MARKETING

How to Make Failure Impossible

No one likes failing. Use these four steps to make sure you're always a winner.
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Today I'm going to explain something so simple, and yet so useful, that it's amazing that so many people don't get it.

It's a four-step process that literally makes failure an impossibility.  Pay particular attention to the final step, because it's the proverbial "doozy."

Here we go:

1. Set an achievable yet inspirational goal.

If you don't believe a goal is achievable, you won't take action to achieve it.  Therefore, any goal that you set must be within the realm of possibility and tied to actions that you can actually take.

A goal must also be inspirational enough to motivate you to take action. For example, "I will lose 10 pounds" is achievable but not particularly inspirational and thus not very motivating. "I will look and feel healthy, fit and sexy" is both achievable and motivating.

2. Decide that you must achieve the goal. 

Never start out by saying, "I'll try."

You might as well not bother–because you're going to fail anyway. The reason people say "I'll try" (rather than "I must") is that they're giving themselves permission to fail, which means that they really aren't committed.

It's only through being 100% committed to achieving a goal that you'll find the mental and emotional resources to follow the next three steps.

3. Treat setbacks as signals.

A setback is something that blocks you from achieving a goal. Most people treat setbacks as "mini-failures," and often use them as an excuse to give up ... and therefore fail.

The correct way to view a setback is as a signal that you may need to change your approach to achieve the goal. If an action consistently results in a setback, you must therefore take a different action, repeating the change as necessary.

4. Define 'failure' as 'failing to take action.'

Chances are, if you follow the first three steps, you'll achieve your goal–if not immediately, then eventually.

However, the simple truth is that you don't have control over anything except your own behavior.  Redefining failure as "failing to take action" puts failure (and therefore success) within your personal control.  When the only failure is inactivity, you automatically take the actions required to achieve the goal.

Is it really that simple? Very much so.  Follow these four steps and, as long as you remain alive and kicking, you'll keep taking action–and thereby make failure impossible.

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Last updated: Jun 4, 2012

GEOFFREY JAMES | Columnist

Geoffrey James was recently named a "Top 40 Social Selling Marketing Master" by Forbes, and his blog has won awards from the Society of American Business Editors and the American Society of Business Publication Editors. His writing has appeared in publications as diverse as Wired, Brandweek, and Men's Health, and he is the author of numerous books, including The Tao of Programming, Business Wisdom of the Electronic Elite, and, most recently, Business Without the Bullsh*t: 49 Secrets and Shortcuts You Need to Know.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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