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Recommendations from Pocket Users

Nikki Will

Shared May 26, 2016

If something is not working, smart people don’t repeat it endlessly. They revise. They adjust. They pivot. They quit. As the saying goes, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Marcela Sapone

Shared August 8, 2016

Bezos referred to the failed projects by saying, “I’ve made billions of dollars of failures at Amazon.com. Literally billions.” 7

Ryan Spoon

Shared March 25, 2017

Too many entrepreneurs think if their first business idea is a failure, they aren’t cut out for it. Too many artists assume that if their early work doesn’t get praised, they don’t have the skill required.

Jacqui Maher

Shared May 31, 2016

Life requires both strategies. Sometimes you need to display unwavering confidence and double down on your efforts. Sometimes you need to abandon the things that aren’t working and try something new. The key question is: how do you know when to give up and when to stick with it?

Jemila Abdulai

Shared April 24, 2017

There are three primary ways to fix Failures of Tactics.

Record your process.
Measure your outcomes.
Review and adjust your tactics

Given Edward

Shared October 22, 2016

Avoid these mistakes to run a good project and create a successful enterprise. The lessons in this article are true for entrepreneurs as they are for leadership in different aspects of life that you dedicate time to.

Jayesh Sidhwani

Shared December 28, 2016

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results

Paulo Ribeiro

Shared May 25, 2016

You don’t need to apologize for the things you love, but you do have to learn how to deal with haters.

Junya Ogura

Shared January 5, 2017

One way to answer this question is to use a framework I call the 3 Stages of Failure.

Jason Toney

Shared May 6, 2018

how do you know when to give up and when to stick with it?

Andy McIlwain

Shared September 3, 2017

The faster you test a strategy in the real world, the faster you get feedback on whether or not it works.

Son Tran

Shared May 25, 2016

A lot of wisdom you probably read somewhere now concentrated in a pyramid graph. Great reminder.

Leonika Sari

Shared July 7, 2016

How do you know when to give up and when to stick with it?

Martin Soler

Shared January 20, 2017

A brilliant analysis of moving on and how to that best. Should be mandatory reading for people working with software engineering.

One of the hardest things in life is to know when to keep going and when to move on.

Gav MOK

Shared May 29, 2016

fail

Milan Pichlík

Shared June 25, 2016

Most of the mistakes that people assume are Failures of Vision are actually Failures of Strategy.

hieu truong

Shared June 4, 2017

Launch it quickly. Some ideas work much better than others, but nobody really knows which ideas work until you try them. Nobody knows ahead of time—not venture capitalists, not the intelligent folks at Amazon, not your friends or family members. All of the planning and research and design is just pretext. I love Paul Graham’s take on this: “You haven't really started working on [your idea] till you've launched.”

Because of this, it is critical to launch strategies quickly. The faster you test a strategy in the real world, the faster you get feedback on whether or not it works.

hieu truong

Shared June 4, 2017

Too many entrepreneurs think if their first business idea is a failure, they aren’t cut out for it. Too many artists assume that if their early work doesn’t get praised, they don’t have the skill required. Too many people believe if their first two or three relationships are bad, they will never find love.

Imagine if the forces of nature worked that way. What if Mother Nature only gave herself one shot at creating life? We’d all just be single-celled organisms. Thankfully, that’s not how evolution works. For millions of years, life has been adapting, evolving, revising, and iterating until it has reached the diverse and varied species that inhabit our planet today. It is not the natural course of things to figure it all out on the first try.

So if your original idea is a failure and you feel like you’re constantly revising and adjusting, cut yourself a break. Changing your strategy is normal. It is literally the way the world works. You have to stay on the bus.

Olaniyan Ayomide

Shared 5 days ago

I strongly advise you check this out.

Kevin Holmen

Shared May 5, 2018

you might not be walking the wrong path after all. It's just that there is so much dust swirling around you that you can't see the path. Figure out the right tactics and strategy—clear the dust from the air—and you'll find that the vision often reveals itself.

Craig Bailey

Shared December 24, 2016

Insightful

Dejan Strbad

Shared September 25, 2017

try.

Akash Parikh

Shared August 24, 2016

Great framework for thinking about failure.

