Posts tagged ‘Adam Grant’

August 7, 2017

How to succeed: Fail copiously and spectacularly

Looking for the key to success? Apparently the secret is to rack up several previous failures, the more numerous and spectacular the better! I came across the following research summary in the book Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience and Finding Joy by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant. The boldface and italic emphases in the text are my own.

A few years ago, two management researchers became curious about what factors predict when a space flight will succeed. Going back to the first launch of Sputnik I in 1957, they tracked every launch globally for nearly five decades across thirty organizations — mostly governments but also some private companies. You might think the best odds of a successful launch would come after past successes, but the data from more than four thousand launches showed the exact opposite. The more times a government or company had failed, the more likely they were to put a rocket into orbit successfully on the next try. Also, their chances of success increased after a rocket exploded compared to a smaller failure. Not only do we learn more from failure than from success, we learn more from bigger failures because we scrutinize them more closely. 

If you apply this same finding to your own life, what is the result? The more times you fail at something, the closer you get to actually achieving it. And those absolutely spectacular failures that threaten to destroy you? They’re actually your best helpers, because they teach you what you need to know for next time (and force you to learn the lessons).

The next time you fail at something, celebrate that moment as another step towards your future success. You’ve got this. 🙂