Failure is just Feedback

Looking back at my childhood I see I was afraid to fail. And I shouldn’t have. I wish I failed more. I wish I took more risk and failed more often. I wish I was wiser back then to see that failure isn’t about looking or feeling bad. Who cares what other people think. Who cares about the labels. It’s just noise, someone else’s noise. All that matters is that the more I Failed the more Feedback I would have received earlier in life. And here lays the root of the discussion on Failure and Success. Now when I say Success I don’t mean rolling in a treasure of money, rather being in a position to handle events that accomplish its intended purpose with more ease and grace.

That gut feeling

Few days ago I was speaking with a friend about the traits successful people have and their drivers. What is it that distinguishes these minorities from the rest and their guides to success.

In the business world, it is said that those successful have a gut feeling about business direction. This is extremely so with exceptional leaders who are known to drag companies out of holes and into success. Their gut feeling didn’t come from the sky, it came from experience. This leader spent early days failing, getting feedback, and learning from this feedback.

Let’s examine another example, the last time you drove your car. You probably listened to the radio while having a chat with your passenger/s and still managed to operate a vehicle that is travelling faster than the fastest land animal. All while avoiding collision with other vehicles & pedestrians. How is it that you traveled from point A to point B so autonomously.

This is due to a learning process you went through which started at the conscious level and with enough emotional experience got recorded into the subconscious (automatic) mind. That’s where the gut feeling comes from. That consciously unknown territory sending you a signal on direction.

Failure is important, early!

Both cases outlined above, the leader and a vehicle driver required early experience, early feedback.

The leader would have moved through the management ranks of a business over the years learning from the experience. The driver from the early days bunny hopping the vehicle or stalling it a few times. The reinforcements of these experiences today make you an exceptional successful person in that field. An accumulation of data (experiences) to make lightning fast decisions based on prior feedback. The power of the subconscious mind.

It is our human nature to want instant gratification. Everything today and now with minimal effort. But nature doesn’t work like that. Look at how your body consumes energy. We eat (a lot), pushing calories into our bodies and expect to not gain weight. If your body burned everything really quickly (so you wouldn’t gain weight) you’d be stuck eating all your life. A bit like the beautiful humming-bird. Your body takes time to extract the energy from food so you can live longer without needing to constantly feed yourself. Ok so you understand this simple concept.

Looking at how things work in nature it’s also important to realise that in order for you to encode (automate) something into your subconscious mind it will also take time. Learning is nothing more than feedback from a set of experiences. The most effective experiences are those where you make mistakes, you fail. Because they involve emotion. Read Think And Grow Rich (1938) to understand the power of emotion in encoding the subconscious memory.

Failure is punished

But hold on, failure is mostly punished. In our society failure is not looked positively upon. We only focus on and reward the successes. We get punished for failure. Hmm… and so the paradox begins. We see this in the corporate world (with the exception of some startups) too often it could cost our job, we see this especially in early childhood and the humility it brings to children when their peers laugh and tease them. Not to mention parents punishing failure.

So if we fear failure how can we learn. How can we change a life long fear of failure into a positive.

Who cares what they think

One solution is not giving a damn about what people say. It’s not going to be easy but you need to realize that failure is just feedback and the stuff in between is just noise. Noise that you can safely ignore and treat as just crappy noise. If this noise doesn’t agree with your feedback then it doesn’t deserve your attention because you are experiencing in order to get feedback to grow stronger and build that gut instinct which will help you drive your world (not theirs) into success.

If you think this is all nonsense then read a few biographies of great man. Man like Richard Branson in Losing My Virginity: How I’ve Survived, Had Fun, and Made a Fortune Doing Business My Way. Branson explains how he built the Virgin Empire. One of the world largest branding giants behind everything from music, air travel (commercial and space), merchandise, clothing, entertainment etc… He did all of this because he chose to experience, fail early and learn from the feedback he received. He didn’t care what people thought of him (that noise) . One thing you will learn from Branson is that his story is littered with failures (feedback). But overall, he did bloody well and therefore is living the dream. His dream. Not someone else’s.

Start today

Ok so it’s never too late to start. Yes starting early in life would have meant that today you would have been in a different position. But starting today is better than not starting at all and then wishing on your death-bed you did more with your life. Regret hurts more than fear of failure. If you want to remember what a great life you had, start today. Make small incremental changes in shaping this new habit so that it becomes a part of the new you. Never forget that failure is just feedback, there will always be noise – who cares about it, and that each day you are only getting better to ultimately start making successful gut decisions. That is success right there.

Here’s to feedback!

~ Ernest

Author: Ernest W. Semerda

Aussie in Silicon Valley. Veryfi CoFounder (#YC W17 cohort). GSDfaster Founder. View all posts by Ernest W. Semerda

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