The anatomy of creative failure and how to avoid it… turn the impossible into the inevitable

We are the five people we hang out with.

The key to success in life is setting high standards and then taking action in accordance with those high standards. What makes it hard to do this is that we become the people we are closest to, and they may not share our goals or dreams, and most of all, our high standards.

This is especially true when it comes to family. I am lucky in that my family has always championed me and believed in my possibilities. But not everyone is so lucky.

The worst thing about this process is that it is a slow erosion, often beginning with peers getting ‘real jobs’, becoming enslaved to debt and societies broad agreement about success (which is at best mediocrity).

Often we don’t see this process happening, it just manifests in a general frustration and feeling that what once seemed inevitable, now feels impossible.

Some call this process ‘experience’, learning that you get your hand burned if you put it in the fire.

Experience can inform what actions should be taken minute by minute, and that has real value.

But experience should rarely be used to inform the big goals – asking out a girl, trying to win an Oscar, making a feature film, publishing a book, running an international festival. These are all things I have experience in failing at.

I use that experience now to inform the small tasks on the journey, but never to inform the big direction.

Failure means change approach but don’t change the goal.

For me, failure is an essential step on the path to success.

For others, failure equals pain and humiliation to never EVER be repeated. To them failure equals fear. Their leads them to their own acceptance of mediocrity and the erosion of their own big goals that once seemed to inevitable.

The problem is what if they are your peers or family?  What if they are the five people you hang out with?

So what to do?

  1. Stay away from negative influences. That’s not to say that valuable lessons cannot be learned from negative experience, but negative people will drag you down to their level. They will lower your standards. They will do this out of love and genuine concern because they don’t want you to get hurt like they did. With compassion, stay as far away form these people as you can – again not always easy with family. Remember, your environment is everything.
  2. Learn your lessons and don’t repeat the same mistake. BUT… get back on the horse and recommit to the journey… just modify your approach. Change your tactics but not the strategy. If the strategy is to climb the mountain and you failed with the tactic of approaching from the south, try the north as a new tactic instead. The lesson is NOT that the strategy of climbing the mountain is flawed, just he tactic did not work this time.
  3. Surround yourself with exceptional peers who will demand more than you can possibly deliver. Mysteriously, your standards will raise and the impossible will once again start to feel like the inevitable.
  4. Celebrate success. Both your own success and those of others. Nothing makes the impossible feel like the inevitable more that the catharsis of celebration. Think of those sporting events that moved you off the sofa to jumping up and down, the times you heard of true courage and wept, the moments you saw joy and freedom in others that inspired. Celebrating success in others is access to your own inevitable possibilities. Get yourself some euphoric music, your own personal anthem if you like, and play it every time you celebrate – and dance like a crazy person! Do this daily, even for the small things. In this moment you are rewiring your brain to expect success. This music can be used as a trigger in the future for when you need it most. It’s YOUR anthem for success.
  5. Set unachievable goals based on what you want and not on what you have learned is not possible. Then take massive action in accordance with those goals, surrounded by high acheiver peers, changing tactics with each failure, recommitting to the impossible goal… until one day, you realise that the impossible has become the inevitable.

The bottom line is this, the word impossible is an oxymoron.

It simply means that from a particular viewpoint, something appears unachievable. Change your viewpoint.

History is littered with stories of humans achieving the impossible. It’s actually commonplace if you take the time and humility to look around you right now.

But some people have a love affair with the word impossible as it reinforces their world view that ‘it’s not my fault… it’s just impossible’.

Nothing is impossible.

I dare you to prove it. Not to me.

Prove to everyone what you already know in your heart. You CAN do it. And you WILL do it. It is in fact, INEVITABLE.

Onwards and upwards!

Chris Jones
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