purposely try to fail just so we could say, “Hey, lookay, there’s an episode that failed.”
Jerod Morris: Right, exactly. That would not be good.
Welcome back, everybody, to The Lede, a podcast about content marketing by Copyblogger Media. The Lede, as always, is hosted by me, Jerod Morris, VP of Rainmaker.FM for Copyblogger Media and my co-host, Demian Farnworth, Chief Content Creator for Copyblogger Media. Of course, both Demian and I also host other shows at Rainmaker.FM. I host The Showrunner which you can listen to at Showrunner.FM, a podcast about podcasting, and Demian hosts Rough Draft, which you can get to at Roughdraft.RM, a podcast all about writing.
Well, in this episode of The Lede, we are going to do a call back to our last episode. If you listened to the last episode, it was a conversation with James Altucher. He wanted to come on and clarify a few things about the concept of ‘choose yourself,’ which we were more than happy to let him do and really enjoyed that conversation, so make sure you give that a listen if you missed it. In that episode, he used this phrase ‘failure porn’ that both Demian and I really liked. It was basically James saying that we kind of over glorify failure. You know this idea of failing forward and all that, but are we overdoing it a little bit?
When Demian and I got off the phone with James, we kept talking about this idea of ‘failure porn’ and ‘failing forward’ and all of that. So we just decided to fire up the recorders, and we talked about it. So this episode is that discussion about failing forward, and about failure, and do we glorify failure too much? So Demian and I talk about that, share our ideas, share some stories from our own personal experience. We’d love to hear from you as well, so after you listen to this episode comment. Send us tweets. Let us know what you think. Here is my conversation with Demian about failure.
Remembering a Classic Michael Jordan Commercial about Failure
Jerod Morris: By almost any measure, Michael Jordan is known as the greatest basketball player of all times, certainly one of them. Some people think he’s the greatest athlete of all time. Back during this playing career, there was a commercial that came out. Obviously, Michael Jordan, he won six championships. He won many MVP awards, scoring titles. He accomplished so much, and the commercial flipped all that around.
It focused on game winning shots that he missed and not making the varsity the team as a junior in high school or sophomore, whatever year it was. Basically all of the mistakes, and the idea of the commercial was basically, “I’ve succeeded because I’ve failed.” It highlighted these failures of Michael Jordan, and again, it made an impact, because when you think of Michael Jordan, you think of all of these successes. This idea of failing forward and of failure leading to success is one that seems to — it’s always been around — but it’s one that seems to now be even more out there.
You know in our last episode, we talked a little bit about it with James Altucher, and he talked about ‘failure porn.’ We talked about these failures really leading them forward. So, Demian, we wanted to break down this issue today and talk about it. Because certainly we all understand that, on some level, you have to make mistakes to move forward. You’re never going to learn if you’re not making mistakes, but I think I wonder, we wonder, if maybe this idea of failing forward is almost being taken a little bit too far. What do you think?
Why James Altucher’s Phrase ‘Failure Porn’ Gave Demian an Epiphany
Demian Farnworth: So his comment about failure porn I think was dead on. It was one of those epiphanies like I wish I had thought of that because you lookay at Inc, the Inc magazine online, you lookay at Entrepreneur, and probably every fourth article is something on failing, something fail forward, fail faster, fail harder, that sort of thing, which in a sense was celebrating failure. I’m thinking like, “This is just you know,” in the back of my mind, I don’t think ever quite registered, like it wasn’t one of those conscious sort of things, but something just bugged me about it.
Then I came across this article by Paul Smith on Medium, which he said, basically, was we need to stop celebrating failure. He was talking particularly in the startup culture, and he wrote in that article, he said, “Every business has different objectives and goals, but whether the founder’s dream of a billion dollar exit or simply wish to scratch a creative itch, if it’s commercial entity, then there needs to be success of some sort.”
What he was after was this idea of these founders who fail and then wear that as sort of a badge or kind of a wound that they’re proud of. That they show like, “Yeah, I’ve got three failed startups behind me.” Paul Smith was outraged by that, and the funny thing was he mentioned this article that he wrote was a follow-up to something he mentioned to a live audience. He said the reaction that he got from people was not what he expected at all. People were sort of upset with him and didn’t agree with him and were against him. So for that one, it sort of crystallized what I felt was wrong, was that there needs to be clarification about this topic of failure.