Tushar Nagananda

Shared February 26, 2017

much needed read.

Divyanshu Nigam

Shared December 18, 2016

Brilliant !

Alfredo Fialho

Shared December 21, 2016

Fixing a Failure of Tactics is not a one time job, it is a lifestyle.

Ali Ishaq

Shared January 5, 2018

Lots of good stuff about typical types of personal and organizational failures and how to fix them. Examples incl. @amazon & #RalphWaldoEmerson

Dave Sroka

Shared June 13, 2016

I feel like I should re-read this once per week.

Wejdan S.

Shared August 10, 2016

It deserves to be read 💙

Ambrose Ochieno

Shared January 18, 2018

On the other hand, telling someone to never give up is terrible advice. Successful people give up all the time. If something is not working, smart people don’t repeat it endlessly. They revise. They adjust. They pivot. They quit. As the saying goes, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” 1

Nemanja Aleksić

Shared January 25, 2018

Vision, strategy or tactics: where do you fail?

Omair Ahmed

Shared May 30, 2016

This needs to be read and reread until it sinks in

Arun Verma

Shared February 3, 2017

The 3 Stages of Failure in Life and Work #productivity #research #resilience #success #failure

Yew Wai Kong

Shared May 28, 2016

On point

Jorge Lopez Diaz de Leon

Shared July 3, 2016

Today, Centratel has grown to nearly 60 employees and recently celebrated its 30th year in business. Carpenter now works just two hours per week.

Jorge Lopez Diaz de Leon

Shared July 3, 2016

There are three primary ways to fix Failures of Tactics.

Record your process.
Measure your outcomes.
Review and adjust your tactics.

Mohit Jhawar

Shared August 15, 2016

Beautifully categorizes various challenges encountered at work/ profession/life in genral. The brilliant root cause analysis provides pretty good insights. I could related to each of HOW, WHAT, and WHY problems.

Avinash Koul

Shared August 31, 2016

fixing the failure

Zach Alig

Shared January 6, 2017

A well articulated model, explained through interesting examples from three very different people's lives. Recommended.

Nadia Woodhouse

Shared February 10, 2017

Great way to think about your next project... Launch quickly and cheaply and then revise often. Tactics, Strategy, Vision.

“You haven’t really started working on [your idea] till you’ve launched.”

Stephen Slater

Shared December 26, 2017

This was a really insightful read. It wasn't the same old "failure is good B.S." and more of a breakdown of 3 types of failure and actionable things you can do when you fail.

Mukom Akong T.

Shared August 17, 2016

Simply amazing

Gaurav Verma

Shared January 5, 2017

Must read for everyone in this planet.

Thanesh Ram

Shared February 24, 2017

something to consider

Steph Daboub

Shared April 26, 2017

you'll often find yourself living som

Ajinkya Limaye

Shared April 14, 2018

If something is not working, smart people don’t repeat it endlessly. They revise. They adjust. They pivot. They quit.

Ken Miller

Shared May 30, 2016

Great post from James Clear.

Reuben Chahilu

Shared July 22, 2016


Dayana Menezes

Shared July 26, 2016

Excelente reflexion

egi comzone

Shared August 7, 2016

The 3 Stages of Failure in Life and Work (And How to Fix Them)

egi comzone

Shared August 7, 2016

One of the hardest things in life is to know when to keep going and when to move on

egi comzone

Shared August 7, 2016

perseverance and grit are key to achieving success in any field

egi comzone

Shared August 7, 2016

On the other hand, telling someone to never give up is terrible advice

egi comzone

Shared August 7, 2016

Successful people give up all the time. If something is not working, smart people don’t repeat it endlessly

egi comzone

Shared August 7, 2016

They revise. They adjust. They pivot. They quit.

egi comzone

Shared August 7, 2016

As the saying goes, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” 1

egi comzone

Shared August 7, 2016

Life requires both strategies. Sometimes you need to display unwavering confidence and double down on your efforts.

egi comzone

Shared August 7, 2016

Sometimes you need to abandon the things that aren’t working and try something new

egi comzone

Shared August 7, 2016

The key question is: how do you know when to give up and when to stick with it?

