Incompetence Comes First

failure_attitudeWhat is your attitude to failure?

I fear that our school days did not equip us with a healthy respect for failure and its role in the pursuit of success.

At school we learned that getting things wrong is bad. We were taught to commit seemingly endless facts to memory for regurgitation at exam time. Then we were either right or wrong. Wrong was bad. It could see you repeat a year if you were wrong often enough.

The real world is different, or it should be.

To master anything, you will probably do it poorly before you ever do it well.

Are you willing to risk failure? If you aren’t, you are going to find it hard to succeed at anything worthwhile.

We must be willing to be incompetent if we ever hope to be competent.

To fail means to risk embarrassment, to feel stupid, to get annoyed with ourselves – not positive emotions, granted – but we must also seek out the lesson contained in the failure:

  • What did we do right?
  • What could we have done better?
  • How can we do it better?
  • Do we need to seek help?

If we asked these questions every time we failed at something, took positive steps to learn from our mistakes, and persisted, then mastery is only a matter of time.

Salespeople who fear failure will avoid putting themselves in a position where they can fail, and so deny themselves an opportunity to learn and grow.

These people pay the ultimate price: regret. They look back at what they could have accomplished if only they had risked failure – If only I had… is a sad situation to be in towards the end of your life.

I’m not going to say you can do anything you put your mind to. You can’t. Neither can I. But there are many things we can learn to do well, rewarding and fulfilling things, if only we will risk being incompetent in the beginning.

Success awaits those who risk failure, who persist, and who learn along the way.

 

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