Friday, January 26, 2018

Fail Forward to Success

Thomas Edison, who was considered as a kid to be stupid, once said, "I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.”  Edison knew that there is no success without failure.  Failure is simply learning what will and won’t work.  Imagine if Edison quit after the 1st attempt, the 3rd attempt, the 999th attempt?  Albert Einstein couldn’t speak until he was 4 years old and was also considered to be of below average intelligence.  Henry Ford failed and went broke five different times before he became successful.  Walt Disney was fired once for his alleged lack of imagination.  Imagine the world if these people allowed failure to define them, not refine them?

Thru failure comes learning, thru learning comes improvement, thru improvement comes excellence, thru excellence comes legacy

Fear of Failure
Think of a time when you didn’t try something because you were afraid to fail. It happens to all of us. Prior to becoming a triathlete, I was asked to join a team of triathletes and train with them for a full distance Ironman. I didn’t want to. I was afraid that if I joined, I would fail.  If I failed, it would mean that I’m not good enough, I’m a failure, and that I don’t have what it takes. Haven’t we all felt that way? Maybe your fear of failure is tied to a potential new job, a potential new relationship, a potential new class or skill, a potential new activity, a potential new social circle.  Realize your fear, and then give it a shot anyway.  Nobody is perfect - we’ve all failed!  If you fail, at least you’ll be in the company of 100% of the rest of the human population.

Refine, Not Define
My favorite analogy is that failure is more like a bruise than a tattoo.  Failure isn’t permanent.  Failure doesn’t define you. If used properly, failure will refine you.  That’s the concept of failing forward - learning the lessons from the experience, applying those learnings, and trying again.  Yet too many people are afraid that failure will forever define them, so they take the easy way out. Thru failure comes learning, thru learning comes improvement, thru improvement comes excellence, thru excellence comes legacy. Thomas Edison’s story best exemplifies this concept.  He failed 1,000 times, but instead of using that failure to define himself as a failure, he used it to refine himself as one of the greatest innovators of all time. Failure doesn’t define you, it refines you.

A Winning Perspective
Fail fast, learn fast, win fast, and win big” ~ Scott Howe.  Failure is awesome! It’s your way of telling the world I haven’t yet figured this out. It’s your way of telling the world I am getting closer to the solution because I found another approach that won’t work. It’s a stepping-stone on the way to victory. Failure is a tool. It’s an opportunity to learn. It’s an opportunity to reassess your approach. It’s an opportunity to demonstrate patience, resilience, character, and fortitude. It’s an opportunity to set aside your ego, humble yourself, and accept that neither you nor I are perfect. We’re human. We’re broken. We make mistakes. We’re imperfect... and that’s okay. While we were in fact wonderfully made and designed for accomplishment, we were also made to fail. The failure, however, was never meant to define us— it was meant to be a stepping stone on the way to success.

Making Failure Actionable
Start by doing an honest introspection of how you currently handle failure.  Do you get angry, blame others, get defensive, or make excuses?  That’s okay if you said yes - most people do.  Starting this second, you have the power to change that response going forward. Make a commitment to yourself to demonstrate resilience when, not if, you fail. Accept failure as a part of life. Allow yourself and others to fail. Consider failure to be a learning opportunity.  Make it a point to ask yourself a few key questions: what went wrong, why did it go wrong, what could you have done differently, how can you apply these learnings in the future?  By using these techniques in both your personal and professional life, you can reduce your fear of failure and turn failure events into opportunities to become better than ever.

Welcome to the new you.  Enjoy the journey... 

