How many times should I accept failure for a particular outcome before I stop trying?
Everyone says that we should have patience and keep on trying until we find results. But you don’t know how many times you should try. To answer this question, you need to first check what change you implemented in the process that you followed earlier to address the problem. If there is no change, but you just repeated the same process and disappointed to get the same result, you should not count this attempt at all. There is no surprise in getting the same result as long as you follow the same process, right?
There is some historical evidence behind the relationship between TESTING and SUCCESS. We know that thinking as an activity in the brain has developed during our long evolution period. Scientists have come to a conclusion that movement in living things causes thinking. Active brain is there only in life that is moving constantly because thinking is required to continuously internalize the next movement, learn from external world for activities like finding and securing food, protecting life from threats etc.
Humans are built to move, internalize the leanings through constant iteration and improve their leanings to survive in the external environment. This activity is nothing but TESTING. Our brain is built to test and assess the results whatever we do through thinking and form patterns that work and internalize the successful patterns as habits. When a habit fails to work, brain goes into relearning mode to correct itself. In the modern world, we humans have somehow lost this way of testing things and became complacent with what works for us and left the rest to something called failure.
We know that software in testing phase before announcing it to the general public on license is called BETA version. BETA version software undergoes rigorous testing for discovering all the possible defects and fixing them before releasing it for commercial license. We need to have the mind-set of perennial ‘BETA’ when it comes to dealing with problems of life.
Life is constantly changing. Rarely does it happen that you can use an advice as it is and get the stated benefit out of it. You need to contextualize whatever you learn for your own circumstances in order to get complete benefit from it. But often, we don’t know how to customize ideas for our own life. The best way to do it is through TESTING. If you fail when you implement a successful idea, it means neither your idea is wrong nor it isn’t applicable for you. Your context is inappropriate. You need to try, test outcomes and try again until you find your ideal context to make that idea working.
There is a way to test thoroughly whatever you do and get enough patience until you find the right process – HONEST ASSESSMENT of yourself. Yes, unless you are brutally honest with yourself, you cannot see what went wrong with the process.
For example, you set a goal to complete a certification by next month, but you failed to do so. How do you de-construct this failure?
There are two kinds of questions you need to ask yourself:
- Resource Allocation
- Resource Utilization
Without allocating the required resources, you cannot blame yourself for failure. Most of the people fail at this stage itself. You need to ask the following questions to ensure that you have allocated the right resources:
- Have you spoken to at least 1-2 people who have cleared that certification? [This gives right information and tactics to win]
- Have you gathered minimum information like how to apply, how much it costs, where to get study materials etc.? [The minimum required information to start your project]
- Have you allocated sufficient time for preparation for this? [The most important resource for achieving anything you want]
Unless you know what resources need to be invested to get a desired result, you will not be able to get confidence to work towards your goal. In case you do not have the resources and cannot get them in the meaningful timeframe, understand that it is beyond your control, and take up something else that you can achieve.
However, understanding and allocating resources for your goal are just necessary, but not sufficient. You need to ensure that you utilize these resources appropriately. For that you need to ask a different set of questions and test your approaches. The approach of testing will be useful here.
- Have you set the manageable goals? [For example, you might have thought that you would study for 2 hours a day, but you did not see yourself reading more than an hour per day since you begin this preparation. And this applies to not just preparation hours, but every resource that you invest for this goal.]
- Are you able to make progress on your way to preparation for this certification? If not, where did you stuck? Identify the sub-process where you failed to move forward. Try to change that process.
Setting the manageable sub-goals and iterating the process is the key for finishing any complex task. For this, you need to be brutally honest with yourself. Blame process rather than yourself for failures and keep testing your process until you get it right.
Action for Today
Do you remember any of your goals where you thought you had allocated enough resources to achieve it, but still failed?
I request you to bring that goal up today. Once you are sure that you have allocated the required resources, start testing your attempts and assess yourself brutally until you find the way that works for you. Let me know your experience.