egi comzone

Shared August 7, 2016

The 3 Stages of Failure

egi comzone

Shared August 7, 2016

Stage 1 is a Failure of Tactics. These are HOW mistakes

egi comzone

Shared August 7, 2016

They occur when you fail to build robust systems, forget to measure carefully, and get lazy with the details.

egi comzone

Shared August 7, 2016

Failure of Tactics is a failure to execute on a good plan and a clear vision.

egi comzone

Shared August 7, 2016

Stage 2 is a Failure of Strategy. These are WHAT mistakes

egi comzone

Shared August 7, 2016

They occur when you follow a strategy that fails to deliver the results you want

egi comzone

Shared August 7, 2016

You can know why you do the things you do and you can know how to do the work, but still choose the wrong what to make it happen.

egi comzone

Shared August 7, 2016

Stage 3 is a Failure of Vision. These are WHY mistakes

egi comzone

Shared August 7, 2016

They occur when you don’t set a clear direction for yourself,

egi comzone

Shared August 7, 2016

follow a vision that doesn’t fulfill you, or otherwise fail to understand why you do the things you do.

egi comzone

Shared August 7, 2016

We were having all kinds of problems because everybody was doing it the way that they thought was best.”

egi comzone

Shared August 7, 2016

Fixing a Failure of Tactics

A Failure of Tactics is a HOW problem.

egi comzone

Shared August 7, 2016

In Centratel’s case, they had a clear vision (to be “the highest-quality telephone answering service in the United States”)

egi comzone

Shared August 7, 2016

but they didn’t know how to execute their strategy and vision.

egi comzone

Shared August 7, 2016

Record your process.
Measure your outcomes.
Review and adjust your tactics.

egi comzone

Shared August 7, 2016

Because they have killer systems in place for every process

egi comzone

Shared August 7, 2016

building great systems is crucial for repeated success.

egi comzone

Shared August 7, 2016

If you never measure your results, how will you know which tactics are working? 4

egi comzone

Shared August 7, 2016

The fatiguing thing about Stage 1 failures is that they never stop.

egi comzone

Shared August 7, 2016

Tactics that used to work will become obsolete

egi comzone

Shared August 7, 2016

Tactics that were a bad idea previously might be a good idea now

egi comzone

Shared August 7, 2016

You need to be constantly reviewing and improving how you do your work

egi comzone

Shared August 7, 2016

Successful people routinely give up on tactics that don’t move their strategy and vision forward.

egi comzone

Shared August 7, 2016

Fixing a Failure of Tactics is not a one time job, it is a lifestyle.

egi comzone

Shared August 7, 2016

Stage 2: A Failure of Strategy

egi comzone

Shared August 7, 2016

Amazon Auctions was a spectacular failure. Just six months after launch, management realized the project was going nowhere

egi comzone

Shared August 7, 2016

In September 1999, they scrambled to release a new offering called Amazon zShops

egi comzone

Shared August 7, 2016

Failure of Strategy is a WHAT problem

egi comzone

Shared August 7, 2016

Amazon had a clear vision to “be earth’s most customer centric company

egi comzone

Shared August 7, 2016

They were also masters of getting things done, which is why they were able to roll Amazon Auctions out in just three months

egi comzone

Shared August 7, 2016

The why and how were handled, but the what was unknown.

egi comzone

Shared August 7, 2016

There are three primary ways to fix Failures of Strategy.

Launch it quickly.
Do it cheaply.
Revise it rapidly.

egi comzone

Shared August 7, 2016

Some ideas work much better than others, but nobody really knows which ideas work until you try them

egi comzone

Shared August 7, 2016

love Paul Graham’s take on this: “You haven’t really started working on [your idea] till you’ve launched.”

egi comzone

Shared August 7, 2016

The faster you test a strategy in the real world, the faster you get feedback on whether or not it works.

egi comzone

Shared August 7, 2016

Amazon Auctions was released in March 1999. Amazon zShops was released in September 1999. Amazon Marketplace was released in November 2000. Three huge attempts within 20 months.

