Fail Fast, Fail Often was an inspiring book. I relate it to my own personal experience of changing careers and the apprehension in doing so. I was motivated to do so when my son switched careers after attending college and graduating with a Doctor of Pharmacy degree. He changed his career and created his own successful internet business – a career he always had a strong passion for and truly enjoys. As discussed in the book, and as his mother, I was certainly skeptical about such a career change. Had he not followed his passion he would still be doing a job that was not as fulfilling to him.
Babineaux and Krumboltz are psychologists and career counselors. The book draws on the authors’ research in human development and innovation. It provides how enthusiasm can guide you, how to act boldly and leverage your strengths even if you are afraid of failure. Happy and successful people go out into the world, try new things and make mistakes, and in doing so benefit from unexpected experiences and opportunities. The point of this book is to help you take action in your life by teaching the basics and how to get going and make things happen even if you may feel apprehensive, unprepared or afraid of failure. The authors are career counselors and educators. People who are happy and successful spent less time planning and more time acting. Simple techniques can provide powerful actions in your life and in your work to accomplish many things. They have helped people accomplish many things – start a business, write novels, form a research foundation, get married or lose 100 pounds. Not by making dramatic changes, but by making small changes to what they do. Advice on how to follow your interests, and trust your enthusiasm and let it guide you. Leverage your strengths for rapid change and specific steps to change your life.
Happiness tipping point. Mother Teresa quoted, “There is more hunger for love than bread.” We are all wired for joy; find the joy and it will burn out the pain. When people are unhappy they fixate on what makes them unhappy in their lives and can’t enjoy themselves until they escape their current problems. Many psychologists and counselors say you can’t make any major changes until you overcome your emotional hangups first – when the kids are done with college, when I’ll have more money, when I feel more confident, when my house is cleaned up. But ask yourself the following – what does your fun meter say? Take on the challenge of wearing the fun meter.
What action do you take the first day. Focus on opportunities not problems. When you drag your feet and focus on your bad habits you become blind to opportunities. Mindset of fixing all your problems before taking on new things, you will never get started. The best way to transform your life is encouragement to pursue what you enjoy. No matter what the circumstance, there is always something you can do and new experiences to be had. Spend more time enjoying yourself. If you want your life to change you have to take different actions.
Passionate action is smart action. Successful people make a habit of pursuing what they enjoy and take actions that are aligned with their passions. It makes them smarter by doing what they love and capitalize on opportunities. A sense of enjoyment makes people more productive. People with positive feelings think differently and are more adaptive in their thinking. People are most creative when engaged in work that is motivating and the work itself is of interest. The more positive a person is the more likely that person will be creative even the following day. Important opportunities and insights often result in pursuing one’s passion.
A long bike ride leads to a great idea. Another example how enjoying life can lead to a life changing experience is found in the story of Gary Erickson, the founder of Clif Bar. In 1990, Erickson was 33 years-old and living in an unheated garage. He earned very little money and spent most of his time rock climbing and long distance cycling. Erickson would go on long cycling trips and raced competitively in California. He was on a long ride with a group and they each packed six energy bars. They still had a long ways to go and had already eaten all six of their bars. Fortunately, they made it to a gas station. As they continued their ride, Erickson had an epiphany he would make an energy bar which was better than a Power Bar. Erickson co-owned a bakery in Berkeley, California, and he went to work experimenting with creating an energy bar. After six months of trials, he had an energy bar that was packed with nutrients and made with unprocessed ingredients and tasted like a cookie. Erickson handed them out at bike rides and the feedback was positive. In 1992, Erickson formally launched Clif Bar and the company was an instant success with more than $700,000 in sales its first year. His sales grew to 1.5 million dollars its third year, and more than 20 million dollars in 1997. By 2002, Erickson had turned down an offer to sell the company for 120 million dollars. Had it not been for riding with his friends, he never would have come up with Clif Bars. Erickson has also written a book about his success, Raising the Bar. His idea for Clif Bar is a great example of how enjoying life can lead to a life changing experience and opportunity.
The joyful tipping point. Mood and productivity are impacted by a person’s lack of sleep. Less than six hours a day and you will probably feel exhausted and have trouble concentrating. Make sure you get enough rest every night. Similarly, eat regular meals or your energy level will fall. The enjoyment you experience in your life is similar to rest and food – if you don’t have enough of it then your entire life will suffer. Successful people regulate their enjoyment just as carefully as they manage their sleep and intake of food. They organize their lives to engage in rewarding and pleasurable activities. How much joy do you need in your life. To have a well balanced life you need three positive experiences versus one negative experience.
Employee motivation and activity. Have the opportunity to make positive strides at work. Sustain motivation and performance will improve progress at work that is enjoyable and rewarding. Progress in small increments encourages self-worth and feeds motivation for increased production. The reason many people feel trapped is they spend too much time fussing over trivial things and not enough time working on things that matter to them.
Don’t let a day pass without having fun. Every day should include opportunities to enjoy pleasurable activities and make progress meaningful at work. It need not be anything exceptional but include some enjoyment daily. Enter into a mindset that is flexible, confident, hopeful and appreciative and be eager to act on them. When you experience deficiencies in moments of joy, you encourage a negative attitude and are less motivated and can see no end to your present situation. You will be too tired and blinded to act on any opportunity.