failure

How to Take Action When It’s Tough (and Be More Creative in the Process) – TUB-Thump 010

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Is there something in your life that stops you in your tracks? You wish you could do it, but you feel blocked.

It may be through embarrassment, overwhelm, worry…Whatever it is, it’s getting in the way of you being the best version of yourself.

Episode 010 of TUB-Thump looks at how to work on this. Find that drive, work out the why behind your why, and get more creative in the process.


Here are the show notes for the 12-min episode:

  • 00:50 – James Clear on how creativity is a process, not an event.
    More James Clear articles – http://jamesclear.com/articles
  • 01:40 – Why the fear of making mistakes can stop you from taking action.
  • 02:40 – Procrastination is about more than putting things off.
  • 03:15 – Beautiful Voyager on when the problem isn’t what you think it is.
    On unpacking the issues so you understand what’s truly bothering you.
  • 04:40 – Finding the why behind your why. The importance of asking “Why…?” several times.
  • 05:50 – “If you don’t take action, there is no creation.”
  • 06:30 – These feelings aren’t surprising. Overwhelm can be tackled, but only when you step back for a moment to work out the key issues. If you don’t identify the overarching themes, it’ll feel like everything is overwhelming. The reality is usually different.
  • 08:10 – You can recover from most things, as James Clear says. What can you challenge yourself to do?
  • 09:45 – Once you’ve found the big issue, it’s easier to act in the other situations. By removing them from the overwhelm, they no longer feel like such a big deal.
  • 10:40 – It’s better to tackle things head-on than it is to let them swamp you.

Music for TUB-Thump is Life, by Tobu, which is released under a Creative Commons license. Check out more of Tobu’s great sounds on Soundcloud, YouTube, and his official site.

TUB-Thump is part of the Learning Always Network.

Keep being awesome!

And a P.S. – The joy of scheduling posts in advance for when you’re not around. The woe of realising that didn’t happen when it’s too late to do anything about it. Oh well! One day late is better than not at all. 🙂

Have a great weekend. See you on the flipside!

Returning to awesome: 7 things to do after lower A-level results

Okay, it’s A-level results day. If you, or anyone you know, is holding on to grades that weren’t the ones you’d hoped for, read this.

Your life IS NOT shaped by your results. YOU go way beyond a few exam grades.

What makes you awesome isn’t about a particular institution, degree, or career. Those things don’t matter as much as you might think.

Your awesomeness is about what you do. Everything you do. And who you are.

You are the big picture. While your experiences are parts of you, they don’t define you, they only help build a definition of you in pieces. For every situation that makes you want to crawl under a rock, there are many others that will pick you back up and make your big picture more amazing than ever.

In short, you can still make things happen if you want it. Lower A-level results aren’t a fail. You may have failed to secure a firm offer to the degree you wanted, but that doesn’t mean you fail. Or, put another way, failure is fine. It means you work on what’s next for your big picture.

Stuff like this can make you feel deflated. But don’t let it make you give up. Start with some of the following:

Have a cuppa and stay calm. Oh, and a doughnut too. Nom.

1. Take stock and stay calm

Yes, it’s time to pick yourself up, but have a cup of tea first. Have a few cups of tea. Basically, let it go for a moment. Nobody expects you to jump up fighting straight after a shock. So relax. As hard as that sounds, try.
It is not the end of the world. If anyone acts like it is, they are wrong. Hope is not lost.
Imagine how it feels when you’re really dizzy. Your balance is thrown around at first, but you gradually improve. Give yourself time to feel a bit less dizzy.

2. Consider clearing options

Although some unis say they have no clearing places, that’s no reason to ignore what is available. Check my previous posts on clearing to make sure you are prepared:

Other clearing tips online today:

3. Only accept a place through clearing if you really want it and you think it’ll suit you

Just grabbing at places because you’re desperate to go to uni is a dangerous move. If you really are that keen to be in a uni, ANY uni, it’s better to find places that will guarantee you a place next year based on the grades you have. Then plan ahead for the year ahead.
Yes, even though tuition fees go up next year. Fees are more annoying than dangerous.

4. Consider your other options

We’re all thrown curveballs from time to time. You certainly won’t be alone in this situation. There are other routes into uni. And you may even decide not to bother with university at all. Correct, that IS an option. Seriously. A good place to start in checking out other options is notgoingtouni.com.

The Independent has information on distance learning options.

Also check out Ross Renton’s tips on what do you do if you don’t get a place at University.

5. Find support from understanding friends and family

Don’t go through this alone. And if it is too tough to speak to those you know, seek online forums of support. There will be a lot of people going through similar circumstances over at The Student Room, for instance.

UCAS also has an Exam Results Helpline, with people on hand to discuss your future options. Give them a call on 0808 100 8000. UCAS say, “Whether it’s questions about continuing into further or higher education, or pursuing different routes such as vocational learning routes, taking a gap year or finding employment, advisers are on-hand to offer free, expert and independent information and advice”.

6. Work on Plan B, even when you don’t have one

University and College Union says that tens of thousands of students who don’t get a uni place this year are “unlikely to have a plan B“.

So make one. Now you’ve considered your options, make a focused plan. It doesn’t have to be detailed, but it does need to be taken seriously.
Why? Because now is not the time to despair and grab at the first thing to fall into your reach.
Give it proper thought. Ask yourself some questions. What were you going to university for? How else can you get to where you want to be? Who or what can help you in your quest? Do you have any particular career or pathway in mind?
If you can’t answer all your questions, do some more research. And don’t be afraid to ask for advice as you do it. Nobody would be able to do as much as they do without other people.

