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DR. MARC'S BLOG

Archive for March, 2011


Perspective On Failure

March 31, 2011
 

If you want to sell a book, just tell people exactly what they want to hear. Want to sell a self-help book? Just tell people that it’s okay to love the person inside…that it’s okay to accept yourself as a size 28…that it’s okay to accept your shortcomings.

Want to sell a personal achievement book? Just tell people that it’s okay to fail. In fact, if you tell people that it’s okay to fail two, three, or even ten times, then you are sure to have a best-seller. Congratulations!

Want to create a book that sells
maybe, oh, 100 copies? Great.

Just tell people the truth.

Most people, no matter who they are, no matter how many diplomas on their wall, want to know that it’s okay to fail. Why? Because they have probably failed more than one time. By telling them it’s okay, you are telling them that failure is normal – that it’s expected – that it’s OKAY.

In fact, if you tell people exactly what they want to hear, and you tell them that everything that they’ve done wrong is just part of “the process,” then you are sure to be received as (1) an optimist, and (2) as their new BFF (best friend forever).

Want to lose friends?

Just tell people the truth.

There is no quicker route to losing friends than telling the truth. Fortunately, my “inner circle” is made up of friends who want the truth delivered like a full-throttle punch to the face. And by the way, so that there’s no confusion, when I use the term “the truth,” I am referring to the ACTUAL truth…not just my truth.

Anyone who has attended one of my personal growth seminars will tell you that I am not a big fan of failure.Perhaps that’s because there’s something VERY wrong with me. Okay, so there are a lot of things wrong with me, but that’s a story for another time. From my observations, failure takes its toll on money, time, and self-esteem. AND…to suggest that it makes you better, stronger, or more successful, well, just isn’t true MOST OF THE TIME. The cases in which it is true, are the cases that you read about. Thus, the “exceptions” become the commandments, and “the rule” becomes pessimism.

For example, we’ve all heard, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” Really? What if the idea sucks? Why would you keep trying to make a lousy idea work? That would be…STUPID! Would you continue to attempt to hammer in a tail with a feather? The expression should really be, “If at first you don’t succeed, find out how you f__ked up, fix it, and THEN try, try again!”

And herein lies the mistakes that are never discussed by folks who are paid the big bucks to speak at big gigs. If you walk into a gun fight with a knife, then maybe – just maybe, you shouldn’t go home, come back, and try again…with a knife (even if it’s bigger). Maybe it was STUPID to walk into a gun fight with a knife. Yes, I know – I’m not making sense to most folks out there. But hopefully a few of you are getting this.

I get paid very decent money to speak to audiences that have brains. Sadly, that’s not most audiences. The reason that is the case is simple; truth doesn’t sell. And that’s just perfect to me. I don’t mind being in the minority, if being in the minority means that I can sleep at night. The folks who tell audiences, “You can do it!” and “If at first you don’t succeed….,” sleep at night knowing that what they are saying isn’t true. They’re just hoping for an “exception” – a person in the audience who will come up on stage or write a testimonial that will illustrate how determination and persistence paid off. Maybe YOU will be the “exception” – and then again, maybe not.

For every so many hundreds of thousands of start-ups, comes along a Groupon or some other company that knocks it out of the park. And yet, if you are one of the hundreds of thousands who doesn’t make it (even though you came close), no one will ever write a book about you or your efforts. Was your idea any less viable than those that made it big? I doubt it. Your idea might have been a thousand times better. Or maybe it sucked. But who would tell you?

The problem is that all you hear is, “Just keep at it!” No one ever says, “You know what Joe; you’re a good guy with a great head on your shoulders. That idea is not likely to produce any fruit. And I’m not saying that to be pessimistic. No, no, no. I am saying that for these five reasons….”

For example, there are LOTS of food delivery services out there, but none like FreshDirect.com (NYC). They have got a system that kicks ass. If you compare them to a couple of food delivery services here in Chicago (most of which aren’t blowing down anyone’s doors), you’ll see what I mean. If the folks who started the delivery services here in Chicago had listened to me (instead of telling me that I was just being “a downer”), they would be doing as well as FreshDirect.com.

SOMETIMES…it’s better to take alternate measures than it is to fail. The lessons that are there at failure, are also there at pre-failure. So why the hell would you go all the way to FAILURE? It’s like a lot of the folks who purchased McMansions that eventually fell “victim” to the foreclosure debacle that hit the housing market. They purchased more house than they could afford. A smart person looking from the outside in could see that from day one. We didn’t need to see the actual foreclosure mess to know that it was a likely possibility, right? RIGHT!

There are gurus out there who have written tons of books with tons of great ideas, who will tell you that I am not a forward thinker (because I am not blindly optimistic). I would argue the opposite. I am the MOST optimistic person that you will ever meet…given that your forward propulsion is based on a strategy, not just “a dream.”

Have A GREAT Day!

…Dr. Marc & The Mind Virus Team