egi comzone

Shared August 7, 2016

is best to test new strategies cheaply. Failing cheaply increases your surface area for success because it means that you can test more ideas.

egi comzone

Shared August 7, 2016

It reduces your attachment to a particular idea

egi comzone

Shared August 7, 2016

If you invest a lot of time and money into a particular strategy, it will be hard to give it up on that strategy.

egi comzone

Shared August 7, 2016

The more energy you put into something, the more ownership you feel toward it.

egi comzone

Shared August 7, 2016

Bad business ideas, toxic relationships, and destructive habits of all kinds can be hard to let go once they become part of your identity.

egi comzone

Shared August 7, 2016

Testing new strategies cheaply avoids these pitfalls and increases the likelihood that you will follow the strategy that works best rather than the one you have invested in the most.

egi comzone

Shared August 7, 2016

Strategies are meant to be revised and adjusted.

egi comzone

Shared August 7, 2016

You’d be hard pressed to find a successful entrepreneur, artist, or creator who is doing exactly the same thing today as when they started

egi comzone

Shared August 7, 2016

Starbucks sold coffee supplies and espresso machines for over a decade before opening their own stores.

egi comzone

Shared August 7, 2016

37 Signals started as a web design firm before pivoting into a software company that is worth over $100M today.

egi comzone

Shared August 7, 2016

Nintendo made playing cards and vacuum cleaners before it stole the hearts of video game lovers everywhere. 10

egi comzone

Shared August 7, 2016

Too many entrepreneurs think if their first business idea is a failure,

egi comzone

Shared August 7, 2016

Too many people believe if their first two or three relationships are bad, they will never find love.

egi comzone

Shared August 7, 2016

Imagine if the forces of nature worked that way. What if Mother Nature only gave herself one shot at creating life?

egi comzone

Shared August 8, 2016

Fixing a Failure of Vision

egi comzone

Shared August 8, 2016

your vision or goal for what you want to become (your why) doesn’t align with the actions you are taking.

egi comzone

Shared August 8, 2016

three primary ways to fix Failures of Vision.

egi comzone

Shared August 8, 2016

Take stock of your life.
Determine your non-negotiable.
Navigate criticism.

egi comzone

Shared August 8, 2016

Many people prefer to go-with-the-flow and take life as it comes.

egi comzone

Shared August 8, 2016

theory, that’s just fine. But in practice, there is a problem:

If you never decide on a vision for your life, you’ll often find yourself living someone else’s dream.

egi comzone

Shared August 8, 2016

Adopting someone else’s vision as your own—whether it be from family, friends, celebrities, your boss, or society as a whole—is unlikely to lead to your personal dream. Your identity and your habits need to be aligned.

egi comzone

Shared August 8, 2016

Determine your non-negotiable. Your “non-negotiable” is the one thing you are not willing to budge on,

egi comzone

Shared August 8, 2016

Be firm on the vision, not on this particular version of your idea.

egi comzone

Shared August 8, 2016

Be firm on the vision, not on this particular version of your idea

egi comzone

Shared August 8, 2016

Jeff Bezos has said, “We are stubborn on vision. We are flexible on details.”

egi comzone

Shared August 8, 2016

Most of the mistakes that people assume are Failures of Vision are actually Failures of Strategy

egi comzone

Shared August 8, 2016

You don’t need to apologize for the things you love, but you do have to learn how to deal with haters.

egi comzone

Shared August 8, 2016

The 4th Stage of Failure

There is a 4th stage of failure that we haven’t talked about: Failures of Opportunity.

egi comzone

Shared August 8, 2016

Failures of Opportunity.

egi comzone

Shared August 8, 2016

Failures of Opportunity are the result of many complex factors: age, race, gender, income, education, and more.

egi comzone

Shared August 8, 2016

thousands of men my age living in the slums of India or the streets of Bangladesh who are more intelligent and more talented than I am, but we live very different lives largely because of the opportunities presented to us.

egi comzone

Shared August 8, 2016

However, I chose not to focus on them here because Failures of Opportunity are difficult to influence.

egi comzone

Shared August 8, 2016

Final Note on Failure

Hopefully, the 3 Stages of Failure framework has helped you clarify

egi comzone

Shared August 8, 2016

One thing that may not be apparent at first glance is how the different stages can impact one another.

