Formula of failure (and why it works)

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Very few achieve success. It’s the sad truth, and social media makes the fact even sadder. By virtue of its omnipresence, you constantly see, hear, and read that someone has managed to achieve incredible success. Someone, but not you.

Actually, it’s simple. There is a formula of failure, and if you don’t happen to be a member of the Royal family, chances are it works for you with high-order likelihood.

Imagine that your dream (goal, wish) is a multi-level game. You start going towards reaching that goal, beat the first level, the second, the third. You are determined. Your willpower is made of steel. But the levels get harder and harder. Usually it takes you 3 tries to beat a level. The final level of the game will take you, let’s say, 15 tries, and the 15th one will be successful. That’s where you can test you frustration threshold (the maximum number of failed attempts that can’t stop you from trying again). The more committed the person, the higher their frustration threshold. In our example, if your FT is less than 14, you will give up on this level. You were so close to reaching your goal.

Here’s a real life example. In her recent commencement speech to Tulane University graduates, TV host Hoda Kotb has told the story of getting her first job. She got rejected 27 times in a row, she heard 27 no’s in 10 days. But she decided to have the 28th interview. And it was a success. If her frustration threshold had been less than 27, she would have come back home, feeling like a failure. But she has reached her goal.

I watched her 20-minute speech twice. It was the most motivational 40 minutes in my life.

So, what number would you put in your formula?

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54 thoughts on “Formula of failure (and why it works)

  1. I think my threshold must be very low – that’s why I’m a serial faddist and change my hobbies so frequently! Having said that, I will persevere if I have, say, a deadline to meet or a specific goal (such as achieving a qualification). But I do need to see some level of success, even if small, to keep me going. So, I would have definitely given up after being rejected 27 times – that’s why some people are more successful than others!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. This is great to read since I’m at the point where I needed to take a break from full steam ahead. The irony is we won’t know our number until we face rejection or failure. It’s pushing through our internal “NO” to try again that gives us our number. I am on the journey to discovering the number for my next success. I look forward to knowing your number as you obtain success after success.

    Liked by 2 people

    • As for internal “NO”s, I totally agree! Self-criticism is the most relentless and searching kind of criticism. Sometimes our tricky brains are our slyest enemies. But once you’ve managed to silence your inner critic, it’s a lot easier to move on. For my number, I don’t know. I think it’s just kind feedback and thoughtful comments of my followers that make me keep writing.

      Like

  3. by all means try and try again but your article doesnt cover what to do when you are a serial try-er but your ideas are just never clever or going to fly…. i know someone like that
    full of hope but not the right ideas

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Mine is probably a very low number, sadly. I don’t do well with rejection due to incredible social anxiety. I’ve also suffered from depression for many years. I’ve gotten a lot better at not giving up hope, but it’s still a struggle to press forward with certain things.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Marta. I’m proud to say my limit is 10X10^18. This is a trained response to failure due to my work in research and development. We are expected to fail because we are pushing the limits of science. I love trying to defy the laws of physics but so far that has proven hard to do. But, that will never stop me from trying. The other thing I will never give up on is trying to write a blog worth reading. To infinity and beyond as my hero Buzz Lightyear always says. loved this post, Marta. It’s inspirational to know that perseverance to achieve one’s desired goals is in accepting failure or disappointment as part of earning the final victory.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Daniel! Of course I knew your number approaches infinity in this formula. And beyond 🙂 And I’m really glad to hear that because such people as you and Hoda are a plentiful source of inspiration for me.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you, Marta! For me, failure has always led to new paths and greater glory. Some of the greatest adventures of my life occurred while I was lost. It is our challenges rather than our comfort that grows us mentally and spiritually. But, you already knew that. 😘

        Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Daniel! ☀ I’ve had to shift my focus from blogging to another interesting “project” so that I can write even more in the future. But it takes a little more time than I thought. So, I don’t know whether I’m a slowly crouching tiger or hidden dragon 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh, now this is most interesting, Marta. My Dragon Masters tell me you are a mighty Dragon Sister with the heart of a Tigress. I wish you the best of luck on this project and look forward to reading about your adventure. 😍🐉🐯

        Liked by 2 people

      • Thank you Daniel! When I saw your Like on the comment in my notifications, I saw the word ‘follow’ under your name instead of the ‘following’ that I always see. And I have a very very interesting question. If I’ve always been your follower, who could unsubscribe me from your blog? Is there evidence that some malignant forces are involved? Or did you change your domain?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Marta, I did change my domain. I deleted the Hyperion Sturm blog and now I am only concentrating on writing the complete novel of Return of Dragons on a new blog which is a major rewrite of all the Dragon stories to improve connectivity between parts and add much more detail and make it more realistic. You read the beginning chapter of Origins titled, Faith, which I’ve edited until I got dizzy and fell out of my chair and bruised my Dragon tail. The blog is my way of sharing my work in progress with the three people that actually like my writing. I would love to have you visit when you have time. Then I would have 4 readers which is a nice even number. My gravatar should take you to returnofdragons.wordpress.com whenever you feel like dancing with dragons. 💃🏽🐉🎶

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Wow!
    When I started my life over at 35, I had a hard time regaining a footing in my field, despite years of experience and high recommendations. Over two years, I submitted 234 applications, received 4 invitations to interview, and was offered exactly two positions.
    And today I’m exactly where I want to be and more successful than I ever imagined.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Interesting thought starter. I don’t really have a set failure number. I’m of the school of thought that it actually varies given a situation. For things that are vitally important, I think everybody’s failure number can be quite high. For example: getting a job, I don’t give up after 4 tries, I can’t. I go until I land a job. It could be 29 rejections, but I keep going, even though very discouraged. For other things like learning how to make a blog for example, I almost gave up after 6 tries, but finally got to the next step. For an even more mundane example, if a record doesn’t sound decent or good to me after 3 or 4 cleanings, I give up on it. Hmm, maybe that is not a good example, because there is practicality and study behind that, oh well.
    There are just some things that require more tries and some require less. I’m fairly easily discouraged, but sometimes I just have to fight through it, ya know? We all do and most times we end up persevering and successful at whatever our endeavour is (provided we have the necessary accoutrements of course, I can’t build a car if I don’t know how).

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree about different factors that can influence our decisions. Some things are way more important to us than others and we just can’t quit. How we handle failure also depends on whether we actually want to pursue those things. I think the main idea is to keep trying for the sake of some higher goal, not just for the sake of trying. We shouldn’t show ourselves or others how high our threshold is just because it makes us feel better about ourselves and our ability to achieve what we want. That’s where we should think about the real value of what we are doing and Why we are doing it.
      Thank you for your thoughful comment, Eric.

      Like

      • Hi Marta, Yes, thinking about the real value of why we are doing something is the real reason, motivator, etc. Your right, most of us handle failure differently depending on what we are pursuing or trying to do and how important it is to us.
        How high our threshold is or showing ourselves for our ability to achieve doesn’t accomplish anything. In order to accomplish something and work through, we have to stay focused on our reason for doing something and never mind being showy and all that as it wastes a lot of energy that could be better used on the task at hand.
        Always good to hear from you Marta, thank you

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, among other reasons, that’s why I stay clear of social media (facebook, twitter, insta this or that, etc). Narcissists really scare me too, (especially the psycho type). I’m just me, nothing special, to think otherwise invites constant failure.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. My threshold is very high. I have applied 100s of jobs in last few months, but no luck (not even an interview)! I think I’m qualified with 5+ years of engineering experience in Canada, but our province is going through some recession and my area is oil and gas development, so you can totally relate. I’m writing this because I guess no one knows what is their threshold until they try and try and try and then finally succeed. So, never give up!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Totally agree with you. We should keep our intrinsic motivation at a high level to succeed and find new ways to grow again and again. The hardest part is to convince yourself, not others.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Hi Marta,
    It’s been way to long ago, I visited your blog. Great article and to answer your question; depends on what my goal is. If I really want it, my number could be endless.
    XxX

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Where you been, Marta??? I hope you didn’t let some silly failure threshold keep you from posting. I post every single day, to a handful of Likes, and even fewer Comments. I only have 1527 Followers, but most of them seem to be very loyal. Keep writing. I like your style!

    — YUR

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your nice words!
      I have a silly trait that is part of my nature – if I do something, I can’t devote a half of myself to this thing, I just hate halves. That’s why I’ve decided to throw all my efforts into something new. But my passion for writing will never go away. That’s for sure.
      So I’m not afraid of any threshholds, I’ve simply chosen another game 😉
      Cheers 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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