By Olaoluwa Oladokun
READY, FIRE, AIM, FIRE #RFAF
The fail proof mechanism.
Most times, hearing what we already know in a different way helps us know what we didn’t know about what we know, making what we now know better than what we knew.
I know that sounded all too sagacious. That was deliberate. However, it’s one of the most important lessons I’m learning on my journey of Fulfilment.
I have never been to a shooting range, although I have always fantasised the thrill and adrenaline rush I suppose it brings. But I have seen too many movies to know that 8 out of 10 people don’t hit the target the first time and the other 2 who do, miss it the second time. I have also observed that pro’s miss at least 1 out of 10 shots, most times more. So that left a thought in my head about missing the target. It really isn’t an amateur thing. Amateurs just seem to be better (at missing the target that is) than pro’s are.
The same thing holds true about life. Most people fail in their first attempt at something big. Those who don’t, encounter some form of failure or loss (or whatever equates to missing the target ) in their second, third or fourth trial. Then there are the people we call successful. Well, they also have their fair share of failure. Now I don’t mean past failures alone, I mean current and future failures. The glittery road to success also has some potholes.
I always thought (because many writers made it seem so) that failure was only a prerequisite for success. That it was an obstacle we all must surmount if ever we would be successful. And that once it was done away with, the jolly ride to a life of fame, filled with glitz and glamour ensued.
Well, I’ll say now I know better.
Most people would rather use the word “challenge” in place of failure. I understand the context, I believe it too. But here I’m not talking about a clogged wheel. I’m actually referring to a crash in a dream, goal or ambition, when it seems like the best way forward is the way out.
We will come face to face with some wrong choices. All of them varying in consequences. Some will qualify as simple challenges, obstacles in the way; while others would be epic fails where all that’s left to gather are the ruins. You must decide that however they come, they will only define the situation – nothing more. They must not define your out come, they must not define who or what you think you are. You need to get ready, aim, fire and then aim again so you can fire with more precision. This is not only how we avoid failure, but also make the best of it, if/when it comes.
The luckiest people in the world are those who prepare. So please don’t tell me you would have, if only luck was on your side. Luck is built over several hours of perfecting the art of being lucky. Enough with the excuses.
Being fail proof requires that you prepare in two ways. And it doesn’t matter if its your first time out or you’ve tried and failed before (or maybe you didn’t fail but it wasn’t quite the success you were expecting ), you need to prepare both ways.
You need to engage in proactive preparation, where you equip yourself with the right ammunition for success. Get the required skills and resources, seek counsel, do some research on how it’s been done before, plan every step….. All those things a focused and ambitious person should do, fall under this category. You also need to engage in the reactive preparation. Here, the objective is damage control. That is, if this fails, how do I make it count in my favour? How do we make the best out of a failure situation? Doing this helps control the damages failure could cause and helps you focus on the actual elements that contributed to the unwanted outcome in the first place.
The rule is simple. Expect the best, prepare for the worst. It doesn’t mean you’re hoping for the worst, it simply means you’re smart. Because that way the worst can’t catch you unaware or unprepared. You’d actually be equipped to make the best out of even the worst situation. Once you do this, you can fire.
Usually the next task in shooting they say is to aim. But my thought is, why not fire if you’re ready. Aiming in this context is that hesitation. When you’re waiting for the perfect opportunity, with the perfect people providing you with the perfect resources for that perfect outcome. Well, nothing really is perfect. If anything was, then there’d be no room for improvement. So why not take that shot with the preparation you’ve already made? I experienced that even while writing this up. The need to have more people look at it, the need get the perfect write up. But at some point i just had to defy the perfectionist in me. At worst people would tell me they don’t like it, and I’ll have to ask what it was they didn’t like exactly, and I’ll have learned one more way not to write.
You need to get rid of the fear factor. Remember we’re dominating failure here. And if you fail, so what? One more story for your speaking engagements (yes those will come when you start winning) and one more method you at least know for sure doesn’t work for your desired outcome. Successful people see failure as a chance to reconsider the means to be applied while failures see failure as a chance to reconsider the goal. While one see’s an opportunity for revival, a chance to restart or refresh; the other sees a knock-out punch.
