7 Ways For Leaders To Succeed Through Failure

Failure Treadmill

How we fail when everyone is trying to succeed determines whether we will achieve success through failure.

Failure may not be what we wake up every day hoping for, but as a coach to successful leaders I have noticed that those who surround themselves with and embrace failure are the ones more likely to succeed.

Here are 7 behaviours you can use to punch through failure:

1. Fail Fast, Succeed Slow: Don’t be afraid to experiment. Most successful business leaders failed multiple time before they had a success.

“Failure is part of the process of success. People who avoid failure also avoid success.” – Robert Kiyosaki

2. Succeed And Then Fail: A big success can hold you a high bar of what success is. This can make you less open to failure Put your ego aside, lower your benchmark and be prepared to fail before your next success. You will then be able to iterate more, with less pressure should you fail.

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal.” – Winston Churchill

3. Get Into Failure Flow: Be failure mindful as failing without learning is a wasteful exercise. Be aware of what is happening as an initiative fails. In failure flow you will be receptive to seeing the elements that lead to failure as if in slow motion.

“The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.” – Henry Ford

4. Process Failure: Use a framework to analyse what happened after the fact. Who was responsible? What was the failure algorithm? Is it repeatable or preventable.? What data would make it preventable?

“You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone.” – Johnny Cash

5. Only Fail When You Cannot Succeed: Failure sucks. It sets you back. It impacts the lives of people who believed in and relied on you. Have grit and persistence and don’t choose failure as an easy way out when the going gets tough.

“Giving up is the only sure way to fail.” – Gena Showalter

6. Fail Resiliently: Get up, take the hit and move forward. When you fail, and I sincerely hope you will, how do you treat it? Every failure is one step close to success. How you deal with each failure, big or small, determines whether you will succeed.

“Failure are finger posts on the road to achievement.” – C.S. Lewis

7. Feeling like a failure is not failing: Many successful people feel like failures. Decouple your feelings from external perceptions of success or failure. Seek alignment with what success looks like to you, don’t rely on outside assurances. Reconnect with your feelings and drop the narrative you want to create for them.

“What is the point of being alive if you don’t at least try to do something remarkable?” – John Green


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6 Hacks for Gaining High Achiever & Elite Performer Status

StepUpThe media loves to trumpet overnight success, but there is always a back story of blood, sweat and tears. The journey from amateur to professional and the path to elite performer can be daunting. How can you ensure you succeed in your quest for success? We provide six hacks you can use to gain elite performer status and become a high achiever.

1. Set a guiding principle and just start

As daunting as your quest may seem, you need to take the first step or you will never get closer to your destination. You may not have mapped out the entire journey. You may not know exactly where your quest is taking you.

But just start.

Take one small step forward, and then another.

Before you know it, you will have established something unique that the world has never seen.

As you start on your quest, ask yourself a transformational question. This will become your guiding principle.

It will kick start your passion and give you the impetus to take that first step.

For Odysseus the question was, ‘where is true home?’

     What is your transformational question?

2. Aim for regular milestones, achievable annually

There are no overnight successes. Nor will the answers to your transformational question just arrive out of the blue. It will take hard work, long hours and persistence.

Your focus is on answering that big question, on achieving your goal. Yet many things can intervene and sway you off course. To ensure you remain in pursuit of your goal set some smaller milestones you can achieve each year.

Every year you want there to be two to three things you feel you’ve made progress in. This prevents you from getting stuck. Some years will be better than others. By constantly moving yourself forward you will smooth out the years. You will come to view yourself as a success. This will give you the motivation to continue on your quest.

Doing this year in, year out will lead to some big wins. That’s when you will be referred to as an overnight success. At that point smile and nod, knowing that it was the little things, the small milestones that got you there.

     What is your first milestone?

3. Understand the levels of competence and timing in your industry

Each industry sets expectations of how long it takes to become an elite performer. Form an understanding of what these time lines are.

In most professions or crafts there are three levels of competence: beginner, intermediate and advanced.

What can you expect to achieve in each of these phases?

Beginner – you will be parroting the insights of your influencers. Success in this phase is being able to produce a body of work that isn’t an embarrassment.

Intermediate – you will have a clearer idea of what you are doing. You may feel you’ve changed direction and wasted time. But you are always building on your experience and adding to your skill set.

Advanced – your unique voice will emerge in this phase and you will produce work that has not been seen before.

     Are you prepared for the long haul?

4. Step up from performer to elite performer

Stepping up to the ranks of elite performer requires a psychological shift. This needs to be a threefold shift in you:

1. You need to come across as being relaxed. You don’t have to prove yourself anymore and you don’t want to come across as trying too hard.

2. You need to be deliberate with the things you are saying and doing.

3. You need to belong. You need to be within a space that you own. You need to feel that you are entitled to be there.

You also need to catalyse a psychological shift amongst those you engage with. They need to see that you’re not just trying things out, but you have a reason to be there. They will then take you more seriously.

