In order to succeed you must fail, so that you know what not to do the next time. Anthony J. D’Angelo.
Let’s say you’re trying to learn the Argentinian tango or trying to get your book published.
Imagine trying to become a world-famous Chef like Julia Childs. Or even Julie Powell for that matter, who spent everyday of a full year cooking up one of Julia Childs’s recipes.
Or pretend you’re on the run from the authorities and need to spend a few months in the Central Americas, let’s say Nicaragua for now, and are trying to learn Spanish.
How do you do something you’ve never done before and excel?
How do you get good at something? What’s the language for success?
As you know, I’m in the spiritually buzzing city of Granada, Nicaragua, learning Spanish. I took 4 years of high school Spanish but like my French, oh, I’ve never learnt or spoken a word of French in my life!), my Spanish had become rusty. When I snuck into Nicaragua this past month, however, I’ve only spoken Spanish at home, at school, church, and to people on the street.
In fact, here I am with the Spanish school director (who refuses to publicly acknowledge I’m a student of the school):
The student who wouldn’t speak Spanish.
At Spanish school, I met a fellow-student who had visited Nicaragua several times now but she still didn’t speak Spanish much. She’s understood everything people were saying to her but usually did not respond. I probed her a little bit trying to inquire why she didn’t want to speak the language.
She said that she didn’t want to look bad by speaking it wrong. She wanted to speak it perfectly, so would continue to think about each word and sentence and perfect conjugation before saying what she wanted to say.
I, on the other hand, was told by my Spanish teacher on the first day of class that I speak Spanish like a ‘directionless bird’ – without any reference to tenses, time or proper conjugation. I’m not trying to brag in any way here about my bird-like ability to speak Spanish but I have and continue to reach a level of proficiency that I can get my basic point across (no matter how bad it comes out) and carry on a conversation.
That’s when I realized the successful ingredient to speaking Spanish or being successful in anything in life.
1. The language to success is learnt by failure.
Instead of hiding from the language or something new, the best way to master it is to attack it. You have to jump in there and get your hands dirty (if cooking), your feet dirty (if playing soccer) or your mouth dirty when speaking Spanish (You know what I mean!).
You must persist in pursuing a new skill or habit you desire to master, and be prepared to do it wrongly, incorrectly and so bad that you’ll be laughed at!
2. Cuddle with AND embrace failure. And no I’m not suggesting you go to bed with that loser ex of yours:) Not only is it a good idea to fail and fail often but also FAIL BIG. Because the more you fail, the more you’re learning. Most people don’t like the idea of failing because they look bad or feel embarrassed. But the flip side of never failing is never learning and never growing.
If you’re trying to learn a new course, a new language, mastering becoming a ninja, trying to become a yoga instructor, then go out and fail. It’s the same way when we were learning to ride a bike or mastered our handwriting as kids. We didn’t just come out on the first time and excel at it. We continued to mess up, look bad, feel horrible, had our parents yell at our incompetence before we figured it out and mastered it.
3. Treat your failures as your building blocks to success. When you do fail and do fail big, treat those failures as the vault of your future success.
People think the more you fail, the more of a loser you are. What if instead, the more you fail means that the more you know how not to fail in the future. And if you fail a lot now then you can’t help but being successful at the skill you desire to master, the habit you desire to have or the business you desire to build.
So, I’m not going to tell you to go out and pursue success. No, my friend, I’ve learnt that the language to success is failing big and often. Falling flat on your face is a good thing.
My Spanish teachers hate me and are trying to ban me from coming back to the school because I speak the language horribly but I’m speaking it everyday, conversing with people and getting better.
The other day, I told the woman who tried to sell me a wallet that I wanted a $10 cordoba ($.50 US) discount because I didn’t want a plastic bag for the wallet. No, she didn’t give me a discount and no I didn’t buy the wallet but we both conversed without the dialogue turning too violent or her ripping me off.
Go on now – go FAIL at something. Keep failing your way to success.
Do you agree about failing being the recipe for success? Do you love to fail or do you embrace failing like a shark in an aquarium?
P.S. Can you do me a favor and share this article with the patrons at the pub you’re reading this post at? Or via social media, if easier. Cheers!