Learn From Success, Not Failure – Jerry Fetta
Growing up I remember being taught that we should learn from the failures of other people. At the time this made sense to me because I didn’t really know anyone that was outrageously successful. As I grew older I remember being taught to learn from my own failures too. This was much harder because I hated (and still continue to hate) failing. It was something I wanted to just block out and keep moving. Never once though, was I taught to learn from my own success or the success of other people. It was almost as if talking about or thinking about your own success was “bragging”. And if we talked about someone else’s success, it would offend others. That’s why everyone used to hate the Lakers (I say used to because now that they no longer win anymore nobody has a word to say about them).
So here is my question: Should we really learn from the failures of others? Now let me clarify: I’m not asking can we or even are we willing to learn from other’s failures. I’m asking is it something we should do. Is it a good practice? My opinion? No. It makes absolutely no sense. Are there things to learn? Probably. But couldn’t we learn the same things and more from those who succeeded? Before I scare you away, let me get us on the same page here.
If I’m trying increase my income, there are 4 people who I can talk to: the person who succeeded at the goal I am pursuing, the person who failed at the goal I am pursuing, the person who is striving to get there just like I am, and the person who is not pursuing the same goals as I am. This is the quadrant. Today we are only going to focus on the first two, the person who succeeded and the person who failed.
My conversation with the person who failed will probably be comprised of questions like: “What would you have done differently? What was the hardest part? What are the biggest obstacles I need to look out for?” etc. But the overall tone of my mental notes would be something along the lines of “Things I Shouldn’t Do“. Can I learn from these things? Sure. Am I willing to? Definitely. But again, the question is should I.
My conversation with the person who succeeded would be much different. It would be centered around learning what that person didthat won! “How did you get started? How did you change your thinking? What do you attribute your success to? What did you do differently than everyone else who did not succeed? What obstacles did you have to overcome?” My mental notes from this conversation would have the title “Things That Won” and I would be looking at how I could duplicate them in my own life and maybe even add my own twist to them down the road after I’ve proven my success with these principles.
If we’re serious about our goals, do we want to know what didn’t work and how to not do the things that didn’t work? Or do we want to know what did work? Logically speaking, if we know the things that did work we can also deduce that the exact opposite of those things will not work. In addition to that, the person who succeeded surely knows about the same difficulties, challenges, and obstacles that the unsuccessful person knows about. The only difference is that the successful person overcome them. The unsuccessful person did not. Personally, I want to learn from the person who overcame the obstacles and was victorious.
Here is an exercise that I do to test the validity of many concepts and phrases we’ve adopted. I re-associate it with another subject to see if it still makes sense! So here we go! If we want to make a great steak, should we talk to a person who has made a great steak to learn how to do it or should we talk to the person who made a terrible steak to ask them what we shouldn’t do? Knowing how a bad steak was made does not mean we know how to make a good one. If we’re asking for directions to get to a destination should we ask the person who has been there and followed the directions successfully? Or should we ask the person who got lost and never made it? Knowing what roads not to take doesn’t mean we are equipped to reach the destination. If we want an excellent marriage, should we ask the person who has a poor marriage and/or is divorced? Or should we ask the person who has been married 50 years? Knowing what not to do in a marriage doesn’t mean we know how to have a successful marriage.
Ultimately, results tell the story. If a person failed at obtaining the result we want, we can be friends with them, we can converse with them, we can do life with them, but we shouldn’t take advice from them on the subject. Picture yourself driving through a big city that you’ve never been to before. You turn on your iPhone’s GPS to get assistance to get where you’re going and Siri begins saying things like “There will be traffic jams you’ll need to watch out for. Don’t turn left. Don’t take This Street. One time I made a right turn here and it didn’t work. I sure would have done that differently and made a left turn instead.” But Siri couldn’t tell you what you SHOULD do because Siri didn’t know. She’d never made it there.
I think you get my point. It’s fine to have conversations, ask questions, and hear stories of wins and losses. And no we should not disassociate from someone just because they didn’t succeed and we shouldn’t look down on them either. But ultimately, we should only ask advice from those with credibility. Credibility is judged by results.
“As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” – Proverbs 27:17
Make sure those you sharpen yourself against really are iron. Iron is only iron if it has the qualities that iron has and has achieved the results that iron can achieve. If these things are not present, by definition it is not iron. Can we learn from other’s failures? Yes. Are most of us willing to learn from other’s failures? I’d say so. Couldn’t we learn more from someone who succeeded? And doesn’t the person who succeeded know about the same struggles and obstacles that the unsuccessful would tell us about? I’d bet on it.
We spend too much of our lives listening to financially unsuccessful people tell us what not do with our money. I personally didn’t start winning with money until I shifted and began exclusively taking my financial advice from the successful and the proven. If you’re ready to follow a plan that is successful and proven with your finances Click Here to speak with a Wealth Coach.
Jerry Fetta is a husband, son of Yahweh, Entrepreneur and owner of 5 privately held businesses. Jerry lives in Alaska with his wife and 2 dogs. His no-nonsense approach to business, finances, and life speaks truth and provides clarity to his clients and followers. His personal mission in life is to empower millions of leaders to own their God-given, ultimate potential