January 11, 2022

Episode 21: Epic fails

Failure is really uncomfortable for most of us. Yet, it’s easy to understand that being open for the possibility of failing is the best way to test stuff and figure out what works. In today’s episode, I teach you how to embrace failure in a way that even me can manage it 😉

What you will discover

  • Why it’s important to fail fast
  • The reason it’s difficult to pick yourself up after a failure
  • The powerful mind shift that’ll help you try more things
  • How to get yourself excited to fail


Mixed and produced by Adrien Grenier

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Episode Transcript

Hi, and welcome to the Excellent Rider podcast. I'm Mélanie, I'm a certified life coach and I specialize in helping people like you get things done, find ease and motivation again and get unstuck when it feels like you've lost your mojo. So we've been talking about goal setting and how to reach your goal.

One thing that it's very important to understand is that the way to reach your goal, it's going to be, to try to do things, test stuff until something works out. So there's no way around it. Basically when you, and you have an ambitious goal, when you don't know how to reach your ambitious goal, you're going to need to try different things.

The more things you try, the easier it will be for you to figure out what actually works. But you also means that the more chances you have of failing at a lot of things, or it's not even chances, it's a certainty that you're going to fail at a lot of things until you figure out what actually works. So if you want to succeed, you need to fail a lot.

You need to open up for doing a lot of stuff that doesn't work. So failure, it's a horrible word. Nobody likes to fail. We hate failure as human beings. Our wet dream is that we would try something we have never done before, and voilà! It works from the first time ever we try it. But that's not the way it works. You try something, and even if it turns out to be the thing that actually works, you're going to need to get better at it.

In most cases in 99% of the cases. But we sort of have this idea that, no, we should just try something and it works out or it's almost perfect. And we're just going to tweak it a little bit and then it will, it will function, right?

That's not the way it works. So in the startup world, for example, there is this idea of failing fast, which really means that in order for you to figure out what will work and what will be successful, you need to try tons of stuff, which means that you need to fail. And if every time you fail, if every time you test something, you try something and it doesn't work.

So it fails. You need to regroup and lick your wounds and take some time and feel better. Before you go ahead, it's going to take ages before you actually find what works. So this is why we talk about failing fast, because you just failed. You, you try something, you expect that in most cases it's going to fail.

And it, when it does what you do is you just figure out, if you can understand what didn't work in that thing. Sometimes you do understand things. Sometimes you don't understand anything, but you just try different things until you have enough data. Basically you have enough information so that you can figure out what works and what doesn't.

So to succeed, you need to open up for a lot of failure. Or to say it another way we hate failures, and so basically we are avoiding success when we are not opening up for failure. So today I wanted to do this episode to help you embrace failure and to help you go all in and try lots of different things. And I'm going to take a very pragmatic example so that you can follow what I'm explaining to you.

Many of you who come to talk to me and basically you're looking for a job and you're having a hard time finding the job that you like or finding a job at all. And when you talk to me, you tell me that you've tried everything and then nothing works and that it's now successful. And that you're just getting no after no after no, you're just getting turned down from all the interviews.

But when I asked very factually what you have tried, that the typical thing that I hear is that you tell me that you have sent 20 resumes. You had seven interviews and you got turned down seven times. And so nothing works. So sending out 20 interviews, sorry, sending out 20 resumes, it's amazing.

And going to seven interviews. Wonderful. But it's not enough. You're not looking at it from the big picture perspective. You're looking at every single time you're sending an interview, it feels like, okay, I'm sending in the interview. This time is going to be the right time. And then you get the answer.

Or sometimes you don't get an answer. And so your hopes are just crushed and then you have to lick your wounds and put yourself back into the saddle and then get to gather some energy to send another, or to write another application and to send it in. And the whole process just takes so much energy. And it's just so depressing.

Right. But because you're looking at each application as if this was the right one. You're not looking at the big picture. And the big picture is you need to look at the statistics of this. You need to look at what it will take in order for you to succeed. And I want to take an example in which we can calculate something, but in many cases you cannot calculate something and I'll show you also how to do that.

So what are the statistics of this job application? Well, you know that 7 out of 20, which is 35% of your applications turn into an interview. And so far, you don't have a success rate for interviews. You have been to seven interviews and you got seven nos. So you don't know how many interviews you need to do in order for you to get a yes or to get a job offer.