Do We Use the Word ‘Failure’ to Say Something We Don’t Really Mean?
Jerod Morris: Yeah. Obviously, this comes on the heels of our hero versus villain series where we were taking opposite sides. I think you and I really feel similarly on this one. Because here’s what I think the issue is here, as is the issue with a lot of these, it’s a word issue. People are using the word ‘failure’ because it’s the strong word. It’s an emotional word. It grabs people, but I think they’re using it to say something they don’t really mean, because like in that Michael Jordan commercial, there’s no celebrating missing a game winning shot. What you’re celebrating is the willingness to take it.
I use to have a little paper weight that sat on my desk, and it said, “You always miss 100% of the shots that you don’t take.” The idea is not that you want to fail. The idea is that you want to experiment, and you understand that some experiments aren’t going to work. You’re going to make mistakes along the way, but the idea is still to go into it with it being a success.
I get that if you’ve already failed, then sometimes in hindsight you want to lookay back and extract some kind of positive from it. It still doesn’t mean that the failure itself was good. But if people take it too literally then they can approach things with the wrong mindset of, “Oh, it’s OKAY to fail.” Well, no, really it’s not. What you need to do is experiment with the idea of success, but just don’t let a fear of failure stop you from experimenting.
Demian Farnworth: Right, because imagine that you play for the Seattle Seahawks.
Jerod Morris: I don’t want to imagine that.
The Difference between Celebrating Failure and Learning from It
Demian Farnworth: Well, just for a moment, put yourself in their shoes, and think that they lost the Super Bowl on a very controversial call. None of those guys, guarantee, are wearing that failure as a badge. They’re smarting from it. It hurts, yet they are using it. They’re licking their wounds, yet they are using it, guaranteed, to come back around as motivation and energy to do and strive to win next year.
Paul Smith in his article, he says, “If we don’t build upon the knowledge of why we failed, then all the effort it tookay to fail is squandered. If we don’t step up to take another shot, then we waste the beating we tookay. We waste the potential our failure presents.” He’s saying, “We don’t celebrate it, yet you have to grow from it. It is valuable in the sense that we do learn from it.” It’s a crucible, right? It’s a crucible that we go through. Then through that fire and that trial, we come out hopefully better people, but only then, like James spokaye about it, if we take responsibility.
Jerod Morris: Yeah. I mean failure is a likely outcome of stepping outside of our comfort zones, of trying something that we don’t necessarily know. There’s going to be failure there. I think what you and I are talking about is instead of celebrating the failure, celebrate what really should be celebrated, which is trying something new. Stepping outside of your comfort zone. Doing something that makes you a little bit uncomfortable. Yet we keep celebrating the failure to the point where, again, I think people can get this idea like, “Oh, it’s OKAY to fail.” — and I know you have a couple examples you want to share — it’s really not.
I mean if you have a company, and it fails, I know in hindsight you can lookay back on it and learn all these lessons from it. But if there were 20 people working for that company and it negatively impacted their lives and all of this, then the failure wasn’t good.
When We Should Consider Failure to Not Be an Option
Demian Farnworth: There’s too much at stake in that situation. A lot of times you hear that word like, ‘failure is not an option,’ which it needs to be. I mean when I went to work for myself and I was going from a corporate job with an office, with benefits, with a salary, I knew where everything was. I went to work for myself where I had no safety net. I knew that like, ‘Failure is not an option. I have too much at stake. I’ve got a mortgage. I’ve got a family to feed. I’ve got all these financial things.”
At the same time, a sort of emotional and mental things at stake too that I wanted to succeed and wanted to demonstrate and prove to myself that I could do this. If I felt like I had this safety net behind me. I like this metaphor talking about burning the bridge because it positions you in a situation where it says like, “It’s do or die.” In that sense, when we think about where we have a lot at stake, we need to say, “Failure is not an option.”
Our company, for example, we do things. We’ve failed at things, but we’ve minimized the risk. We don’t prepare product for years and then launch it, and then find out that nobody wants it. Everything it’s iterative. Everything’s a process. If there is a failure at the first, second, third stage, the damage is minimized.
So let me ask you, though, from a personal standpoint and for our podcast listeners, so something large at stake, a failure for you, how do you climb out of that? How do you respond to that? How do you exploit that and turn something that’s coal into gold?