7. Believe in yourself

It’s not always easy to pick yourself up after a fall. But don’t be hard on yourself. What’s done is done. If you did your best, there is nothing to worry about. You can shine brighter in other ways. If you know in your heart of hearts that you could have upped the effort, let this be Day One of making the effort you know you can give.

Good luck to you and may you have an amazing future.

How to Fail Brilliantly

None of us want to fail. If you could pass everything with flying colours, you would.

However, that requires work.

When you put the effort in, not everything is perfect. You have to get used to it. You’re going to fail once in a while.

original by action datsun
original by action datsun

So why not fail brilliantly? Here’s some help on how to use failure to your advantage:

  • Separate aspects of failure out of your control from those you can deal with – Control freaks don’t appreciate matters that are out of their control. Nevertheless, they exist. Anything you can deal with, concentrate on that. As for the stuff you don’t have a handle of, be aware of it as a random force.
  • Spend more time on rectifying, not blaming – Now you’ve worked out what’s outside your control, work out how best to move on. Don’t attribute blame to others in the process. Spend time more fruitfully: work with others to reach a more favourable conclusion; choose other variables/individuals with better potential; bypass the problem areas completely, if possible. Time spent solving problems is more effective than wasting time accusing others.
  • Analyse why the failure occurred – If you don’t know why events unfolded the way they did, how can you learn from the failure? Take stock of what happened before you try again. For any elements that don’t make sense, try finding out more in that area before moving on.
  • Accept – Sometimes we make the same mistakes again and again due to denial. It *has* to work this way.
    But does it really? Okay, certain situations may succeed eventually with a bit of patience and better circumstances. But most situations will fail until you do something different. Don’t be stubborn if other opportunities arise. Be open to change. You can’t be right all the time!
  • Understand which aspects of the situation *were* successful – The end result may not be perfect, but failure doesn’t mean you must start from scratch. What you do isn’t usually characterised by a succeed/fail mentality. There’s a lot of movement in between. Use the mini successes within a bigger picture fail until you have a bunch of mini-successes from start to finish.
  • Use failure as part of a process, or as a tool – You don’t pick up a tool and use it without learning a bit about it first. Even if it’s only the basics. Before mastering a process or tool, you spend time learning, developing and experiencing. Failure is one step closer to success because, without failure, success can’t happen either.
  • Be responsible – A lot of failure can be turned around by taking a bit more responsibility. Imagine working your butt off for an essay and only getting a bare pass. Then imagine all that hard work was condensed into 48 hours before the essay was due in. You knew it wouldn’t be best to leave the assignment until the last minute, but for many, that’s exactly what happens. It’s what I call a ‘covert failure’. By taking responsibility from the outset, you can manage the situation more clearly and work your butt off without breaking into a sweat. From covert failure to double win.

Now you can fail better, you may still not like failing. Don’t worry, I’ve got tips on how to pick yourself up after a fall too.

Now get out there and start failing, you awesome person, you!

Will You Be a Fantastic Failure or Awesome Underachiever?

Is it better to ‘underachieve’ or to ‘fail’?

The Harvard Business Review Blog recently talked about the best type of failure to learn from.  The article states: “The essential insight is that partial failures are far more valuable than total breakdowns.”

photo by KungPaoCajun

photo by KungPaoCajun

So is failure too much to learn anything?

Apparently an element of success is necessary to allow greater success to follow.  Therefore, underperformance is preferable to complete failure.

In my mind, the words ‘failure’ and ‘underachiever’ are too subjective to differentiate.  The HBR piece even admits, “underperformance is a form of failure”.

This being the case, how prepared should we be to fail?  If we can’t answer that, how do we know how far to go before we’ve failed too much to learn anything from?

Stefan of Study Successful (who I mentioned just recently on here), told me that it’s important to fail:

“That is the way you will learn things! Underperform will take a lot of time to actually learn something…Failure will be a slap in the face, forces you to learn faster. How do you notice underperformance?”

Stefan explores the matter further at his blog.

As I see it, failure can be a slap, but only if you’re prepared to accept it.  The same can be said for underperformance.  If you’re in denial, you won’t let anything slap you down.  You must accept the fact that problems don’t just belong to other people.

Once you start the process of identifying personal weaknesses and admitting shortcomings, you’re in a better position to start learning from all sorts of failure.  In terms of the HBR piece, they were discussing the state of physical buildings.  While they make pertinent points, the situation isn’t as simple for our subjective and chaotic minds.  Physical forces are certainly unpredictable, but in completely different ways to the brain.

By the nature of who we are, we all make mistakes every day.  You can’t stop making them, but you can look at how to make sense of those mistakes, how to recognise mistakes, and how far you’re willing to accept your own mistakes in order to change.

The subjectiveness of failure brings up all sorts of opinions and ideas:

  • Seth Godin – “If you spend your days avoiding failure by doing not much worth criticizing, you’ll never have a shot at success.”
  • Daniel H. Pink – “Most people are more frightened of failure than of mediocrity. It should be the reverse.”
  • David Rogers – “Definitions of failure effectively put it as the opposite of success, being unsuccessful. However, failure is a far more emotive word.”
  • Ririan – “All it takes is for you to have the courage to fail once in a while.”
  • Michael J. Formica – “…we all possess the potential to rise from the ashes of our own defeat, if we can get out of our own way long enough to see what lessons that defeat has wrought.”

How do you learn from your mistakes?  What level of failure are you best at working with?  And would you rather develop after underachieving or totally failing?