One contributor to ultimate success is the willingness to adopt failure as part of the process.
One of the reasons that this kind of practice is valuable is that it allows you to make more attempts at creating something you’ll be proud of. If you put everything into one project, one book, or one concept, it may be successful, but if it isn’t then you have to start over. However, if you are consistently putting effort into a portfolio of activities then you are increasing the chances that you’ll stumble onto something that could be truly valuable. Once you do, of course, you can pour yourself fully into that idea until it’s proven or shown to be a dead end. However, this will be with the added context of having tried and failed at a lot of other projects as well.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot over the past week especially with the media narrative surrounding the NBA Finals. The question, as positioned by the media coverage, is “can LeBron James carry Cleveland all the way to an NBA championship on his back?” The headlines read “James scores 44 points to lead his team to victory” or “James sets NBA Finals scoring record” for the first three games of the series. What these headlines don’t reveal is that James is taking the majority of his team’s shots, and making less than 40% of them. This is markedly lower than his normal efficiency on the court. Still, in the midst of the inefficiency, there has been unbelievable brilliance.
“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
– Michael Jordan
The analogy doesn’t overlap perfectly, but consider how many “shots” you are taking in your life. How often are you putting work into the world? How many kinds of activity are in your portfolio of risk?