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INDUSTRIOUS FAILURE

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BEHIND THE MIKE, By:  Michael Aun  http://www.aunline.com

My twin grandsons, Yogi and Spike coincidentally learned to walk right before my eyes when they were doing their Sunday assault on our house some time back.

Yogi (Cameron) is definitely the alpha male of the pair, soon to be two years old later this summer.  He is also the party animal where Spike (Keenan) is content to visit me in my man cave and sit in the corner and play quietly with a random toy of a Tupperware lid.

Little ones learn to walk by pulling themselves up and taking a step, usually in the direction of something they want very badly.  Cameron usually just stood alone, never stepping.  And one day, he grabbed my index fingers to stroll for his first step, turning loose moments later and he was off and running.

After that first victory, it was game over.   Now they both run like crazies through our house when they visit, knowing full well they have the liberty to do almost anything.

You cannot help but feel fascinated by the progress these tiny guys make each week.  Our own twin sons, Cory and Jason (Spike and Yogi’s uncles), seemed to progress more slowly, but then we were witness to their progress daily.

It occurs to me that this is, in fact, their first exposure to the concept of goal setting.  Yes, they knew to cry when they were hungry or sick, but overcoming an obstacle such as taking a first step was their first real accomplishment of a goal.

Speaking, communicating, reading, counting, feeding themselves and other personal achievements ensue and then the whole game moves to fast forward, learning so much so quickly that it is difficult to keep up.  Soon they will be tying their shoes and dressing themselves.

Every new activity that Yogi and Spike learn creates a new challenge.  That is the way it is with adults too?  We learn by doing every activity.  My guess is failure, not success, is the better teacher.  We learn from our mistakes.

Following the inquisitive mind of a child can be a great training lesson for adults.  Like children, we make mistakes.  Not only is that good but it is actually necessary!  Failure is the process by which we succeed.

I have shared the platform numerous times with management guru and speaking colleague Tom Peters, CPAE Speaker Hall of Fame®.  We both worked closely with Milliken and Company, the big textile firm based in Spartanburg, SC.   The company has been around since 1865.

Milliken offered employees a POE program (Pursuit Of Excellence).  Roger Milliken required 40 hours on continuing education each year from every single employee… just to keep their jobs!

At one of the POE meetings, I made the comment that failure defines success.  Tom followed me on the platform that day and actually took my observation a step further.

He said “If failure is the process by which we succeed in life, it should follow that in order to have more success we need to have more failure.  We have to teach people to fail faster and reward, not penalize temporary defeat.”

Yogi and Spike teach me that every time I am in their presence.  They have defined the difference between industrious failure and non-productive success.  When my grandsons do not achieve an objective, they learn from the defeat by trying it differently the next time.

Non-productive success occurs when you achieve your objective… but you are not quite sure what you did right.  One thing is for sure with these little tykes… the more action they take the more industrious failures they will experience… and the more they will learn.

The only true definition of failure lay in the thought of never trying and thus never experiencing the delight of victory or the devastation of defeat.  For Spike and Yogi that will never happen.

Thomas Edison, by his own account, experienced 1,100 industrious failures before he found the right filament for his incandescent lamp.

Are you failing industriously?

“Behind The Mike” has appeared in various print and electronic publications for the past four decades.  Michael Aun, CSP®, CPAE Speaker Hall of Fame® is a speaker and author of ten books.