Failure Sucks. Work smarter not harder.

We often discuss the inevitability and true necessity of failure as a foundation to greatness and innovation. And as painful as this reality can be, it does seem fairly intuitive when you think about it. If the answer you are seeking was really so valuable, don’t you suppose that it would already be in use? So if we can agree that failure is in many ways, directly and indirectly a precursor to growth, let’s turn back to another point we can likely agree on, failure sucks! Putting all of your heart into an endeavor to come up inches or miles short is tough to swallow even once, much less hundreds of times before your breakthrough. So instead of beating your head against the wall one more time hoping for a different outcome, let’s consider the old adage of “work smarter, not harder”.

Nowadays a lot is made of professional athletes using the latest technology and cross training to advance their core competencies. Even going so far as to take performance enhancing drugs to better their efforts. What if we were able to gain the wisdom from failures without experiencing the sting? We’ll call this PM cross-training.

What are you doing today to get better? Are you in the trenches bleeding, sweating, and straining your way to the top? Good for you. With a little luck and a lot of blood sweat and tears, hopefully you’ll get there someday. Or are you in the trenches part-time and cross-training the rest of the time. Is it an MBA? Are you studying for your PMP? Or are you simply reading (or watching this blog)?

If all you are doing today to get better is working hard, you are probably going about it the wrong way. Don’t get me wrong though, there is no magic “failure pill” out there for you to take. You are going to have to earn your stripes, but save yourself some lumps and get online. Get back in the classroom. Learn from your peers and mentors and watch your rate of improvement increase.

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One response to “Failure Sucks. Work smarter not harder.

  1. Hi Adam,

    Perhaps there’s still a middle ground to this somewhere 🙂 It’s certainly a good thing to work smart by learning from the failures of others, but there are also plenty of things in life that might have to involve failure of ourselves whether we wwish it or not. For instance, writing novels. It’s hard to tell who would publish your material and who would not. JK Rowling, Stephen King, Ben Fountain…all of these great authors had faced numerous rejections before hitting it big. Yep, failure stinks…but it might not be fully or even adequately avoidable LOL! Still, I agree – we gotta keep vigilant and observe others.

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