But so let's imagine what if interview number eight would turn out into a job offer. Then the statistics would be that one out of eight interviews turn out into a job offer. That's 12%. And if you would need to go to 14 interviews before you got your first job offer, that would be one in 14 is successful.

And so it would be like 7% success rate for interviews. And maybe there's other factors like, maybe that you don't want to just say yes to any job offer that you get. Maybe you're actually only interested in one job offer out of three. So let's say 33%. So some of the information you have, so for example, you know that you get seven interview out of 20 applications and some of the information you don't have, and there, you will just need to make an assumption.

And sometimes you don't even need to make an assumption. Take a random statistic. I'll show you later how to do the random ones. So let's do the math now for this job search. So 35% of applications turn into an interview. Let's assume that 7% of the interviews turn into a job offer.

And this number you can adjust when you have a real number. So for the time being, you need to continue doing many interviews. And for that, you need to send a lot of applications. And then let's say that you're interested in 33% of the offers you get. So it means that in order to get an offer that you actually like, that you would actually like to say yes to, the odds are 35% x 7% x 33%.

That's about 1%. So it means that you need to send a hundred applications to get one job offer that you actually want to say yes to. The point of doing this is, if you knew that from the start, what would you do differently? Like if you knew from the get-go that you will need to send a hundred application and you will need to go to 35 interviews in order for you to get three job offers out of which you're going to accept one;

if you knew that from the start, what would you do differently? So you need to place yourself as the person who has succeeded, looking back at what it took in order for you to get where you are today. So if you knew that at the end of the hundred applications, you're going to get this job that you really love, where you grow, where you learn, where you have fantastic colleagues, you have great pay, et cetera.

And if you knew that in order to get that perfect job, it would take sending hundreds of applications. Well, it wouldn't be such a big deal to be turned out from interview number seven. And it wouldn't be such a big deal to not receive an answer from application number 20, because you would know, okay. I'm just in the process and it will take a hundred applications and eventually I will prevail. What you will be thinking is every time you get turned down from an interview, instead of thinking, oh no, I got turned down.

I'm not good enough. This is not working, et cetera. You will just think, oh yes, great. I'm just a little bit closer to my goal. I know it will take a hundred. I am just at number 27 or whatever it is. And so it will take all these many more in order for me to reach my goal. You can see, I really suck at mental math in English.

I'm not very good in French, but in English, I really am bad at it. So I try to subtly disguise this by saying something like, "you know, all these many more interviews you need to go to", but you got me. Damn! So anyway, the thing you start to notice is that every single no that you get actually takes you closer to the yes that you want. Because every single no that you get it's just a number out of a hundred.

You just know, oh, now I am at number 27. Oh, now I am number at number 52. And you don't make it mean that it's a problem. You don't look at: "oh, no, I got 52 applications that were turned down". You just look at: "oh, there's 48 to go before I succeed". So it's a completely different thing.

You have an idea for how much effort you will need to expend. And so every single time you expand a unit of effort, it doesn't feel like a huge failure. It just feels like this is the normal process. If you knew that it would take a hundred application for you to get your dream job, you would want to get through all these 99 applications as quickly as bloody possible so that you can finally get to the number 100. You'd be pumped to send the 20 applications per week.

So that in a month, or in a few weeks, boom! You'd you'd have that job. So there are other factors, I'm aware. So how many ads are available for your particular type of work? I'm not being condescending. But if you wanted to answer 20 ads a week, you would get creative, you would find a way. You would brainstorm efficiently.

Actually, you know what? I'm going to do an episode on good brainstorming because that's such a key skill. And so many people are really bad at brainstorming ideas efficiently. Just a side note. So next episode, I'll talk about how to brainstorm efficiently ideas.

But what I'm trying to say basically is that, if you really wanted to go through 20 applications a week, because you want to get to that number 100 that you have identified is the target; you would be super creative. You would be super pumped and you would interpret the no's in a completely different way. Yes, it's hard to send out a hundred applications; and yes, it's hard to go to all of these interviews and to get turned down.

