• Dr. Heather Nelson

“Every Winner Begins As A Loser”

How’s that for some Monday Motivation?


But it is actually true. Any teacher or parent will tell you that a child’s ultimate success is not dependent on whether they succeed the first time. Indeed, I have yet to meet anyone that was walking after their first attempt. Or anyone that understood and perfectly executed multiplication tables as soon as their teacher introduced them. And you’d better believe I’m not going to let a first time driver take me through downtown Kansas City during rush hour!


Research is showing us that failure is an essential part of success. In a recent article that was making the rounds a few weeks ago, researchers analyzed some interesting and somewhat unconventional data sets to see if they could predict success. And it turns out, they could! What was very interesting about their findings is that those who succeeded and those who failed had around the same number of tries. So it wasn’t just try, try again. Instead, it mattered how they tried again, and how soon. The more time between tries, the more likely they were to fail again. Likewise, the less time between tried the greater the chance for success.


In other words, fail faster.


Let’s dig into the idea for a minute that it matters how you try again. The research suggests, and I would agree, that it matters what happens right after you fail. Sure, there are times when failure can lead to feelings of sadness and whatnot, and I don’t want to minimize that at all. Depending on the type of failure, sometimes it’s completely appropriate to just feel the feelings that come along with that. However, it is incredibly valuable to also put on your objective thinking cap and analyze what went wrong and why, and then try again implementing changes based on what you found in your analysis. It’s not enough just to haphazardly try. The essential ingredient to eventual success is trying again in a smarter way. Now, lest I give you the impression that your next try will be guaranteed to be more successful, alas, I cannot promise that. But I can guarantee that you will gain valuable information in the process that will continually help you in your quest for success.


Fail forward.


Leon Thurman calls this “human compatible learning.”

The idea is that every new venture is a bullseye, and every attempt is shooting an arrow toward that bullseye. Unless one is incredibly lucky, chances are the arrows are going to hit all over the place the first few attempts. But as you keep shooting those arrows, and keep analyzing the results, the arrows will get closer and closer to the target, until eventually it is consistently near the bullseye. Those first attempts that are nowhere close are essential to the process, and unfortunately most of us will not be able to skip the process of shooting arrows all over the place for awhile. What matters is whether we stick with it long enough to gain consistency.


Singing is an opportunity to try, try again immediately, and then again. And when you add a teacher into the mix you get another person's perspective on how to try again in a smarter way. It's a great way to train yourself how to fail forward, and the skills and confidence you can gain from singing successfully can transfer into other areas of your life, too. Singing is a holistic learning activity!


Fail faster and fail forward.


So, that’s it. That’s the formula. Keep trying. Try again soon. Think through what you’re doing and try again smarter. And while we’re at it, let’s bust down that myth that perfection is the goal. It’s not. It’s consistency. Even consistent successes will be peppered with a few misses here and there. Keep shooting those arrows, fail faster, and fail forward. The science of success is showing you’re absolutely on the right track.

© 2020 by Dr. Heather R.Nelson. Proudly created with Wix.com

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