Jerod Morris: It’s interesting that you ask that. Because when you suggested that we do this topic, I’ve always been in favor of the idea of ‘failing forward.’ I always kind of like it. It wasn’t until I really started to think deeply about it that I really stopped liking that phrase. For me, to answer your question, you’re going to fail, so when a failure happens, you want to use it as an opportunity to learn something.
Why Jerod Views a Copyblogger Post Series and Even His Most Successful Personal Blog Project as a Failure in Hindsight
Jerod Morris: As an example off the top of my head, about a year and a half ago, I started this series on Copyblogger called Headlines that Work. I thought it would be really cool to do this series and pick out some headlines work and analyze why they work. I did it for about three or four posts, and it did really well. Then it just kind of fell off because I just didn’t stay committed to it, didn’t keep doing it, and so I view that as a failure because a few of those worked, but it never really became this series that I wanted to. I lookay back on that, and I think it’s easy to grasp a lesson from it, which is that, if you’re going to go into this idea of a series like this, then you should have it baked out. You should plan it out before you just one day write a post and then say, “Hey, I’m going to create this series.”
What ended up happening is I didn’t have the idea fleshed out enough, wasn’t committed to it enough, and it kind of stopped. That’s a failure. Because I think people started to expect it. It didn’t come. That part’s not OKAY. But trying something new, that part was OKAY. Then learning kind of that content marketing lesson, right, of respecting your audience enough to, when you say you’re going to do a series, keep doing it, but I don’t lookay at that like, “Oh, this positive failure.” No. That was a failure. That’s something I shouldn’t do again. It happened, so let me learn something from it.
Demian Farnworth: I find that interesting because I don’t understand why you would call it a failure. We were talking about this before the show, I think we need to be more precise about our definition because really what that was an experiment. An experiment that didn’t work, so I guess there is a case for failure. But when I’m thinking of a failure, I’m thinking of a catastrophic — Let’s be honest, there’s nothing really at stake there, right? What you were doing, am I correct? I mean would you agree with that?
Jerod Morris: I think there was something at stake because I think you’re putting something out there. You’re almost making an inherit commitment to an audience that you then go back on. That to me is a failure because there was some progress there, and it stopped. That idea for a post series failed. That idea for teaching people about headlines failed. It really just failed because of lack of planning, lack of foresight on my part. I get what you’re saying. The experiment actually worked. The post series was good. I think it would have been there. The failure was just in continuing to execute and staying committed to it. In some ways, I lookay at Midwest Sports Fans, the sports blog I had for a while, as a failure.
Demian Farnworth: Really?
Jerod Morris: Obviously, I learned a lot from it, and so much good came from it. So there were a lot of successes, but when I see how there wasn’t really a plan to keep it going and how it’s fallen off and how something that was once very important to people, really isn’t there anymore. I lookay at that as a failure of leadership on my part because there just wasn’t enough planning. I didn’t understand well enough how to build a sustainable website at the time. I don’t think it’s good that, that has failed here as of late. I mean it succeeded for a while, but the fact that it couldn’t sustain, I think there’s lessons to take from it. I don’t think there’s any failing forward there.
I think that’s a failure, and I don’t think just saying, “It’s OKAY,” really does anything. Accepting that it happened and then lookaying back on it, trying to learn something from it, at least that way you get something out of it. But I’m not going to say that was a failure forward.
Demian Farnworth: So in this Paul Smith article, someone commented, he was being rhetorical, and he said, “Does this mean we should have a ‘Failure I, II, and III, taught at university?” He’s being rhetorical. There aren’t these classes in which you can sign up for part of the business program at Stanford or MIT in which you go through these classes and you have controlled failures. But I think there’s something to that idea. Do we need to teach failure? Do we need to teach how to handle failure?
Jerod Morris: I think so. I feel like I’m learning some interesting lessons about failure through the notes that you created for this episode and just thinking about it. Because here’s what I think is important. We talked about that Headlines that Work series, and you said maybe it’s not a failure, I did. I think it’s because you have to set a goal in the beginning. If you just go out and experiment, but there’s no real objective, no real goal, then failure is this kind of nebulous thing. And maybe you did, maybe you didn’t.