But do you want to succeed or don't you? It's not because it's hard that it's impossible. And by the way, it's because it's hard that you will love succeeding. Because the success will mean it will be huge success because it was difficult. If you would just take sending one application to get a job, you would not even enjoy having gotten the job.

But if it takes a hundred applications to get, I don't know how many interviews I didn't do the math 35 I think if I remember the percentage to get the job. If you have gone to 35 interviews in order for you to get the job, you will really enjoy saying yes, and you will really enjoy signing that contract.

And you will really love being in that job. The best way to succeed is to know that you're going to gather a lot of failures. So basically to say differently, it's to aim for failure because when you know from the start that is going to take a hundred nos or a 99 nos in order to get the one yes, you see it in a completely different perspective.

And besides when you do something a lot, you get better at it. It becomes easier. It becomes a routine. So instead of becoming a, instead of being a big deal to apply for a job, it becomes what you do the first thing in the morning. I mean, you brush your teeth and then you go and send in one new application.

It's no biggie. It's just what you do. And this is why you should always have an epic fail target. So an epic fail target as the name suggests, it's a target to fail in epic proportions. So you're not going to target to send in a few applications and get a job. You're going to target to fail a hundred times at getting a yes from an application.

So you're going to target getting a hundred nos. That's what you're going to aim for. And when you aim to get a hundred nos, what's happening is that you have very good chances of actually getting a yes that you really like. The way to define an epic fail target is that you're going to look a little bit at the thing that you're trying to do, and you're going to pick what's the most scary or uncomfortable or difficult, or maybe boring thing about your goal.

The thing that makes you reluctant actually to do it. So for example, in the example of looking for a job, what's the most difficult or the most scary is to go to interviews and to be turned down. Right. Being in an interview, it's a lot of effort.

It's a bit scary. People are judging you. So that's really the thing that you don't want. So that's going to be your epic fail, right? Your epic failure is going to be, you're going to want to have as many interviews as possible. And you're going to want specifically to be turned down at interviews because that's the scariest.

So your epic fail target is to for example, you're going to want to get turned down, I don't know, 200 times. Take a huge number. Because if your target is to get turned down 200 times, you're really going to ramp up the number of things you're going to try in order to get an interview, you're going to get creative and that's exactly what you want to do.

Just remember your brain wants you to stay in your comfort zone at all times. So it's going to be very reluctant to do the thing that will actually make you succeed. If you were going to interviews all the time, you understand that it would make your chances of actually getting some job offers much better, right?

Either just statistically; at some point somebody's bound to say yes. But also because by going to a lot of interviews, you're going to get really used to going through interviews. You're going to get better. The things that you say in interviews are going to get sharper. They're going to get more crisp.

You're going to learn how to present yourself in a better way. You're going to get much more at ease at having interviews, et cetera. So you're going to get much, much, much better. So if you do the thing that you're quite reluctant to do many, many times; your level of reluctance will go down until you're not reluctant anymore.

And until it's, you know, just any other Tuesday. Once you will have done it, tons of times, it will feel easy and you will have become the kind of person who delivers the goal. When you have gone to 35 interviews, you're very good at interviews. So you're the kind of person who is much better at acing interviews.

So this is where you want to have an epic fail target. You want to have a target that encapsulates the thing that you're most scared or most bored, or you find the most difficult about achieving your goal. And you want to aim to fail at this thing as many times as possible. And you need to put, to make that number very big.

So in the beginning, I told you that for some things you can calculate some sort of statistics of how many things you need to try in order for you to succeed. But for some things you have no idea. So for example, if you launched a company and you have a new product, it's like a technical product, and you have no idea how many different versions of it you are going to need to try in order for you to succeed.

Make that number ridiculously high. Don't spend hours calculating, you know, what the statistics of it is. Just pick a random, very high number. So imagine, for example, if you knew that you would need to do 1000 versions of your product before you get a massive hit, imagine how completely differently you will go about testing different versions of your product than it every single time you try it, you think, oh, this is the right one.

If you're trying to have a child, imagine if you knew that you will need to try for 14 months before you actually get a child, imagine how completely different you will go about it. You are in month number five, it's not a problem. You know that in month number 14, you will actually succeed.

Imagine if you're selling conferences. So for example, your job is making speeches in front of other people, motivational speech, for example, and you need to call companies and ask them if they would like to hire you so that you will come and make a presentation or a conference to their employees.

