“I will try ..” is a path to failure
If the Pygmalion effect describes the dynamic in which an individual lives up to great expectations, the set-up-to-fail syndrome explains the opposite. It is the Golem effect. But I’d like to see it here from an own personal perspective: an internal view.
Why are we so afraid to fail? I think that a great cause of failure is one’s mindset, right from the beginning. We can sabotage ourselves before we even begin, afraid of failure or embarrassment. We are not sure of ourselves, exterior factors, the very conjuncture we can expect, it’s a new / unknown path, close to the limit or even pushing our comfort zone … so we get scared. Afraid we’ll fail.
We set up our mindset for failure, before even starting to do something. We say: “I’ll try …“, but leave a convenient way out – we already paved the way for failure just by considering it as a possibility. We got a backup plan, but all those who succeed almost never have a backup, it’s do or die. Then, how to succeed at anything when all we are doing along the way is to plan how to fail honourably, in a “failure was probable from the beginning anyway” endeavour.
It is okay to say AFTER the act that you gave it your best shot. But to say so BEFORE the act is to plan to fail!
Real motivation is lacking right from the beginning. Just don’t really feel like it, so we say I’ll try. We even convince ourselves that’s the case; but not really believing in our success.
We know failure hurts, so we prepare for it. We human beings protect ourselves without even being aware of it, so
- the failure is not assumed: it’s not ours. It was circumstances, or people around, lack of opportunity, resources, connections, parents’ status, luck, …
- “maybe I’m not capable / competent enough“, or the thing doesn’t worth it, so we don’t invest so much. It’s not our own goal as felt by now. We are not motivated and dispassionate.
And when we fail it is just reinforcing it all, confirming you were right all along, of not even worth trying. But you did it anyway, haven’t you? Who who’s to blame? Not you for sure. Now it’s NOT your own failure.
If there is no effort, there’s no way to succeed. Nothing worthwhile comes easily. So if you want something you better be prepared to put in the work for it. And better accept the possibility of failure, even welcome it. There is no better way to learn and improve than to fail. Success comes through rapidly fixing our mistakes rather than getting things right first time.
So don’t try: just do it!
Harvard Business Review – The Set-Up-To-Fail Syndrome
Quotes – Trying is failing
Other interesting stuff from Seth Godin:
– Challenging to fail – transcript here
People say online: