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Thursday, May 28, 2015

Fail Your Way to Success



Many successful individuals are so through prior failures. Indeed, had they failed to fail, success may not have occurred. I am where I am today because of my failures. I will, most probably, fail at what I'm doing today and move onto another success.

We sometimes live our lives in fear of failure. Sometimes it's healthier to move on, but moving on is complicated--we fail to fail. Failure may be unintentional or failure may be intentional. We call the latter-intentional failure-quitting. A lot have been written about "quitting your way to success."

So why do we fail to quit when it may be healthier and more successful to do so? Time equity, sweat equity, emotional equity, and, overall, sunk cost.

Is sunk cost an anchor or sail to your success?

Think about what it is that's really making you nervous about the next step.  I've put six years into this department, so I can't just leave. I've put 15 hour days into this project for months, so why quit now. These amazing people I work with depend on me, I can't abandon them.  I have roots in this community--a tough one, yes? Be on the lookout for my upcoming post, "Have Roots, Will Travel".

Now, to be clear, quitting your way to success is very different from "giving up". Giving up indicates lack of commitment, lack of diligence, lack of knowledge and/or skill, or lack of interest. Presumably, if you are in a quagmire because of sunk cost it is not because of a lack of these qualities. Indeed, you likely have these qualities in spades.

The correlate to quitting is making yourself dispensable. That's right, I said dispensable rather than indispensable. Many of us may go to work everyday with the intention of making ourselves indispensable. Instead, consider going to work to make yourself dispensable. In this context dispensable does not mean non-contributory. What's the difference? And more importantly, what's the consequence to success? I will write more about this in a future post.

Successful individuals are more likely to practice making themselves dispensable.

By Rajesh Harrykissoon, MD, CPE