But for me, the goal for that series was this long-term series, maybe eventually turn it into a e-bookay, it’s going to become this big thing, and it just withered and died after three or four posts. To me, that’s a failure because I had in my mind a defined goal for what I wanted to get out of it. Perhaps too often we go into things with just, “Oh, well, it’s OKAY to fail, so let me just jump into this real quick.” Whereas, if we put a little more thought into it, define what success really means, define what the goal is, then I think it will give us a better idea of what’s a failure and what’s not.
Demian Farnworth: So how do you teach somebody to fail?
How Being Too Accepting of Failure Can Actually Be Disempowering
Jerod Morris: Well, it’s a really good question. A past business partner of mine had a great idea about this. He talked about controlled failures, which you kind of talked about with Copyblogger. Number one, we need to stop using the word ‘failure.’ The problem I keep getting into with this is that word can encompass so much, but it means so much to different people. We can be having a conversation about the same word and saying different things. What we need to think about more is we need to think in terms of experimentation. Setting specific goals for what we want to get out of an experiment, but defining what success or failure will mean for a particular endeavor.
If you’re starting a business, clearly, that business going under is failure. You can’t ultimately lookay at that as good. You need to have a commitment to learning from failure, but just this idea of, “Hey, go fail.” I just think … What that does to me is that dis-empowers you because it removes the necessity for you to really plan ahead and set yourself up for success. Because it’s like, “Oh, if I just fail, I’ll learn from it and everything will be OKAY.”
Well, I guess that’s good after the fact, but how about respecting failure more than that, and respecting it enough to really try and put yourself in a position to not do it with whatever it is? A post series, a business, you can view this on many different levels, and that way it will motivate you to put in the preparation to try and avoid the failure. Learn from failure, that’s great. You have to experiment. You don’t want to fear failure, but you still need to try and avoid failure at all costs I think.
Demian Farnworth: OKAY, so what about this idea of play? I think of I wrote a blog post called My Failed Month on Medium, but I knew going into it, it was an experiment. I wasn’t thinking either way. It was more like, “I want to see how this works and whether or not I can generate any traction on this and what it lookays like,” and it was all about just going out and having fun and trying something new. Not even thinking I could fail at this. It’s like, “Oh, here’s a shiny object. I’m going to go play with that.”
Jerod Morris: I don’t see anything wrong with that. You didn’t define success as, “Let me come up with a great Medium strategy and follow it through, or let me do that … ” I imagine if you had done it and really believed in Medium, you would have kept using it.
Demian Farnworth: Are you saying I had my preconceived notions already set?
Jerod Morris: Well, maybe, but I’m just saying I don’t think you set it up from the beginning like you needed to continue on with it for it to be a success. Success for you in that case was just learn. If that’s the case, then the fact that you didn’t keep doing it, that’s not a failure. Success when you start business is to create a sustainable business. If you don’t, that is a failure. Just saying, “That’s OKAY,” that might make you feel better, but I think it removes the responsibility that we should have to plan ahead and think.
I say this from experience because it’s one thing that I really try and do more of and that I see with podcasts that I’ve started that failed before and post series where you just jump into something without really thinking about it. You do want to experiment, yes, but spend some time defining what that success or failure is. Then prepare to not fail.
Demian Farnworth: Right, so do you think the fear of failure like numbs creativity?
Does the Fear of Failure Numb Creativity?
Jerod Morris: I think it can. That’s where this becomes a tricky discussion. Because you need to try and avoid failure, but you can’t fear it because if you’re constantly afraid of failing, then you’ll never do anything. It’s more, you don’t want to fear being outside of your comfort zone. You want to get comfortable being outside of your comfort zone and that will help you to not fear failing. We get into, there, kind of the semantics part of this because, to a certain extent, you should fear failing. You should fear failing. But you have to find a way to be comfortable enough with it that it doesn’t stop you from acting.
Demian Farnworth: I think it’s always healthier, at least I know personally – and I wonder what our listeners, how they respond to this — but if I’m in an environment, a work environment, in which I’m afraid of making mistakes, which was the place that I was at before years ago in the corporate world, where you got dinged for everything. Everything was such a serious matter. It’s like, “OKAY, there’s not much at stake here. Really what’s at stake is these people are just trying to validate their jobs.” I hated that job because there was no creativity. Everybody was afraid to make a mistake. It was about making people happy, making the people above you happy.