So please FIRE! Dare to fail and you’d be glad you did, because most times (or eventually) you actually don’t fail, you learn. I’d like to end this with something Jim Carrey (great actor and comedian) said.
“So many of us chose our path out of fear disguised as practicality. My father could have been a great comedian, but he didn’t believe that was possible for him. So, he made a conservative choice and instead he got a job as an accountant.”
Then Carrey reveals the moral of the story.
“When I was 12 years old, he was let go from that safe job,” he added. “Our family had to do whatever we could to survive. I learned many great lessons from my father, not the least of which is that you can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.”
So please fire!
I’d rather you fail at something than not even try at all. And by the way, my money is on you winning. Immediately or eventually.
So you’re tired and your worst fear has finally caught up with you. You knew it wasn’t going to work anyway. Or maybe you even believed beyond every doubt that it would. But then it didn’t. What next?
Let’s take a stroll back to our shooting class from the introduction. Remember missing the mark (failing) is familiar territory both to the rookies and the pro’s. The only difference is that the pro’s have mastered the art of aiming better than the rookies have, having failed more times than the rookie has even tried, making the next attempt better than the last (except you’re really terrible at shooting, then u need to find another hobby).
Failure is the practical class for getting better. While life is too short to learn everything by trial and error (so please look out for other people’s failures and learn from them), nothing sticks like an experience you went through yourself. And like the pro shooter, you are learning with every missed shot the art of making a better aim at the target. So here’s the new orientation you should have about that failed attempt at whatever it is you want to do. See it as another opportunity to adjust your aim. Identify what went wrong, fix it and then try again. My bet is that that same thing won’t go wrong the next time. And then if something else causes you to fail, adjust your aim again and shoot. If you however find the same problem interrupting your joy cruise, you can either get professional help with the problem or just leave it be. Leave it be you say? Yes i know.
Sometimes maybe shooting is just not your thing, even though you’re passionate about it. Passion may be a core reason, but it isn’t the only reason for doing something. If you’re passionate about a skill then learn it. But if you’re passionate about a talent for example or something else you do not possess the ability to do or zeal to execute, then you can express your passion by supporting those who can. Invest in those ventures, create innovative technology and systems to ease those processes. Take for example someone who can’t sing, but is passionate about music. He or she could become an instrumentalist, a music producer or even invent musical instruments. We’ve had athletes who had career ending injuries (failure) and then went on to become some of the greatest therapists and coaches in the sport they so love. I know failure sometimes comes with compromises but that must always be the last remedy, having tried all. So each time you fail, adjust your aim and then fire.
This is the stuff winners are made of. The grand presentation, the final circus act, the fat lady singing, the winning penalty in the champions league final. Whatever it is, this is IT. The eventual success everyone sees and aspires to attain, what they see and call you lucky, what they see and think you had an easy ride all the way to fame, fortune, influence, power, money, fulfillment or whatever it is success means to you.
If you have followed every part of this write-up then I don’t think I have to teach you how to fire here, because by now you’d know how. You’d know how you want to write your story and you’d do it with the kind of ease only you can do it with.
Someone once asked John C. Maxwell “how do you just sit on a stool, sip on a bottle of water and just talk and then have people listen and get paid for it?” And then John answered him by saying “Guess what I’ve been doing every day for the past 40 year. Every day I read, I write, I think, I ask questions” The man said “you mean every day? Including Christmas and New Year?” And John said “oh yes every day. I read, I write, I think, I ask questions and i repeat that the next day and the next and the next”.
John Maxwell also says something I believe to be true “we overestimate what we can do in one day, and underestimate what we can in many days”. I actually believe that success doesn’t come by being skilled at avoiding failure, but by winning in spite of it. it comes by placing it in its rightful place where it’s only a possibility and a surmountable one at that. So next time you fail at something, look failure in the face and say “thank you for the lesson, I’m doing this again, only better this time”.
I end this with the words of E. W. Kenyon : “Make your brain work. It will sweat, but make it work. It will improve. It will develop until you become a wonder to those around you.”
I see you winning, and I am excited about your future.
The Life Fulfillment Trainer