One of the biggest things I have learned over the past few months is how important it is to fail. You can read about it from so many prominent authors, and hear about it from so many successfully people, but it won’t start to make sense until you start to embrace your failures.
“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” – Winston Churchill
When I first really dove into the Internet, I wanted to do a hundred million things. I had dozens of ideas for websites, businesses, services and content that I wanted to create. I wanted to do a weekly TWiT-style show called “Micro Patrol” for a blog I own, MicroPatrol.com. I wanted to do another weekly podcast about politics with live pundits. I wanted to write a book, create a short film and show off all of my talents.
As it turns out, “talent” is a relative term. Your mother will always tell you that you’re talented and that you will be successful in whatever you put your mind to. But, as you get older, you realize that certain “talents” were relative to your mother’s perspective. Kudos to her for giving you the slap on your back, but you really have to discover what your real talents are.
As more and more people claim to be “entrepreneurial coaches,” “social media experts” and “marketing consultants” you have to find what makes you stand out in your field. Are you the best at what you do, or just another person with a catchy title? (This can apply to any market or industry.)
What has really helped me develop my niche and discover my talents is by trying a variety of different things and figuring out what works by identifying what doesn’t work.
Take Google as an example. They have created dozens of products and launched them in “beta” and tons of them have not lasted until today, on the other hand, there are a number of products that have withstood time and are adopted by more and more people. So what makes these products successful?
Instead of trying to find out what makes something successful, try finding what made the failures fail. Gauging the driving reasons behind success is difficult—if not impossible. On the contrary, discovering why something failed is extremely easy. You simply discover what people did not like about it and what steps you took that didn’t work.
“Do not fear mistakes. You will know failure. Continue to reach out.” – Benjamin Franklin
It might seem difficult to spend so much time focusing on failure, but by studying what you did, the steps you took and the end result, you can quickly discover what to change to “do it better” the next time around.
By trying tons of different things and quickly identifying what was working and what wasn’t, I was able to trim a lot of the unsuccessful ideas out of my overgrown idea tree, leaving more room for the good ones to grow.
One of the things that I quickly “turned down” was my focus on my blog and weekly podcast “Micro Patrol.” This was very hard to do.
I had a lot of positive feedback that people really enjoyed the format and the content and that I was doing a great job at it. That sounds like some great positive encouragement and a good reason to keep moving forward, right? Well, kind of.
What I noticed was that the numbers were not there. I was not getting the viewership, I was having trouble maintaining format and I didn’t have the time to dedicate to that project. Realizing that it took a lot of time and had a virtually nonexistent return was the motivation I needed to move on to something else.
Now that I have recognized that I can create better content in less time and get a better result, I am becoming more successful in my content creation. It’s not a science and what I’m doing now might not work forever—people’s interests change at the speed of light—but I can trust that I am doing a better job at investing my time.
The most important thing about failing is what it teaches you. By applying the knowledge you get from researching your failures to your next project, you have the upper hand. When you avoid the steps you took that resulted in your failure, you will be less likely to fail again. In order to start becoming successful, expect to fail, embrace it and learn from it. Failure—if respected—will be the driving force towards your success. Always do better.