One of my favorite television shows is HGTV’s Flip or Flop. It is about a married couple, Tarek and Christina, who are in the house flipping business. They take huge financial risks and often experience huge financial rewards because of it.
In fact that is one of their core beliefs: The size of the risk determines the size of the reward.
The other core belief, which Christina articulates at the beginning of every episode: Failure is not an option.
I have heard many successful people use that affirmation, and I respect their point of view. Yet something has always bothered me about it. Today I figured out what that is. I think they are not articulating something that underlies their success.
The fact that they are willing to put everything on the line for their project strongly suggests that they are, in fact, willing to fail.
What they are not saying, but they intuitively know, is the inverse of their core belief about huge risk, huge reward.
Huge risk can also mean huge loss.
Failure and success are not accomplished fates. They exist on a continuum of possibility and probability. And both leave clues.
To believe that failure is not an option is to proactively and actively move the project to success through successive correct choices based on our personal collection of clues about success and failure. Over time, we learn to stack the deck in our favor. Even though we are willing to fail, we probably won’t.
As I have watched successive seasons of Flip or Flop, I have seen Tarek and Christina mature in their deciding process and trust their choices more and more. For them, failure is less and less an option because they are confidently choosing success. Though the possibility of failure exists, they fear it less because they are continually turning up the dial toward success.
Henry David Thoreau, who wandered the environs of Walden Pond more than two-hundred years ago knew this when he wrote, “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams.”
To which I add, be willing to fail and you increase the chance that you will succeed.
Don Draper’s success in business is tied to one thing. He studies his prospective customer. Watch a few episodes of AMC’s MadMen and you’ll get this.
Once you know your customer, you no longer need clever, cute, pithy or corny. You only need to assemble a message that tugs at their hopes and dreams. A message that makes buying your product — today, if possible — the only reasonable course of action.