Failure is a useful thing. It was Bill Gates who once said ‘Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking that they cannot fail’.
Well lately I’ve been learning a lot from that great teacher – failure. During my two month goal of focusing only on process rather than results I am finding that deprived of my normal method of constantly measuring results I am adrift in what feels like an unmotivated cloud of never quite obtaining focus itself.
This has been pretty demoralising and demotivating but it’s also providing a valuable learning experience. I have learned that over time I have trained myself to succeed only through results based improvement. I suspect that this way of approaching tough challenges is key to the difficulties I have with maintaining these improvements later on. Ironically, this is not the approach I take to the implementation of lean in my organisation where the focus is on the growth of culture above all other things.
Most recently, I have come to the realisation that the issues I am having have less to do with focusing on the process and much more to do with an inability to focus at all.
The stresses of day to day life; kids, work, family, housework, pets and new commitments are dragging my focus away from my goals. Not directly, it’s just become very hard to focus with the constant chaos of life always interfering. Not that I mind, I have a great life and am always mindful of how lucky I am in the big scheme of things. Despite this, I know that I’ve lost focus along the way and this is where learning from failure comes in again.
If it wasn’t for this two month commitment to focusing on process, it is unlikely that I would have come to this conclusion. I would have measured my results, found them wanting, reset and just carried on and on, not getting into the details of why I wasn’t succeeding.
With this focus, or lack of it, on process I am compelled to understand why I am struggling to focus and to find ways of integrating this better into my lifestyle.
Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist in this post on Becoming Unbusy says that ‘Busyness is, at it’s core, about misplaced priorities’. This has led me to examine again my own priorities. I know what they are but how have I misplaced them and what is preventing me from living them? Obviously at the moment, due to many factors, I am still failing to make improving my health a key priority. Again, it’s ironic, as improving my health is actually likely to make managing the hustle and bustle of life easier.
So with the second month of my two month focus on process challenge well underway I have a new task. Regain focus and ensure that there is time available for my priorities. I need to find ways of reducing commitments that could wait and eliminate non essential activities that are likely to distract me from focusing. I’m grateful that I’ve come to this realisation as I don’t think I would have gotten here without this experiment.
So thanks failure, you’re a great teacher!