People fail at things literally every single second around the world. In the course of whatever day you’re reading this post, you probably failed at something. I’ve failed at something on the day I’m writing this. It’s probably the most commonplace aspect of our society in many respects — and ironically, we almost never discuss it openly. (It’s funny that the two things that basically explain all of human existence — sex and failure — are two things we really never like to talk about.)
Now, maybe you’ve seen the TV show Bar Rescue. Maybe you haven’t. If you can’t figure it out from the title of the show, it’s about a guy going around and fixing failing bars. The guy is Jon Taffer, who has something like 30+ years in the bar/hospitality industry.
The show can be a little over the top and Taffer screams a lot and sometimes drunk people slug each other or haul off and do something else that’s stupid, so it’s not for everyone. I used to watch it pretty religiously and then, for some reason (can’t even explain it), I stopped watching. I’ll still watch it on a rerun or whatever, but I don’t actively seek it out. I guess that’s neither here nor there.
What is here and there is that Taffer gave an interview to Forbes recently and had an interesting perception on failure.
Before we get into this, think of the context of how Taffer comes to encounter people who are failing:
- They own bars.
- Either they or someone close to them believes the bar is failing and needs to be “rescued.”
- Typically when someone owns a bar, it was (a) some version of a dream of theirs and (b) they probably invested a bunch of their own money in it.
- When you’ve poured your own money into something and it’s (presumably) something you wanted to do and yet you’re still failing, that’s a powerful form of failure.
- He’s done 83 episodes with failing bars. That’s across different cities, socioeconomic levels, etc.
Alright, so … knowing all that, here’s the quote:
In going through 83 failures, and with these types of people, I know what the common denominator of failure is; I figured it out: it is excuses. Let me explain to you what I mean. If you wake up tomorrow morning and say that your business is failing because of Obama, because of Congress, because of the recession, because of the construction industry, because of the euro, whatever the hell you come up with, you have no reason to change. But if you look in the mirror tomorrow morning and say, “I’m failing because of me,” you’re not going to like it, and then you have a reason to change. Nine out of ten people who are failing blame their failure on somebody else. And that is the common denominator of failure.
The common denominator of failure, then, is excuses.
There are a million and 11 ways to increase your productivity and move away from failure — you can “seek a Four-Way Win,” for example, or buy an app. You can put sneakers in front of your bedroom door to remind yourself that you need to work out tomorrow. But at the end of the day, every technique or tactic or idea you have will fall apart at the altar of making excuses about it.
Avoiding failure is a pretty simple idea, then — albeit a complex execution. Set a goal or a concept and just follow through with it in spite of the obstacles. Don’t give yourself excuses.