The Tuition We Must ALL Pay
“Don’t wish it were easier, wish you were better. Don’t wish for less problems, wish for more skills.” – Jim Rohn
That’s right. We’re kicking off 2024 with a good ol’ fashioned mental recalibration. If you’re just here for the “tactical” tips, because you feel like those will give you the best shot at winning in business and life, you can find plenty of that in our other posts (or in one of the many products we sell).
That’s not what we’ll be focusing on today. Today we will be analyzing something that has impacted (and will continue to impact) every single entrepreneur on this planet.
(If you’re reading this, that means YOU too.)
As a species, we are taught from a very early age to embrace success and to avoid failure. That failing at something somehow makes you “less than.”
The good news is, when it comes to building a business, nothing could be further from the truth. The growth that makes long-term, sustained success a possibility for most businesses often comes about ONLY as a result of failure.
So, let’s take a minute and talk about why your relationship to failure is one of the primary deciding factors in your future success.
Risk Aversion Leads to Imbalance
To understand why failure is important, we first need to talk about risk.
Every aspect of both life and business has some element of risk to it. The things you try and the decisions you make could either work… or they could NOT work. Risk is always present.
In fact, the only thing that is zero risk is death. The minute you die, you’ve successfully eliminated all risk from your life. Congrats.
However, as we mentioned, we are all programmed to detest failure from an early age. Nobody likes to lose – and, the more we win, the less we like losing.
This creates what we call the “Asymmetry of Success.” As you experience success or growth in your business, the risk behind each decision becomes greater – the weight of each potential failure is heavier. The harder you work to avoid those failures, the weightier they become.
Eventually, you find yourself AVOIDING potentially massive upside within your company, just because the weight attached to the chance of failing feels unbearable.
If you’re not careful, this is where your business starts to stagnate.
Anti-Fragility vs. Comfort
How do we eliminate the imbalance that comes from risk aversion?
The answer lies in becoming “antifragile.”
What does this mean?
Antifragility is a property of systems in which they increase in capability to thrive as a result of stressors, shocks, volatility, noise, mistakes, faults, attacks, or failures.
Did you catch that? They “thrive” as a result of mistakes, faults, or failures.
Meaning that, to become antrifragile is to disavow “comfortability” and to embrace accelerated failure – growing at each stage as a result of the lessons gleaned.
Here’s a fun word to add to your vocabulary:
Mithridatism – the practice of protecting oneself against a poison by gradually self-administering non-lethal amounts
This is the idea at the very core of building an antifragile business. Allowing room for enough failure, and enough pain from “losing,” that you slowly inoculate yourself from the effects of it over time.
One of the easiest ways to start building an antifragile business is through the artificial injection of what we call “micro failures.”
These are small, non-destructive, tests – for which we have no existing data, and for which we do not (at all) know what the outcome will be. They could pop off and succeed, they could fail miserably – but, in either case, the results are not weighted so heavily that they could destroy the entire business.
- Soft launching a new course, book or product to your warm list before taking it to cold traffic
- Testing new advertising copy on a finite testing budget (enough to get data, but not so much that it derails your marketing objectives) just to see if it flops or gains traction
- Split testing your sales script on different calls to see what kind of responses the changes generate
- Trying a new onboarding sequence or system with a small handful of clients (but not ALL of them)
At it’s core, this is nothing more than basic optimization principles being put into practice. Test small, test fast = fail small, fail fast.
Caveat – this approach ONLY works if you actually track, gather, and study the data you get from these tests.
Whether they succeed or fail, the key is in understanding WHY… something that can only be extracted by a keen observation of the data.
You’ve probably heard us say things like this before, but if you’re not analyzing the data from your tests, why even bother measuring them at all?
How You Handle the Valleys
Before we close this out, let’s talk about a practical way to not only accept failure as necessary for success, but EMBRACE it.
It’s stupid simple, but hugely impactful.
Establish a version of your future self that has already accomplished what you’re trying to accomplish. Then, commit to doing whatever it takes to catch up to that version.
When you do this, you condition your brain to do two things:
- Treat any setbacks and regression as temporary
- Treat all future success as an inevitability
It will amaze you how much of the pain and weight of any failure you can withstand, when you are committed to a future version of yourself that has already succeeded.
Suddenly, you’re no longer concerned with comparing the current version of yourself to the competition, because you realize that your only REAL competition is another version of YOU.
For more in-depth reading on this, pick up “PsychoCybernetics” by Maxwell Maltz (specifically the sections where he discusses the Theater of the Mind).
Learn More About Bulletproofing Your Business
The ideas in the article above were pulled from a session that Taylor gave to a room of private clients in London called “Bulletproof Business Principles.” You get the entire two-part video training as a free bonus when you purchase Taylor’s book for $7.95!