Thursday, July 7, 2011

Failing the Failure Formula

“Failure is not a single, cataclysmic event. You don’t fail overnight. Instead, failure is a few errors in judgment, repeated every day.”
Jim Rohn

You know, it takes more work to fail than to succeed. Failing is a skill. There is a structure to failure and it is encapsulated by the following formula which turns the NLP Success Formula on its head:

The Failure Formula
1.    Ignorance – Don’t know what you want or what’s important to you.
2.    Don’t do anything about it – don’t take congruent action or take inefficient or meaningless action.
3.    Ignore all feedback – don’t learn from experience.
4.    Don’t change – be very inflexible, keep doing what doesn’t work.

It’s really obvious!

It’s obvious really repeated failure comes from being very skilled in one or more of the steps above. You can easily sabotage success by not knowing what you want, or following poorly-formed outcomes; by not taking action or taking incongruent and ineffectual action; by ignoring feedback or advice; and by being stuck or inflexible and not changing as required. Oh, and remember: make sure you complain and whinge about how cruel life is to make all this happen to you...

The wise aphorism of ‘a stitch in time, saves nine’ expresses quite well the fact that failing creates more work and requires more energy from life. If you are clear on your outcomes and proactively do the ‘stitch in time’ to fix things before they fail, you’ve only invested a small amount of energy to succeed.

However, if you neglect to get clear about what you want and need in life or fail to take action in time, then you’ll end up having to do ‘nine’ times the work to remedy the failure. You will constantly be expending far more energy, time and resources just to get by.

A cool idea…

And here’s a cool idea… If you are skilled at failing, then why not fail at failing? Just stop failing. Fail at following the Failure Formula. Hmmm, obvious really: Turn failure around and do its converse – success.

Yes, failure takes work and is a skilled incompetence. Anytime you find yourself not getting what you want in life, examine your behaviour to see if you’re unconsciously following any of the steps of the Failure Formula. Look for examples of the Failure Formula in your life. Then assiduously and passionately pattern interrupt them and do the converse.

Place your focus and motivation onto the steps of the Success Formula. Get clear about your goals, values, strengths, outcomes and dreams. Prioritise and focus your well-formed outcomes. Take congruent action and follow through. Learn from the feedback life provides as you take action and then change flexibly to keep adjusting your behaviours till you’ve achieved your desired results.

If it’s possible in the world, then it’s possible for you. It’s never a question of ‘if only I could do it’, it’s simply a question of learning ‘how’ to achieve your desired success. Learning comes when you are open to feedback and open to advice. Look for role models – people who have already achieved the results you desire. Then learn from them and model their actions.

Invest in your Self

This life is yours! It’s the life you lead! So lead it well. Your life can be fantastic if you stay strong, stay focused and put action to your dreams.

Invest in your life, your future and your self. Build up your knowledge and skills. Determine your strengths and then build on them. Focus your life. Gain as many and as varied experiences as you can.

Educate yourself. The more you invest in your self and in creating a meaningful life, the more you’ll be able to live great dreams. Life is a wondrous adventure and there is nothing like living an amazing dream to create an amazing future now.

And you can learn more about all of this in my new book: 'Avoiding the Enemies to HAPPINESS'

So Take Action! Follow the Success Formula. Be the changes you want to see in your world. Watch out for the Failure Formula in your own life and those around you - Pattern interrupt it whenever you see it. You can do it! You really can make a life enhancing difference!

smiles and life enhancing wishes,


  1. Cute article I'll Grant you that! So enhance me on how one may utilise the Success Formula with time movement (I'm endevouring to avoid the time travelling metaphor)?

  2. Hey Geejay, well, moving forward and looking back on how successful you've been is a very useful time distortion to create positive use of cognitive dissonance in supporting you having achieved your outcome now. It's all about time line elicitation and time coding, and includes your use of temporal predicates. Lot's of advanced NLP stuff there and here :-) now... wasn't it then, and so wonderfully succesful, you will have found now, haven't you? Yes.

    many smiles,

  3. Grant, this is wonderful! "And here’s a cool idea… If you are skilled at failing, then why not fail at failing?" Wouldn't have thought of it myself, but it really makes perfect sense!

  4. Hey Jean, thanks! It does make a lot of sense and is obvious once it's pointed out. Most people don't fail by accident. They generate their failure over and over again in repeated patterns in their lives. It's a skill. Not one they actually want. But one they do with unconscious competency. Awareness is the first step to change.

    Thanks for taking the time to comment. I really appreciate the shared interaction.

    cheerings, Grant

  5. Well yes when you put it like that, it's really obvious! :)

  6. Hey G,

    Yup, it's a BFO (Blinding Flash of the Obvious). I particulary enjoyed creating the Failure Formula with my friend David, one evening, when we were exploring the enemies to human happiness. It was so obvious when we flipped the NLP Success Formula on it's head, that there was a converse to it, and it was maybe even more powerful than the Success Formula. After all, in order to achieve success in life, you need to know what NOT to do, as much as what TO DO. Both are important. And obvious once you know them.

    smiles, G

  7. Hi Grant,

    Thank you for this post. You are the master of the obvious and the obscure!

    Kindest Regards,


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