Clearly that fear of making mistakes, because I think it’s so important that we realize that the people who we surround ourselves with can impact how we feel and how creative … think about it, right? It’s hard to step out of your comfort zone, right? It’s hard to stretch and push limits if you feel like the world is going to collapse, or people are going to be upset with you. When you’re self-assured, when your parents are behind you, when your boss is behind you, you know when your coach is behind you, whatever situation you find yourself in, it’s so much easier to say, “OKAY, I’m going to go out and do my best, and if I fail, I know that that’s a good thing. It’s not an option. And I’m not trying to do that, but at the same I know that I’m no less of a person for having done that.”
Here’s the thing, too, and I was thinking about this, is that we would never sort of suggest like, OKAY, trophies for everybody, right? I think that does, more than anything, that sort of stifles creativity probably more than fear of failure, because what’s the incentive? What’s the motive? Particularly as men, having that competitive nature, I don’t like to lose. I don’t like to fail, and the fear of failure motivates me. Not just the sort of failure on a specific project, but fear of failure in the long run. Like, “What’s my legacy going to lookay like? What’s my life going to lookay like? Am I going to be a failure as a father? As a husband? As a writer?”
I view, whether this is wrong or not, I view it like if I’m forgotten after this generation, that I have somehow failed myself. I’ve set that up purposely so that I drive myself to continue to do better and to do greater and greater work. I have to have that motivation in there. We have to be in an environment, so I guess I encourage people, if they ever find themselves in an environment where they’re afraid of making mistakes or failure, then try to get out of that if you can.
Should We Fear Failure? Should It Leave a Scar?
Jerod Morris: I don’t know this whole idea, ‘does fearing failure stifle creativity.’ If you lookay at a lot of the best coaches, and you hear them talk about what motivates them and what they remember, they almost always talk about how they remember the losses. The losses stick with them. The losses hurt more than the wins feel good. A lot of these guys are driven by this fear of failure, but it doesn’t stifle their creativity. It motivates them. Because they don’t lookay at it as just, “Oh, well, it’s OKAY that we lost that game. No, it’s not OKAY that we failed, but we’re going to learn as much from it as possible. We’re going to try like hell not to fail the next time.”
Where I don’t like this, because I like this idea up to a point — the whole idea of you don’t want to let a fear of failure stop you from moving forward and you want to learn from it when it happens, that’s all good. The problem with it is when we use it to justify mistakes or justify failing when really we could have done more. It almost removes the responsibility from us. Because it’s like, “Oh, I failed. OKAY, but this is good, because failure’s good.” Well, instead of that, lookay back and, I think, take a little more responsibility.
Demian Farnworth: It should leave a scar. It should hurt very bad.
Why Do Silver Medalists so Often Come Back and Win Olympic Gold?
Demian Farnworth: You know Angela Duckworth did a study a number of years ago — and we’ll talk about this is the next episode actually — about perseverance and grit, but interesting finding is take Olympic medalists. You’ve got your gold, you’ve got your silver, and you’ve got your bronze. Those people who got the bronze medal didn’t really feel that bad about getting third place nearly as much the person who got the silver medal because they’re in second place, and they’re that close to having won.
The silver medalists just sort of through the roof type of feelings of having lost because they were just so close which I think is so interesting because how frustrating it can be. An Olympic medalist would never say, “Well, at least I gave it my best shot.” This is the point, though. Those silver medalists, almost more than likely, the next round of Olympics, they win the gold because they’re that much more driven.
Jerod Morris: Yeah. This idea of perseverance and practice — which we’re going to talk about in the next episode — it’s such a perfect follow-up for this because the fear that I have of failing is that you fail, and it kills your motivation. Or it just kind of beats you down, and you stop moving forward. You stop trying. That’s why perseverance is so important. Because that’s that ability to fail or make mistakes or have experiments that don’t work out like you want them to, but you take what you learn and you keep moving forward. And you keep moving forward.
