Controlled Failure

As I mention here, we should be failing on a regular basis. I want to fail. To not fail usually means I’m not pushing hard enough. Not trying new things. And there are vital lessons that we learn when we fail, and that can only be learned through failure.

The road to success is paved with past failures. Success doesn’t happen “all of a sudden”.

So I want to experience failure. But, I want to do it on my own terms. On small-scale endeavors, where the risk is low and controlled.

This is a fringe benefit of the microcosm approach to accomplishment, explained here. First, you deconstruct a larger goal, vision, or objective into smaller components. Then create microcosms for yourself to recreate those components in smaller, more manageable endeavors. By doing this, when you fail (and you occasionally will, or should if they’re challenging enough), you ensure that the failures happen on your terms. When it doesn’t matter as much, or when there’s less risk.

By taking this approach to controlled failure, you gain several benefits. The first, of course is that by failing on the small stuff, and learning your lessons, you’re less likely to fail on the big stuff, when it really matters.

The second, is that you learn how to cope with failure. You learn to see it for what it is, a means to an end. Failure is put in perspective, as part of the path to growth, as opposed to something personal. It’s not an indication that you’re worthless, that you’re no good, that you’re doomed and should just give up. It’s an indication that you’re fighting a good fight, that you’re challenging yourself, and that you still have work to do.

In a way you become desensitized to failure. By intentionally making it a more frequent component of your life (in the manner of your choosing), you become more objective about it. You’re better able to separate yourself from the equation, and approach it more analytically. You’ll learn more from it, because you’ll have the benefit of both frequency and objectivity.

By making controlled failure a more common component of your life, you’re less prone to negatively react to larger failures that you’ll inevitably encounter. You’ll be more apt to respond positively, retain your optimism, and have the faith and self confidence to persevere.

Whereas if who avoid failure by avoiding circumstances where you may fail, sure you’ll experience failure less frequently, but that only makes it all the more severe and emotionally destructive when you do.

So don’t fear failure. Don’t shy away from it. Embrace it, but do it on your terms, using the microcosm approach to accomplishment.


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Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] Pilots will spend hours in a simulator before ever taking a plane off the ground.  I’ve written a lot more on the power of simulation and visualization here. […]

  2. […] growth and development (see this post). We can even train our selves through failure conditioning (this post), so when we fail, we do so on our terms. We can acclimate ourselves to faults and failures so that […]

  3. […] more fully here (The power of microcosms, Microcosms make you stronger, and Controlled failure, how to fail on your terms), the idea of a microcosm is simple. It’s a smaller-scale representation of something […]

  4. […] The power of microcosms (see also Microcosms make you stronger | Controlled failure – how to fail on your terms) […]

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