Hey there, little innovator you. How’s it going with taking over the world and making cool stuff and being creative (btw, thanks for not self-titling yourself a “creative”)?
I have humbly come before you today to discuss an idea that you have never heard of before. Prepare to be mesmerized by my amazing wit and charm and brilliance! Are you ready? If so, please donate $5 to my coffee fund (just kidding but I really do love coffee).
Here’s the idea: Failure is good for you.
Mind blowing, right?! I’m sure you’ve never heard of this and since this is your first time hearing such a mind blowing revelation, I’m going to take all the credit for it and you can catch my new book coming out in the fall of 2000andwhatever titled “Failure is Good: A Book about being Creative by a Creative.” I’ll sign copies in exchange for coffee.
Ok, fine. I know you’ve heard the idea that Failure is good for you and helpful and a part of the success process. Anyone alive in 2000andwhatever knows this. Failure isn’t the end of the world. But if you’re an aspiring successful human being, then sometimes it can feel like the end of the world. And failing can suck. And the suckage can hurt.
Along the path/journey/walk/adventure (insert your preference for life metaphor here), I learnt me somefin. I learned how to reduce the inflammation caused by failure and bloating (ok, just failure. Pepto bismol helps with the bloating).
On the exciting road of life and as you incubate ideas, opportunities, and your dreams, there’s something magical that will help with sting of failure and the exhaustion of trying to accomplish amazing things.
So now I shall introduce my original idea! Prepare to be amazed! The magical thing that lets you deal better with failure and mistakes is…(drum roll please…) MARGARINE!
What? The weird thing that is butter but it’s not butter? Andy, you’re being ridiculous.
Oh sorry! Did I say margarine? I meant MARGIN. Yeah that’s it. Margin!
Here’s the big idea: Have you created enough margin in your life for mistakes?
In the course of stepping out and chasing your big dreams and trying to change the world from your office/cubicle/kitchen table/etc, do you have enough margin to sustain you through your mistakes?
There are three specific areas I think that having margin for your mistakes is critical. Want to know them (of course you do or you would’ve gone and gotten a snack instead of reading this)?
Do you have enough time, money, and reputation left over for the mistakes you’re making?
Time Keeps Ticking Away – Woah! When did we get so busy? When did success and business become synonymous? When did the writers for Star Wars: The Force Awakens decide that closely paralleling Star Wars: A New Hope would be a great idea? These are the questions that keep me up at night!
One of the most important resources in life is time. What normally happens is one of two things when people have great ideas: they allow that idea to consume their time so much that they have little time for anything else OR they have a schedule that is already so full that they can’t devote any time to their idea.
Both are tragic. Because one leaves you obsessed then exhausted and the other leaves you stretched too thin then exhausted.
Here’s a thought: When is the last time you set aside time on a consistent basis to work on your project? Here’s a bigger thought: When is the last time you set aside time on a consistent basis to work on yourself?
It’s crazy to think but even if your project is widely successful, it won’t be the last project you do. You’ll move on to another project. But you can’t move on to another you. If you’re not intentional about developing the project that you are as a person, your external projects will always be capped/limited/struggle bussing it.
One of my favorite things is my weekly Friday afternoons and Saturday Mornings. Why? Cartoons of course. Jk. I miss those. I set aside 2 hours every Friday afternoon for professional development. I don’t work on my work. I work on my ability to do my work. I read books, listen to podcasts, and schedule meetings with big thinkers who do my job way better than I do. Sounds fun right? It’s actually brutal. But as brutal as it is, I like it because I’m actually creating margin in my time.
On Saturday mornings, I work on me. Internally. I write and process and examine my emotions, thoughts, beliefs, & heart. This is seriously brutal because it requires a great degree of candor and introspection. I normally get my spiritual adviser to help on these things but often time, It’s me, rolling up my sleeves, drinking a great cup of coffee, and jumping into the internal spaghetti & meatballs of my life.
What would it look like for you to have margin in your time? How would your project be different? How would your life be different? It’s worth a shot to find out.
If you don’t know how to make margin in your schedule, let me recommend a best selling book I wrote called “Just Say No.” (I haven’t actually written it yet but it’s gonna have a cool cover and every page will only have the word “No.” printed on it. You should buy it when it comes out. Support the coffee addiction. K thx.).
Moving on! If you can somehow find a way to make margin for your mistakes in your time, then this next one should be a breeze.
Mind on my Money & Money on my Mind – I love talking about money for a variety of reasons. I’m pretty passionate about it. Maybe because I like what you can do with money (like buy coffee).
Sadly, most people have the same problems with money that they do with their time. They are either stretched too thin and living paycheck to paycheck or they are obsessed over it and are too afraid to use it on something that potentially could possibly there’s small chance it might not work out.
Thankfully, similar to time, if you budget money for your projects and include some margin in there, you’ve just created your very own “Research & Development Department.” How cool is that? You’re now officially a mad scientist!
Just saying: What if you set aside a percentage of your income monthly just towards experimenting on your project? Wouldn’t that be awesome!