egi comzone

Shared August 8, 2016

One thing that may not be apparent at first glance is how the different stages can impact one another.

egi comzone

Shared August 8, 2016

Failures of Tactics can occasionally create enough havoc that you mistakenly believe you have a Failure of Vision.

egi comzone

Shared August 8, 2016

Imagine how Sam Carpenter felt when he was working 100 hours per week.

egi comzone

Shared August 8, 2016

would have been easy to assume that his vision of being an entrepreneur was the failure when, in fact

egi comzone

Shared August 8, 2016

was merely poor tactics causing the problem

egi comzone

Shared August 8, 2016

Sometimes you need a few tactics to create enough whitespace to figure out your strategy or vision

egi comzone

Shared August 8, 2016

This is why I write about things like how to manage your daily routine and how to figure out your priorities and why multitasking is a myth

egi comzone

Shared August 8, 2016

Figure out the right tactics and strategy—clear the dust from the air—and you’ll find that the vision often reveals itself.

Kirk Won

Shared December 19, 2016

@Pocket suggested this interesting read

Shawn Ward

Shared January 29, 2017

Great piece on learning to lean into to failure and learn from it.

Milan Rybovic

Shared February 5, 2017

Over the next two years, Carpenter recorded and revised every process in the company. How to make a sales presentation. How to deposit a check. How to pay client invoices. How to process payroll. He created a manual that any employee could pick up and follow for any procedure within the company—system by system, step by step.

Milan Rybovic

Shared February 5, 2017

There are three primary ways to fix Failures of Strategy.

Launch it quickly.
Do it cheaply.
Revise it rapidly.
Launch it quickly. So

James Grant

Shared April 16, 2017

Good read, going to make this into a checklist / framework for work!

"The 3 Stages of Failure
This framework helps clarify things by breaking down challenges into three stages of failure:

Stage 1 is a Failure of Tactics. These are HOW mistakes. They occur when you fail to build robust systems, forget to measure carefully, and get lazy with the details. A Failure of Tactics is a failure to execute on a good plan and a clear vision.
Stage 2 is a Failure of Strategy. These are WHAT mistakes. They occur when you follow a strategy that fails to deliver the results you want. You can know why you do the things you do and you can know how to do the work, but still choose the wrong what to make it happen.
Stage 3 is a Failure of Vision. These are WHY mistakes. They occur when you don't set a clear direction for yourself, follow a vision that doesn't fulfill you, or otherwise fail to understand why you do the things you do."

Anton Melekh

Shared July 30, 2017

Record your process. McDonald's has more than 35,000 locations worldwide. Why can they plug-and-play new employees while still delivering a consistent product? Because they have killer systems in place for every process. Whether you're running a business, parenting a family, or managing your own life, building great systems is crucial for repeated success. It all starts with writing down each specific step of the process and developing a checklist you can follow when life gets crazy.

Anton Melekh

Shared July 30, 2017

There are nearly infinite ways to achieve your vision if you are willing to be flexible on the details.

捷 李

Shared August 26, 2017

literally the way the world works. You have to stay on the bus.

Daniel Garnier

Shared September 10, 2017

Determine your non-negotiable. Your “non-negotiable” is the one thing you are not willing to budge on, no matter what. One common mistake is to make the non-negotiable your strategy, when it should be your vision. It's very easy to get fixated on your idea. But if you're going to get obsessed with something, get obsessed with your vision, not your idea. Be firm on the vision, not on this particular version of your idea.

Gordon Lincoln

Shared December 31, 2017

Sometimes things that appear to be common sense are very obvious but not commonly followed. Quite a bit more in depth then your average self help puff piece and worth a read

Patrick Roe

Shared January 30, 2018

knows

Brian Galgay

Shared June 15, 2018

Great line:
Be firm on the vision, not on this particular version of your idea. Jeff Bezos has said, “We are stubborn on vision. We are flexible on details.

Be firm on the vision, not on this particular version of your idea. Jeff Bezos has said, “We are stubborn on vision. We are flexible on details.

