If You’re Not Failing, You’re Not Winning

Look closer...ah, there it is. Ouch.

Two clients approached me with very different problems. One was a single man in search of a girlfriend, and the other was a struggling writer in search of a book deal.

In other words, they wanted what we all want — a satisfying relationship and a rewarding career.

But my clients were making the same critical mistake: they were resistant to taking the necessary first steps toward their goals. It boiled down to a fear of rejection — either a woman would reject my client based on his looks and personality (Ouch!), or a literary agent or publisher would reject my client based on his writing skills (Aw, crap!). Paralyzed by this fear, the single guy couldn’t even get himself to casually make small talk with a female, while the writer couldn’t get himself to pitch his book to anyone.

My advice? As usual, it involved balls. But this time, I meant baseballs.

First, let’s take a look at baseball players. (Must…grab…firm butts in tight pants…mmm…)

Ooh, did I just write that out loud? Sorry!

Anyway, if a baseball player’s batting average is above .300, he’s considered an excellent hitter. But do you know how that .300 is calculated? Do you know what .300 actually means?

(Non-sports fans: Stick with me here. This analogy is a good one, I promise.)

Your batting average is calculated by using this formula:

Hits ÷ Number of time you went up to bat = Your batting average

In other words, if you went up to bat 600 times, and hit the ball so that you made it to first base 180 times out of the 600 attempts, you’d have a .300 batting average and would be considered a great player. You’d be a crowd favorite — kids would have your poster up above their beds, and women would wish you’d crawl into theirs.

Let’s stop for a moment and allow this to sink in: If you make 600 attempts to reach your goals, and only 30% of those attempts were successful, congratulations my friend — you’re doing great!

What matters is that you were brave enough to step up to the plate again and again despite some failures along the way. It’s called perseverance, and you can’t win without it.

My two clients were too afraid to even step up to the plate. Their goals were so precious to them that they feared taking a swing and missing — it would be too devastating.

So I gave them the following advice: “Stop putting so much pressure on yourself to win the first time out. Your job is to walk up to the plate and fail 70% of the time, just like professional baseball players do. That’s right– make small talk with women and have it to go nowhere on most days. Send your book to literary agents and get rejected over and over. That’s how you know you’re a good player. That’s how you’ll build courage and confidence over time. That’s how you’ll know you’re winning.”

So, honorary members of the Cojones Crusade, whether you’re trying to improve your career, health, or relationships, just remember: you can’t win unless you lose 420 times out of 600 attempts. (Ain’t that a relief?) Just never stop walking up to the plate.

Now go get ‘em!

Your Turn: What did you have to keep failing at in order to eventually win?


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4 Responses to If You’re Not Failing, You’re Not Winning

  1. You Know Me says:

    So imagine a sportscaster talking about the greatest hitter in the game…
    “Can you imagine that people are taking about this bum for the Hall of Fame???!!! Over the course of his career he’s failed to do his job nearly 70% of the time for God’s sake! I mean, where would ordinary men and women be if we had that kind of track record on the job? Would anyone be paying us millions of dollars? Oh, OK. Maybe if we were CEOs of American Auto manufacturers or Banks…”

  2. Sheryl says:

    I learned this lesson working in sales and fundraising. The most successful people are also the ones who get rejected the most times. It’s also definitely something I’ve been applying to the job search.

    There’s no expectation here that every resume yields and interview, or every interview leads to a job. It’s a numbers game, with the realization that 90% of my work won’t have much payoff, but I have to go through the process in order to get to the end result. So I’m still in the process of failing hard at that, because I know that one day that will turn around.

    The biggest lesson I’ve learned with it is to take ego out of it completely. It’s not about “I’m not good enough” it’s about “there are fifty other applicants who all have similar or more experience than me, and there’s only one openning” and recognizing that it’s a reflection of a much bigger picture.

    • Kimberly Eclipse says:

      Man, not feeling like a failure can be SO tough when job hunting. (Been there!) But like you said, if you can take ego out of the picture and not equate your job hunting results with self-worth you can keep your sanity in check. Good luck with your search and keep on keepin’ on!

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