You can decide how much to spend on it but from experience, the laboratory of life is pretty fun to play in. In my profession, golf is a big deal. If you’re not golfing, you’re at a disadvantage when it comes to networking and connecting with other professionals in my field. So rather than swearing off golf as something I’ll never get into, I’ve been siphoning off money that goes directly into research & development (R&D). I’m going to buy a set of clubs and I may suck at golf but at least I’ll have the tools necessary to give me a fighting chance at being successful.
But Andy, what if you suck at golf? Great question! I probably will! I’ve barely played the sport. Very few people are amazing at stuff the first time they do it (I hate you if you are). For normal people, it takes a lot of balls in the water (mistakes) to be able to get good at the sport.
My margin for mistakes didn’t start with a golf club budget. It started with a book budget. I started by monthly setting aside money to buy books that could help me on developing my projects and developing myself.
Hold up. Let me say that again. I started by monthly setting aside money to buy books that could help me. Not even books that would help me. Books that will help you on your project aren’t R&D; they are manuals. I bought books that were risky. I bought a book about art, a magazine about film & photography, & a children’s book. And I liked them all but only the one about art really helped me. I didn’t see the other two as wasted money. I saw them as R&D. And I was glad I spent the money on them.
Do you have margin for your mistakes in your money (say that 5 times fast)? Even if you can only set aside $10 a month (that’s about 2-3 cups of coffee. I feel your pain), that would be a huge step on the way to developing your ability to successfully direct a functioning Research & Development Department.
Ok, best for last. Let’s talk about what most people are really afraid of losing. We lose time all the time. We sleep in a little bit longer or we Netflix binge a little too much. We get it. Hard things but nowhere near felonies on the scale of mistakes. And with money, we might blow a little money here or pass up a few opportunities because we are scared to spend the cash, I get it. Not the end of the world. But the thing that people are really afraid of losing when it comes to their mistakes isn’t time or money. It’s reputation.
Reputation for Greatness – I don’t want to make mistakes in my personal life or in my projects, not because of the cost of time or the cost of money. I’m really afraid of losing what really matters to me: people.
I’m afraid that my failures as a man will cause me to lose my wife and kids and friends. That my mistakes as an employee or boss will cause me to lose my job and my wife will leave me and take the kids to her mom’s because I can’t afford to keep the lights on. I’m afraid that the times when I get too angry and say things I don’t mean will cause my friends to stop inviting me to things and I’ll spend Friday nights alone forever. I’m afraid that this new business idea or non-profit I want to start will fall apart and I’ll lose people’s respect and they won’t listen to me or want to work with me ever again.
I’m afraid of losing people. Reputation is just a how people see you. And I’m afraid that my mistakes will cause people to only see the failures in me and not me.
That hurts. That’s real. Even as I typed this, I imagined all those things happening and I shuddered. I had to go get a cup of coffee just to calm down (mhmm Stumptown makes me feel better).
Thankfully, there’s hope. It’s completely different from time and money. But it does involve budgeting something. To give me margin for my mistakes when it comes to people, I do something weird. I budget people.
Not in a weird human trafficking way. I don’t pay people to be my friends or give me love. That wouldn’t actually be friendship or love. The way I budget people is pretty weird.
Here’s the question I want to ask you: Do you have people in your life that will be there for you even if you colossally mess up? Boom! That’s such a wild question!
Do you have people in your life that love you even though you’re not successful? Do you have people in your life that don’t want anything from you but just want things for you? Do you have a best friend that will stick with you no matter what? Seriously: No.Matter.What…
If you lost your job, do you have people that will put you up until you get back on your feet? If you got kicked out of school, do you have someone that will let you crash until you can figure out what to do with your life? Do you have a spouse that will stay with you no matter what? I know that’s a hard one. I recognize that some people will take this straight to cheating. What if they cheat? I believe that with all my heart cheating is grounds for divorce. But more importantly, it’s also ground for forgiveness. I’ve been cheated on. We weren’t married but it still hurt. I can’t imagine what it would be like in a marriage. But if there are conditions to your love, it’s not really love. It’s a contract and not a covenant.
Check this out. If you want to have the kind of people in your life that will stick with you no matter what, it’s going to require something. It’s going to require that you BE that person to them! If every time people mess up around you, do you still go to them? Do you call them and tell them that even though they screwed up, we are going to get through it together? Are you the kind of friend that will stick through with people no matter what?
Well if you are, congratulations! You have successfully learned how to budget people. It’s a weird way of saying it but you get the idea. If you want to be the kind of person that people stick with no matter what, you’ve got to be sticky. And that means sticking to people despite their mess.
I hope you’ve been encouraged. Not to dream and have projects and be a better person. I think we all innately want those things. I hope you’ve been encouraged to develop yourself. I hope after reading all of this, you’re more willing to take risks. And more than anything else, I really hope you’re more than ever, willing to stick with people no matter what and surround yourself with people that will stick with you no matter what.
Make time to develop yourself and your craft. Start your own personal R&D Department. And be the kind of person that sticks with people no matter what. Go get em, tiger…
In His Solution,