Cory Beal

Shared May 28, 2016

Contains a great story about why systems and standards are great for business.

Aretas Kisielius

Shared June 26, 2016

For business. For communicators. For postmodern professionals.

Kevin Gilds

Shared July 30, 2016

Interesting read

lsaffie Saffie

Shared August 14, 2016

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” 1

lsaffie Saffie

Shared August 14, 2016

The 3 Stages of Failure

This framework helps clarify things by breaking down challenges into three stages of failure:

Stage 1 is a Failure of Tactics. These are HOW mistakes. They occur when you fail to build robust systems, forget to measure carefully, and get lazy with the details. A Failure of Tactics is a failure to execute on a good plan and a clear vision.
Stage 2 is a Failure of Strategy. These are WHAT mistakes. They occur when you follow a strategy that fails to deliver the results you want. You can know why you do the things you do and you can know how to do the work, but still choose the wrong what to make it happen.
Stage 3 is a Failure of Vision. These are WHY mistakes. They occur when you don’t set a clear direction for yourself, follow a vision that doesn’t fulfill you, or otherwise fail to understand why you do the things you do.

lsaffie Saffie

Shared August 14, 2016

There are three primary ways to fix Failures of Tactics.

Record your process.
Measure your outcomes.
Review and adjust your tactics.

lsaffie Saffie

Shared August 14, 2016

Fixing a Failure of Strategy

A Failure of Strategy is a WHAT problem. By 1999, Amazon had a clear vision to “be earth’s most customer centric company.” They were also masters of getting things done, which is why they were able to roll Amazon Auctions out in just three months. The why and how were handled, but the what was unknown.

There are three primary ways to fix Failures of Strategy.

Launch it quickly.
Do it cheaply.
Revise it rapidly.

lsaffie Saffie

Shared August 14, 2016

Fixing a Failure of Vision

A Failure of Vision is a WHY problem. They happen because your vision or goal for what you want to become (your why) doesn’t align with the actions you are taking.

There are three primary ways to fix Failures of Vision.

Take stock of your life.
Determine your non-negotiable.
Navigate criticism.

Joven Lastiere

Shared September 4, 2016

One of the hardest things in life is to know when to keep going and when to move on.

Ahmad Munjin

Shared December 19, 2016

Persevere and analyse cold-headedly. When it comes to vision, it's a non-negotiable matter.

aman awish

Shared January 20, 2017

Thanks for nice article....like this article to learn and to learn a thinking.

Esparta Palma

Shared January 25, 2017

Uso y recomiendo.

Mohammad Barrak

Shared February 4, 2017

pivot

Ai Ling Chia

Shared February 8, 2017

A good read.

Tomek Legutko

Shared February 17, 2017

"Measure your outcomes. If something is important to you, measure it. If you’re an entrepreneur, measure how many sales calls you make each day. If you’re a writer, measure how frequently you publish a new article. If you’re a weightlifter, measure how often you train. If you never measure your results, how will you know which tactics are working? 4"

Fria Mae Trajano

Shared February 18, 2017

Worth it to read..

88 pocket2013

Shared February 25, 2017

There are three primary ways to fix Failures of Vision.

Take stock of your life.
Determine your non-negotiable.
Navigate criticism.

Ugur Aridogan

Shared June 17, 2017

The 3 Stages of Failure
This framework helps clarify things by breaking down challenges into three stages of failure:

Stage 1 is a Failure of Tactics. These are HOW mistakes. They occur when you fail to build robust systems, forget to measure carefully, and get lazy with the details. A Failure of Tactics is a failure to execute on a good plan and a clear vision.
Stage 2 is a Failure of Strategy. These are WHAT mistakes. They occur when you follow a strategy that fails to deliver the results you want. You can know why you do the things you do and you can know how to do the work, but still choose the wrong what to make it happen.
Stage 3 is a Failure of Vision. These are WHY mistakes. They occur when you don't set a clear direction for yourself, follow a vision that doesn't fulfill you, or otherwise fail to understand why you do the things you do.
In the rest of this article, I’ll share a story, solution, and summary for each stage of failure. My hope is that the 3 Stages of Failure framework will help you navigate the tricky decision of deciding when to quit and when to stick with it. It's not perfect, but I hope you find it to be useful.

