Failure is an almost inevitable step on the road to success, but there is something that you can do that might allow you to bypass failure.  You might not avoid every failure but you can avoid many pitfalls by simply doing this one thing.

Learn from the failures of others.

Yep, it’s that easy.  Our failures are great ways to learn and to succeed but it’s even better to learn from the failures of others; after all, they’ve already invested time and resources that you might not have to.

The other day I wrote about the three places we can fail on our roads to success.  However, if you can learn from the failures of others, you might just skip right past those failures and go straight to success.  Think about it: if somebody else has already done what you’re trying to do, or has done something similar, you can pick up where they left off rather than wasting precious time and resources making the same mistakes.

Let’s say that you’re working on the design for a leprechaun-powered car but you’re smarter than yours truly.  Let’s say that rather than trying to fail well and quickly, you’ve decided that you want to learn from others, how do you think you could do that?

A Few Specific Places to Look:

  • Peer groups: Form or find and join a group of people who have already worked on leprechaun-powered cars.  Or, if you can’t find any of those people on this side of their medication, perhaps you could find two groups – one that has worked on developing cars, and the other that has worked with leprechauns as an alternative energy.
  • Mentors: Perhaps, if you have the luck of the leprechauns, you can find someone who is willing and able to mentor you in the ways of alternative leprechaun energy and car design.  If so, make the most of your time with your mentor.  Ask questions about success and failure and process.  Be the sponge!
  • Biographies and Memoirs: Biographies and memoirs are great sources of deep knowledge and experience.  In these we can stand on the shoulders of the giants who went before (figuratively, of course).  If you can’t find the biography of the Lee Iacoca of leprechaun cars, perhaps you can find someone who had experience with leprechaun union negotiations.  In fact, even people with seemingly unrelated lives can generate great insight.
    Shameless plug: Check out Why I Failed in the Music Business: and How NOT to Follow in my Footsteps by Steve Grossman (disclaimer: that’s an Amazon Affiliate link and Steve is a friend of mine but I really want to see him sell a lot of books).  Steve is a monster drummer whose career in the music business spanned two decades of studio and road work in Nashville.  But, at the end, he considers his music career a failure and is happy to share what he learned so that you can succeed – even if you’re building leprechaun powered cars.
  • Topic-Specific Books: If you can find a book called “How to Engineer a Leprechaun-Powered Car,” buy that book.  But if not, read as much as you can to learn as deeply as possible about your subject matter.  Don’t just gather facts, gather insight and deep knowledge.  Learn about leprechaun history and overall car design and trends in alternative energy.

This Really Works

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve bypassed failure because of something that somebody told me or something that I read.  One that stands out in my mind right now was a few years ago.  Someone was trying to recruit me for “a GREAT opportunity.”

As it turns out, I was being asked to join Quixtar (think Amway).  Now, regardless of what you think about multi-level-marketing, this wouldn’t have been a good idea for me.  As I was sitting through the sales pitch, imagining my life without financial concerns, what it would be like to live the easy life with a yacht and a private jet, something kept coming to my mind: “You’ll just be chasing the money.”

Years of study and training and mentoring had taught me at least this one thing, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you as well (Matthew 6:33).

Because I had the perspective of what was most important to me, I could see that this would derail me.  It would be contrary to the goals and ambitions and values I had at the time.  I would have been serving money rather than money serving my needs.  So I passed.

Obviously, I don’t know what would have happened if I would have pursued Quixtar but I can tell you this – even if I’d been successful at that I would have been a failure.  I would have failed because I would have been chasing the wrong goals (for me).

Are You Ready?

Are you ready to skip past failure by following this one suggestion?
Are you ready to pay it forward and help somebody else bypass failure and go straight to success?

Why not share your plans, stories, or recommended resources in the comments?

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