The Weekly Buzz: Failure Is an Option
Learning from failure and persevering are essential to the founding philosophy of the Phoenix Sales Method. Lots of team members had favorite quotes, videos, and thoughts to share when we got talking about failure this week.
If at First You Don’t Succeed
To quote the song “Try Again,” by Aaliyah: “Brush yourself off and try again.” The song featured in a martial arts movie, Romeo Must Die, starring Aaliyah and Jet Li. Fans of martial arts movies know that their spectacular fight choreography is the culmination of a grueling set of practice workouts involving frequent failure. Jackie Chan, the grandmaster of martial arts comedy, is known for owning his failures by including ouch-inducing outtakes at the end of every film.
Will shared a story about two approaches to learning to sculpt: quantity vs. quality. Students who were assessed on their best piece of pottery produced worse quality than students who were assessed on how many pots they could produce. The power of iteration and learning from failure meant the students who were focused on volume of practice had the best results. This is the idea underlining Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers—and any theory of “practice makes perfect.” And it’s the beautiful twist to this spot featuring Michael Jordan.
Of course, practice doesn’t need to make perfect to get a good result. Sometimes, it’s important to realize that something isn’t working and end a project or switch jobs. A Google division devoted to ambitious “moonshot” projects encourages employees to be strategic about embracing failure by rewarding researchers who realize their project isn’t going to succeed. Salespeople can adopt a similar strategy by weeding out poorly qualified leads and focusing on deals that have the best chance of success. You can’t win ‘em all—especially if your energy is so unfocused.