The Importance of Defining What, Specifically, Constitutes Failure and Success in Any Given Activity
Jerod Morris: That’s what you don’t want to let failure do is stop your positive momentum. You want to try and find some way that, that can keep you moving forward. Hopefully, part of that is approaching it with the right kind of mindset to where you’re not, don’t be OKAY with failure. Don’t go into it saying, “It’s OKAY to fail.” Go into it doing everything you can to not fail. To do that, I think you have to define what failure and success is for any given thing, and that just requires a little thought.
I know starting to do that for myself personally has really helped me, not just avoid failure, but attack projects in the right way and in a better mindset than just saying, “Oh, it’s OKAY if this fails. Whatever happens it will be OKAY.” No, it won’t be OKAY. Whatever happens, you’ll be able to learn from it, but that doesn’t mean it’s OKAY.
How Failure Relates to Mastery
Demian Farnworth: Failure is an outcome, right? But what is it we’re doing on that way? We’re trying to master something, right? I think you brought this up in the conversation with James, trying to learn calculus — or maybe it was James who brought this up — if you’re trying to learn calculus, you’re going to fail. You’re going to make mistakes. You’re going to get problems wrong over and over and over until things start to come together. Then you’ve mastered that discipline.
What’s interesting too is there’s a bookay by a gal named Sarah Lewis called The Rise and subtitle is Creativity: The Gift of Failure and the Search for Mastery. If you think about it, what we’re after when we say that we want to play, we want to be the Thomas Edison who goes into his laboratory and doesn’t fail a thousand times or finds ten thousands ways of something that doesn’t work. We’re trying to master something.
Your mention of Michael Jordan. He was trying to master the discipline of playing basketball. The thing, though, I think that’s so interesting, so we’re all trying to become masters at this discipline that, ultimately, there is never going to be a level of mastery that we reach and that we’re done. Sarah Lewis, this is a quote I was leading up to, she says, “Masters are not experts because they take a subject to its conceptual end. They are masters because they realize that there isn’t one. On utterly smooth ground, the path from aim to attainment is in the permanent future.” In other words, it’s always sort of lookaying ahead and thinking, “I’ve mastered this to a certain level, but there’s so much more that I have to do. There’s so much more opportunity to fail.”
It’s always encouraging to me to hear about people who are in their 70s and 80s who are still striving for greatness in spite of it. It’s easy to sort of check out at 60. You hit 60. You retire and like, “I’m done. I’ve sort of got my laurels, so I’m going to rest on those.” So I’m always really inspired by those people who continue to do it, because you could go to the grave. It was T. C. Boyle, a novelist, a mainstream novelists, who said that, “My retirement plan is the coffin,” because he’s going to keep on doing it until the very end. I love that encouragement.
Jerod Morris: I agree with you. I love that quote about they’re masters because they realize that there isn’t a conceptual end and that you can keep going.
Demian Farnworth: Why do we do it then? I guess we can close with this, why do we do it? Why do we put ourselves through that?
Jerod Morris: Why do we put ourselves through what?
Demian Farnworth: Through failing? Knowing that we tried something, we’re going to fail?
Jerod Morris: Because it’s inevitable. If you don’t want to fail, then don’t get up in the morning. That’s the thing. You will. You’re going to fail. Even if you think through it beforehand and you understand what success and failure means, you will still fail. We’re not saying that. We’re not saying that you should avoid failure because that means that you avoid doing anything. Because you will fail. I just think the distinction is let’s not be okayay with it. Let’s not celebrate it. Let’s celebrate failing and learning from it. Let’s celebrate overcoming failure and dusting yourself off and getting back up after it happens. But let’s not just celebrate failure itself because it dis-empowers you to think that failures okayay.
Failure’s not okayay. It’s how you respond to it, and how you prepare to avoid it. Those, to me, are the two most important activities, the two important things. I think too often we just get this focus on failure. It’s like, “Well, they failed, and now they’re going to be better for it.” Well, maybe. Let’s see how they prepare the next time, and let’s see how they deal with it.
How to Apply the “24-Hour Rule” to Success and Failure
Demian Farnworth: Right. Are you familiar with the 24-hour rule? It was John Maxwell who I first heard it from, but he basically said, “Whether it’s a celebration or a failure, allow yourself 24 hours to celebrate or, if you’re lost, to mope around.” Which I think is interesting because I know my tendency — just thinking through the idea of how do you respond to failure — if I fail, I want to resist the emotional response to that because I don’t want to deal with that. I realize that it’s OKAY. It’s healthy, and that’s how you kind of grow through that. I liked his rule because it allowed you that time, so like, “For the next 24 hours, I’m going to cry my eyes out because this epic failure, or I’m really going to really enjoy this.”
