50 Rules of Success: Succeed By ‘Failing Forward’ Fast!

What follows is the continuation of success habits that will become part of a book I’m writing, “50 Rules of Success”.

A lot of people never achieve a significant level of success in their lives because they are afraid of failing. They don’t go out for the cheerleading squad or football team; they don’t go for that promotion; they don’t ask the girl for a date. It’s critical to understand that failure and success are two sides of the same coin. Most success is achieved through a series of what I call ‘learnings’…or what others refer to as failures. Think of success as a journey through the woods where there are several paths that lead to success but also numerous paths that are dead ends. Most paths to success do have a map…following the path that others have taken before you. But this map is imperfect and most likely you will find yourself, occasionally, at a dead end. Should you give up or should you see if you retrace your steps enough to figure out where you went wrong and set out on an alternative path that you believe will successfully lead you to your destination?

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.” – Michael Jordan

When I decided to start my own company, a fee-only financial advisory firm, there were very few pioneers whose path I could follow. I wrote down a rough business plan and started my new company in January of 1984. I charged hourly fees for financial planning advice and I both undervalued my time and under estimated the amount of time it would take to do a financial plan. I ended my first year with $64,000 of income and $64,000 of expenses. In other words, I had worked a whole year for nothing! From that experience I learned that if you’re going to fail, fail fast! This is what I sometimes refer to as ‘correct and continue’. If you find something is not working, do something else, fast! I changed my business plan including eventually adding investment management services and my business began to steadily grow. From those humble beginnings my firm grew to where, today, we manage over $1 billion for clients throughout the Unites States.

Follow this process:

  1. Get very clear on exactly what it is that you want to accomplish (the goal).
  2. Develop a written path (strategy) for getting there…knowing that you might not know every step in the journey.
  3. Get going…get into action by starting on the path you’ve outlined.
  4. Be prepared to ‘correct and continue’…expect that you’ll hit a few dead ends along the way. Don’t be discouraged. Learn what you need to learn from the error, regroup and get back into action.

Never quit until you reach your destination.