Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Success Considers Failure

“Leaders are visionaries with a poorly developed sense of fear and no concept of the odds against them.”
-Robert Jarvik

Entrepreneurs are risk takers.  Media coverage overwhelms us with expressions of success, stories of others being at the top of their game and climbing their proverbial mountains.  There is a mostly unspoken, although it is certainly spoken at times, ideology permeating our society and thirsty younger generation that in order to succeed you mustn’t consider failure.  This is what all the big shots say and it has this Disneyland sparkly nostalgia about it, but I’m not so sure it is healthy or even reality if considered further. 

The road to success is littered with risks, something we can all agree on.  What is risk though?  If something presents a risk then there is a larger chance of failure than succession or else it would not be a risk it would be almost guaranteed.  Those who succeed are frequently quoted or advising others that in order to succeed you need to not even consider failure or as Jarvik says must have no concept of the odds against them.  Retrospect or hindsight is always 20/20.  Clarity is easy to reflect upon after one has weathered the storm and come out the other side intact.  One cannot see the forest for the trees.  I love this idea and saying because it makes sense that when in the midst of anything it is impossible to step back and see the entire situation.  Now these great men and women, conquerors of perilous feats, give the advice of not considering failure or the odds against you, after they have survived and beaten the risks.  I don’t buy it though. 

Successful endeavors do not merely happen, luck is not a factor, and there is no universal karma that favors them.  If you don’t know by now, I am a basketball nut, I live and breathe it, so I’m going to naturally parallel this with basketball.  Some are born with innate abilities, they are freaks of nature and for some reason are faster, stronger, and jump higher than everyone else.  That is all well and good, but until that is harnessed and structured and planned around it is just raw talent and cannot be translated into a respectable game.  This is why older guys do not like playing with teenagers at any local gym.  Teenagers are full of wild athleticism and never ending energy, they are stronger faster and jump higher than their elders, however, because it is raw these less gifted elders are able to make them feel foolish as they win over and again.  My point here is that characteristics and personal gifts are much the same.  Many successful people who have made millions are not smarter than everyone they just plan better.  There are plenty of better products out there, but mediocre products sell better than their superior counterparts because they have a better plan most times.

One cannot plan without considering all angles.  To run in one direction with no forethought of anything to come is careless.  You cannot plan for success without considering risks, and remember risks are options that offer more failure than triumph.  To consider these risks is to look in the eye of failure or the chances of failing and planning for them accordingly.  As well-intended as these successful people are when they hand out this advice, it is advice they did not follow themselves.  The more realistic advice would be not allowing fear to impede process planning for failure and being determined enough and work hard enough to achieve set goals.  Do you have fears of failure?  Good, now plan for that option because every risk has the potential for failure, but trust in hard work and preparedness more so than fear and move on and conquer whatever it is you need to so we can meet at success one day together.  

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