That’s the other thing, too. If I get a win, I don’t want to take credit for it. I want to avoid being emotionally connected to it for whatever neurotic reason, but I realize that, especially as I get older, that emotions are healthy and that we need to kind of indulge in them occasionally. Both of them — whether it’s a failure or it’s a celebration — it’s OKAY to indulge them, but only do it for a short period of time. Because then you have to pick yourself back up because I think that’s it. When you fail, indulge in those emotions for a very short period of time, but then pick yourself up and move on.
Jerod Morris: Yeah, I agree. Indulging in the emotion is important.
Demian Farnworth: Take responsibility.
Jerod Morris: Yeah, if it’s success and you just gloss over it and you don’t indulge that emotion, well, what are you working toward? If it’s failure, but you just move right on past it and don’t indulge kind of that negativity or that bad feeling, then what are you trying to avoid? I think the beauty about that rule is it really helps you understand better on this visceral level what you’re going for or what you’re trying to avoid it — which I think will help you get there.
We want to avoid failure as much as we possibly can. It’s just we need to understand it’s inevitable so that we don’t let it beat us down, but we still should try and avoid it. That just requires preparation, understanding how we define success or failure for any endeavor. Not doing that is just kind of a cop out. It’s just kind of laziness.
Demian Farnworth: I agree.
Jerod Morris: Which I know from experience, and those are times I regret.
Demian Farnworth: Indeed. I think this podcast, this episode, was a pretty good success.
Jerod Morris: You think so? I hope so. I think so.
Demian Farnworth: Yeah, yeah. Well, I’m glad we didn’t purposely try to fail just so we could say, “Hey, lookay, here’s an episode that failed.”
Jerod Morris: Right, exactly. That would not be good, but either way, we would be persevering on to the next topic, on to the next episode.
Demian Farnworth: That’s right.
Jerod Morris: Which is going to be about perseverance and practice. It’s interesting how these last three episodes have kind of worked very well together, because James started talking about failure.
Demian Farnworth: Dovetailed.
Jerod Morris: Yeah.
Demian Farnworth: Dovetailed. Well, I think, too, all the concepts that we have worked through actually all do kind of fit together in some way from choosing yourself, taking responsibility, moving through all those. Like what do we talk with Joanne? Anyway, yeah, I think they’ve all sort of dovetailed into each other, and yeah, so good.
Jerod Morris: Yes. Alright, Demian, let’s talk soon. Let’s continue this conversation and talk about perseverance and practice.
Demian Farnworth: That sounds good, buddy.
Jerod Morris: Alright.
Demian Farnworth: Thank you, everybody.
Jerod Morris: Talk to you all later.
Thank you very much for listening to this episode of The Lede. We are always greatly appreciative of your attention and your ears, so thank you for lending them to us for the last, oh, 35 minutes or so.
Do want to mention that The Lede is of course brought to you by the Rainmaker Platform, and this has been an exciting fortnight for the Rainmaker Platform as some of the new Pro features were actually released recently, the learning management system and the marketing automation. These tools are very, very exciting.
You definitely want to make sure that you start your 14-day free trial. You’ll get an opportunity to upgrade to get these Pro features. They are definitely features that, if you are going to be building a membership site, if you’re going to build a course, if you want to be able to start to incorporate ideas of adaptive content that we’ve talked about on Copyblogger.com, these Pro features of the Rainmaker Platform are really going to help you do it.
I’ve been in there playing with them, doing some webinars with Brian Clark where we can really show you these features. Show you how they work, what they can do, and so make sure that you get in there. Check out those webinars. Take it for a test drive with the 14-day free trial, and see if it’s for you.
I think you’re really, really going to like what these new features bring to the table. I know I’m already excited about incorporating them with what we’re going with The Showrunner. I’m excited to incorporate them with what I’m doing with some of my side projects as well.
Just wanted to give you a heads up on those if for some reason you hadn’t heard about them yet. Go to Rainmaker.FM/Platform. Check those out. I think you’ll like them.
Alright, everybody, thank you again for listening. We will talk to you next to week on The Lede.