At this point you’ve achieved a foundational shift. But to truly step up you need to be developing your own material. You need to come up with your own compelling thinking. You may still rely on your old influencers, but you need to be exploring new territory.

Find your authentic and unique voice. Think of yourself as a force.

     Do you aspire to be a great master, to hold the universe in your palm?

5. Avoid the ruts, never feel secure

This is a long-haul. There is a possibility that you don’t push yourself enough. If this happens you will dig a deeper and deeper rut over time. You’ll need to create a breaking point and find your raw groove again.

Keep revisiting your transformational question. Check that you remain in hot pursuit of the answer. You should not feel 100% secure. If you are not somewhat scared, you will become complacent. Your inspiration will wane.

     Is the fear always there?

6. Lift your game and focus

“Nothing contributes so much to tranquillising the mind as a steady purpose – a point on which the soul may fix its intellectual eye.” – Mary Shelley

This quote sums up the point that if you want to operate at a higher level, you need to lift your game and bring focus.

There are three ways you can do this:

1. Whittle away the things that you don’t need.

2. Create a solid core of who you are both as a person and as an elite performer.

3. Become aware of your compulsions and the rabbit holes that you could scurry down. Initially you may meet these urges. You will need to leave them behind to elevate yourself to the next level.

     What do you fundamentally believe, as a person, is important?

About EXOscalr

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Micrsoft/Yahoo Deal Theme Song: It Ain’t Over Till Its Over

The blogosphere has been abuzz since Microsoft indicated it was walking away from its offer to acquire Yahoo. But as many of us know a deal like this ain’t over till its over – anything can happen, and indications from Ballmer behavioralists is that anything probably will happen.

Taking a read through Michael Arrington’s comments on his colleague, Erick Schonfeld’s blog post speculating on the departure of Steve Ballmer we find:

Wow, Erick. Your poll options remind me of the “so when did you stop beating your wife” jokes. In yesterday’s Gillmor Gang we talked about what, if anything, Microsoft did wrong in the negotiations. Overall it seems they were handled as well as could be expected right from the beginning.

and later,

I mean, seriously, how about “He’s played this perfectly from start to finish”

and it isn’t over yet.

One thing the team at TechCrunch hopefully can agree on, and which they’ve got right is that Yahoo will be having an interesting Monday.

The best comment so far though has to be this parody:

Do You Have a Facebook Strategy?


Used to be a time, not that long ago (pre May 25th – the launch date of the Facebook platform), when the most frequently asked question in VC pitch meetings was, “What’s your China strategy?”

Today, topping the faqs has to be, “What’s your Facebook strategy?”

For CxOs who have not yet cottoned on to the viral coefficient and engagement aspects of Facebook, here are a few metrics worth digesting:

* in the first 20 weeks 366 million applications were installed from the Facebook platform.

* this growth is continuing unabated and is set to track past 1 billion in the first year.

* in August – there were 14 million unique app users (this equated to 33% of all Facebook members)

* in August – there were 88 million app visits

* in August – average dwell time per visit was 4:30 minutes.

Asking whether a company has a Facebook strategy is also shorthand for asking whether its executives have embraced the open architecture model. Facebook is the tip of the iceberg, with many more opportunities to leverage deeply engaged user communities on the horizon.

[Stats courtesy of Justin Smith of InsideFacebook @ Graphing Social Patterns, picture courtesy of BeFitt]


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Pladuct: the new web mantra

Fred Wilson makes some excellent points regarding the interchangeability of the terms product and platform.

Let me give my take on his three key points:

1. Products must focus on platform requirements – how will they integrate with platforms that are already out there (eg Facebook, Myspace, Youtube), will they be locked to a single platform or able to adapt to other platforms (untethered), will the data they generate exist within a platform black hole (eg posting a video on Facebook – not easy to move it off of Facebook), how well do they cater to the stage of development of target platforms (eg Facebook is currently about engagement but shifting towards deeper content, Myspace is about self expression).

2. Products are platforms – does your product have an API, can others build upon it in an adaptive, innovative manner, is the sum greater than the parts (Twitter + Twitteriffic + Twittervision).

3. Give more with your pladuct than you get – do your users get more than they give, do your users get more from you than they can get from a competitor.

The term “pladuct” in point 3 is not a  typo — think of it as the mash up of “platform” and “product” —  type PLADUCT in big, bold letters on your office/garage whiteboard/wall — as a constant reminder of the new web mantra.


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What’s your Asia Pacific strategy?


Pictures speak volumes. Does your business have an Asia Pacific strategy?

If so, great, accept one silver star. Next question: when last did you update it? Frontiers morph and shift at lightning pace – ask anyone who faced down a gunslinger in the old West….you gotta move fast or get out of the way.

[Diagrams extracted from Golin Harris’s Next 50 Years]



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