Why Screwing Upward is Very Different than Failure

The contemporary falsehood that to fail is somehow glamorous

 If you are inside Silicon Valley or any other culturally contemporary place, you will hear things “fail fast, fail often!” or “failure is my muse!” which is the kind of thing you absolutely do not need to hear whatsoever. The tech world’s obsession with failure is innocently designed to incite greater innovation and incubation of new ideas. At small scale, failure makes a lot of sense within that particular context but for most people, failing is a pretty awful plan, on purpose or by accident — it should be avoided at great cost.

Because in the real world, to fail has real consequences, but not the kind one might think. The consequences of failure are psychological traumas that prevent forward progress. In its worst, it can be such an excruciatingly painful experience that it can cause one to fall into a toxic depression and/or provide the impetus for a solid bender. Then there are the examples in the crypto markets of “crypto kings” literally committing suicide after the markets dropped. For many, they went from barely able to pay the bills (but thinking they were millionaires) to barely able to pay the bills (and no longer thinking they were millionaires). Needless to say, failure can be pretty miserable.

Failure is not an objective obstacle, it all comes down to mindset and self actualization as to what effects the failure will have.Instead of pretending like we live in Startup Land, it seems wise to take the ancient Chinese proverbial route. Let’s face it, the ancient Chinese people, from what the History Channel tells us, were pretty solid at understanding life, particularly when it went badly; insofar as it was the Buddha who brought us the mantra “life is suffering”.

Avoid screwing up, to avoid being screwed

The reason this Chinese proverbial is the Aspirin for failure is simply that I hate to procrastinate. When your brain fires on a screw up, it knows exactly what the deal is. Your brain can’t help but to then fire all types of ‘you fucked up chemicals’ like cortisol et al and your productivity drops down to the floor. This is why screwing up will land you on your couch, and should be avoided.

When I have been able to listen to it, there is ancient Chinese proverb which has given me some useful perspective, that I have needed to re-frame my brain so the screw-ups did not keep me from figuring out next steps — because there are always next steps.

Screwing upward 101

The parable of an ancient Chinese farmer goes like this: a farmer loses his horse. His neighbor says its terrible, but the farmer responds inscrutably: maybe so, maybe not.  The horse comes back and has attracted other horses, so now the farmer has an entire ranch full of horses and he’s pretty basically farmer rich. Read the full story here.

The point is pretty straightforward but bares mentioning because mindset really does matter. There are absolutely no setbacks in your life at the time of them occurring, because you have no clue what will come next. If you hadn’t missed one thing, you wouldn’t have found the other thing, and so on and so forth. At the time it occurs, we have absolutely no clue what will happen and yet we think to the worst. Instead of all that let’s re-frame it at the time and say maybe so, maybe not.

The point

When bitcoin crashes or you lose your horse, just stop and re-frame yourself. Worrying about the future will only serve to throw you straight into the procrastination zone, which essentially means your life is stalled out from moving forward. On the other hand, re-framing each mistake as an opportunity for some unknown positive, is much preferred. Keep it positive and forward momentum follows.