You're going to need to do a lot of cold calls, right? You're going to need you to call companies and say who you are, say what you do and ask them if they want to hire you. You got to get a lot of nos. So if you're thinking, okay, I need to get a yes. You're going to call one company. They are going to say no, you're going to feel depressed about it.

And then it's going to be very hard to call the second company and you're going to do it anyway. You're going to get a no again; you know, you're going to need an hour to motivate yourself to pick up the phone and have the third phone call and probably you will stop there. But if you know that it will take you, you need to call 20 companies every week in order for you to get a yes,

you will go through those 20 companies very quickly because your epic fail target is getting 20 nos per week. And so when you are at no number 12, instead of being completely depressed, you're like, yes, I'm almost halfway through only 8 to go and then I will have reached my epic fail target.

And you can reward yourself for reaching your epic fail, target. Right. It's a target. So it's fun when you reach it. It's cool. You celebrate. So the idea is of course you go all in every single time. So you, when you pick up the phone and you try to sell your services, you don't try to make a poor job so that you get a no, of course not.

You try to get a yes, you are serious about it. You try to do it as well as possible. But when you do get a no, you're excited about it because you're almost reaching your epic fail. I'll give you an example from my own life. Exactly a year ago, I started to date and I was quite sure that I would never find a guy that would be a, you know, a great partner for me.

I live in in a relatively small city compared to many of the cities I live in my life. It's quite small. I have a life where I have lived in many different countries. So I find it difficult to have an intimate relationship with somebody who has stayed in the same place forever. I am quite ambitious.

There's a lot of things that I like, and that I am. I am very feminist. There's a lot of things like that, which make it mean, in my head that it's very difficult to find a partner. And then of course I think that all the good guys are already taken, and I'm only attracted to bad boys, and all of these things.

So for me, I thought it would be really difficult to find somebody that I actually click with. So what I decided when I started to go on the online platforms and I started to date, I told myself, I would probably need to speak to 1,782 guys before I met the guy that it would work out with. So how did I come up with 1,782? I just picked it out out of thin air.

Basically, I just picked a number, any number, and I made it really big so that it would sound completely extreme. But it also sounded to me that if I speak to 1,782, I will probably find somebody that is interesting. Right? So I decided I need to have a conversation with 1,782 men on dating platforms.

And I gave myself a second epic fail target for the other part of the dating process that was really uncomfortable for me, which was to actually meet people. In the flesh. Like, you know, go for a walk or go for a coffee together. And so I set the second target and I said, okay. I will need to meet a hundred of those 1,782 in order for me to meet my future partner.

And so I wrote on a piece of paper, 1 7 8 2, and every single time I was having a conversation with somebody online, one of the men that I was contacting online, I put a strike across that number and I wrote the next number down. So 1,781, and then 1,780, et cetera. And this way it was super motivating because my job became to make that number go down as quickly as possible.

BEcause I knew, I was completely convinced that by the time I get to one or zero, I will have met my partner.

And I actually didn't need to talk to 1,782. I think I spoke to about 100 people before I actually met my partner and I didn't actually have to meet a hundred guys. I met seven I think. And I met this amazing man that I have been with, that I have been together with now for almost a year.

So the epic fail target is just amazing because it puts your energy in the right place. And when your energy is in the right place, then suddenly you try and you try and you try and you don't lose your motivation. It becomes fun. It becomes a challenge. And you keep your high energy engaged in every single thing that you're doing.

And this makes you try a lot of things. You test a lot of things. You're completely available to fail. And when you're available to fail: you succeed. My teacher says that the difference between success and failure is seven more failures. So go ahead and fail as much as you can, because that's the way you actually succeed.

If you found this episode helpful and you want to help the podcast, well, the best way is to share it with other people. So you can do that either by leaving a review on one of your listening platforms, or you can tip a friend about it. And I'm very grateful if you do. It helps me a lot. Thanks a lot for listening today.

And remember that even when you can't get yourself to do what you want; even when you're stuck in negative emotion and unpleasant thought loops. And even when you don't believe it, especially when you don't believe it: you're not broken. You're not flawed. And you're not jinxed. You're just learning how to be an excellent rider.

There's no bad horses. Only untrained riders.

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