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Iteration is where the magic is
Moving away from the failure mindset to one of deep conviction and iteration
I love turning boring, overused and old advice into my own world view.
One such thing that has often annoyed me is the constant focus on the idea that we have to fail plenty of times to succeed. That we have to try a million different ideas to get to that successful glory of a success.
I call bullshit on this. And it’s not that it is technically incorrect advice, it’s more that it lacks a complete picture and way of seeing the world.
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Where were my failures?
If we’re all supposed to have failed to find success, then it made me look at myself as a failure, or to focus completely on where the fails were.
Which, when I looked back at my experiences, did not feel right. I had not failed. I had spent many years creating change for an industry that also happened to become a successful business. I showed up when others didn’t. I cared when others did not. I experimented when others would not.
I lost hope. Got stress. Cried those tears. And then picked myself up.
Sure, I could’ve done better, there were times:
I didn't do a job as good as I could have
made poor judgements
didn’t get enough sales as I would have liked
I was blind to what is now obvious
I started and stopped projects
got tired and overwhelmed
or perhaps I simply didn’t have capacity or the right energy, at that point in time
Or maybe market conditions created situations out of my control and certain experiences meant we didn’t see the flaws in our plans until later. Or maybe, I discovered that I didn’t like something I thought I would.
However, fundamentally I kept showing up to figure out how to do better.
That's not failure. That’s part of life.
Failure and disappointment are not the same
You don’t know what cards life will deal. Making the best with what you have and being ok with what you achieve is what matters. Often things are outside of our control.
Disappointment is when you don’t achieve what you originally set out to do. Disappointment is not failure. Disappointment is recognising that iteration is required. You can look for different ways to find successes based on where you are, what you have access to and the aspirations you have.
Failure is not about not achieving what you set out to do. Failure is to not adapt your vision as life and the world around you progresses. We cannot all go out and expect to achieve the same things. No one knows what is around the corner. We must keep adapting what we are trying for.
Failure is to not to try. Failure is to lose hope. Failure is to stop.
Disappointment happens. We must mentally plan for it.
Iteration happens whether you win or fail
Some say you need to fail x amount of times to succeed. I say I’ve never failed, only learned, kept an open mind and iterated.
I’m always asking myself questions, like:
was this a good experience?
what made it good?
what could be improved?
what can we get rid of?
what feedback did I get?
am I disappointed in any way?
is it what I expected?
We fail to see opportunities if we can only see room for improvement from failures. There is room to improve everywhere. We improve and do better when we understand the whole system and see that everything in life is interconnected.
We can improve upon our successes. We can improve on our failures. We can improve on everything in-between.
There are opportunities to do better everywhere, should you choose to look. The more we stick around, the more we choose to see, the better we are able to take advantage of what surrounds us.
Iteration is where the progress really happens
I took my experiences and iterated on them. Sometimes it took years to evolve. I did my best to keep an open mind. Most importantly I questioned them and did my best to do better next time. Usually imperfectly, but at least I was iterating.
Iteration is where you really learn. It's where you grow. It's where you discover the things that no one else can be bothered to learn about.
Iteration means you show up to learn from your successes and losses. Iteration means you know you can’t stand still, doing so leads to the failure to see the opportunities that surround you.
Failure is just one very negative perspective
And what can I say? I’m a person who likes to have positivity in my life.
To say you have failed is a pretty negative mindset. It focuses on what didn’t work, rather than the whole picture. If I or someone else says I have failed my immediate reaction is that of anxiety and stress.
When I look at it from an iteration perspective I am forced to look at the whole picture of why it didn’t work.
You can say ‘that didn’t work’, instead of that ‘that failed’. Failure almost closes down the conversation, we naturally become more defensive. However, by saying that something didn’t work it means we can become more open to looking at the whole picture and exploring what might work.
Failure makes it personal. Saying something didn’t work means looking at the whole picture, understanding we are part of a system and figuring out ways to iterate.
Failure closes doors, iteration opens them.
Failure is not knowing what matters
And only you can decide what matters to you. It is up to you to find your conviction.
For me, it’s a mixture of creating better ways of doing business with community at the heart of it. I’m still exploring words, ideas and businesses for this.
We all suck when we start. All of us. But in time we get better though there will always be room for improvement. When we fail it’s more likely because we’ve either given up on what we’re working towards, we never had real conviction, or we’ve sold out on our values.
When you don’t know what matters you are constantly stalling and restarting. It’s hard to get anywhere in those situations. It’s exhausting and confusing. When you lack conviction, you don’t really care enough to see the opportunities around you.
When you have conviction, you play the long game. A focus on iteration is what someone with an understanding of the long game has.
The people I seem to respect the most and that I feel are succeeding are the people who have iterated, not failed. They are obsessed with something. An idea. A goal. A problem. A specific skill or a niche.
They have enough conviction to iterate their flywheel to perceived perfection. This is what leads to innovation and boundaries being crossed.
🌟 Iteration is where the magic is. 🌟