Check out Enjoy the Journey on at
Learn more about Dave VanEpps or request a speaking engagement at
#enjoythejourney #motivation #inspiration #transformation #results #success #failforward

Friday, January 12, 2018

Tune for Performance

To create impeccably high-quality sound, audio engineers have a series of controls at their fingertips, which are carefully set to create the desired output.  The human body is no different. Unfortunately, we often define our own success by believing every control has to be set to maximum at all times, and when we don’t have enough time and energy, we feel overwhelmed and unsuccessful.  To create impeccably high-quality results, each of us has a series of controls at our fingertips, which we need to carefully adjust to create the desired results. “You can do anything, but not everything.” ~David Allen

Your Performance Dashboard
Picture a dashboard, like the one above, in which there is a series of controls. Think of each control as belonging to a particular dimension of your life.  Common dimensions include things like religion, marriage or relationship, kids, job, education, hobbies, exercise, community activities, relaxation, or anything else that consumes time and energy.  On your performance dashboard,  each dimension of your life has a corresponding control, and it can be adjusted on a scale ranging from 1 to 10.  A score of 1 represents a non-priority, on which you want to spend as little time and energy as possible.  A score of 10 represents a top priority, on which you want to spend every waking minute and every ounce of energy.

Define Your Controls
The first step is to figure out where you spend your time and energy.  Take a look at the common dimensions listed above, and consider all aspects of your life that either do consume time and energy or should consume time and energy.  Keep in mind that you should have controls for all dimensions of your life that consume time and energy, even if you don’t want them to!  For example, I have a control for watching TV, and even though I don’t want to spend much time watching TV, having a control set to 1 helps remind me that if I don’t manage that time, it will subconsciously work it’s way into my life. I also created a control for relaxation, which forces me to make time to relax. What controls do you need in your life? Grab a piece of paper and write them down.

Tune for Performance
Now it gets real. For each dimension, set the control to something in the range of 1-10.  The tricky part here is not setting everything to 10.  Sure, we all want to have wildly successful careers, awesome relationships, and abundant quality time with loved ones.  However, when time and energy are limited, where will you put the extra effort?  For example, if you’re single, no kids, and climbing the corporate ladder, work may be a 9 or 10. However, if you get married, have a baby, and are no longer seeking career advancement, maybe that control is set to a 5 or 6.  It doesn’t mean you’re trying any less - it just means you’re not putting in the extra time and effort, which may now be going to your newborn. Once you’ve scored the major dimensions of your life, stack rank the scores to make sure they align with your priorities in life.  

Now that you’ve tuned your human machine for superior performance, do a quick calibration.  Take a look at how you’re actually spending your time and exerting your energy.  Does it align with how you set the controls?  If not, make some course corrections, and find ways to get yourself back in alignment. This may require you to adjust your calendar - maybe you need to wake-up earlier to make time for exercise, or maybe you need to schedule 30 minutes in the evening to meditate.  It may also require you to adjust your to-do list.  Maybe you’re doing things you shouldn’t, in which case you can delete them, or maybe you’re not doing things you should. Once aligned, continue monitoring to stay aligned!

The only constant in life is change. Recalibration should be done periodically to ensure the controls continue to reflect your priorities in life.  Furthermore, recalibration should be done whenever you undergo a major life event.  Items like birth of a child, death of a loved one, a new relationship, a new job or promotion, major illness, a new hobby or activity, etc. are events that cause us to recalibrate. Consider the example of a new exercise enthusiast, who quickly becomes so addicted to working out that it interferes with relationships, kid time, and even work.  In this case, recalibrating helps determine where the extra time for exercise is coming from. Make it a point to periodically recalibrate for success.

Fail Forward
You will make mistakes.  You’ll accidentally omit time-consuming dimensions of your life, you’ll misalign a few controls here and there, and you won’t always get it right.  That’s normal!  Learn from your mistakes, apply your learnings, and keep trying.  Before  long, you’ll find yourself better managing your time, becoming more productive, feeling less overwhelmed, and you’ll be happier because you’ll be spending your time the way you want to do it.

Welcome to the new you.  Enjoy the journey... 

Check out Enjoy the Journey on at
Learn more about Dave VanEpps or request a speaking engagement at
#enjoythejourney #motivation #inspiration #transformation #results #success

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