Before we talk about how to get started, I wanted to let you know I researched and compiled science-backed ways to stick to good habits and stop procrastinating. Want to check out my insights? Download my free PDF guide “Transform Your Habits” here.



Stage 1: A Failure of Tactics
Sam Carpenter became a small business owner in 1984. Using $5,000 as a down payment, he purchased a struggling business in Bend, Oregon and renamed it Centratel.

Centratel provided 24/7 telephone answering service for doctors, veterinarians, and other businesses that needed the phones to be answered at all hours, but couldn't afford to pay a staff member to sit at the desk constantly. When he bought the business, Carpenter hoped that Centratel “would someday be the highest-quality telephone answering service in the United States.”

Things did not go as expected. In a 2012 interview, Carpenter described his first decade and a half of entrepreneurship by saying,

“I was literally working 80 to 100 hours a week for 15 years. I was a single parent of two kids, believe it or not. I was very sick. I was on all kinds of antidepressants and so forth…

I was going to miss a payroll and lose my entire company. If you can just imagine a nervous wreck, physical wreck, and then multiply that by ten, that’s what I was. It was a horrible time.”

One night, just before he was about to miss payroll, Carpenter had a realization. His business was struggling because it completely lacked the systems it needed to achieve optimal performance. In Carpenter’s words, “We were having all kinds of problems because everybody was doing it the way that they thought was best.”

Carpenter reasoned that if he could perfect his systems, then his staff could spend each day following best practices instead of constantly putting out fires. He immediately began writing down every process within the business.

“For instance,” he said. “We have a nine-step procedure for answering the phone at the front desk. Everybody does it that way, it’s 100% the best way to do it, and we’ve taken an organic system and made it mechanical, and made it perfect.”

Over the next two years, Carpenter recorded and revised every process in the company. How to make a sales presentation. How to deposit a check. How to pay client invoices. How to process payroll. He created a manual that any employee could pick up and follow for any procedure within the company—system by system, step by step.

What happened?

Carpenter’s workweek rapidly decreased from 100 hours per week to less than 10 hours per week. He was no longer needed to handle every emergency because there was a procedure to guide employees in each situation. As the quality of their work improved, Centratel raised their prices and the company's profit margin exploded to 40 percent.

Today, Centratel has grown to nearly 60 employees and recently celebrated its 30th year in business. Carpenter now works just two hours per week.

Fixing a Failure of Tactics
A Failure of Tactics is a HOW problem. In Centratel's case, they had a clear vision (to be “the highest-quality telephone answering service in the United States”) and a good strategy (the market for telephone answering services was large), but they didn't know how to execute their strategy and vision.

There are three primary ways to fix Failures of Tactics.

Record your process.
Measure your outcomes.
Review and adjust your tactics.
Record your process. McDonald's has more than 35,000 locations worldwide. Why can they plug-and-play new employees while still delivering a consistent product? Because they have killer systems in place for every process. Whether you're running a business, parenting a family, or managing your own life, building great systems is crucial for repeated success. It all starts with writing down each specific step of the process and developing a checklist you can follow when life gets crazy.

Measure your outcomes. If something is important to you, measure it. If you’re an entrepreneur, measure how many sales calls you make each day. If you’re a writer, measure how frequently you publish a new article. If you’re a weightlifter, measure how often you train. If you never measure your results, how will you know which tactics are working?

Review and adjust your tactics. The fatiguing thing about Stage 1 failures is that they never stop. Tactics that used to work will become obsolete. Tactics that were a bad idea previously might be a good idea now. You need to be constantly reviewing and improving how you do your work. Successful people routinely give up on tactics that don't move their strategy and vision forward. Fixing a Failure of Tactics is not a one time job, it is a lifestyle.

Stage 2: A Failure of Strategy
It was March of 1999. Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, had just announced that his company would launch a new service called Amazon Auctions to help people sell “virtually anything online.” The idea was to create something that could compete with eBay. Bezos knew there were millions of people with goods to sell and he wanted Amazon to be the place where those transactions happened.

Greg Linden, a software engineer for Amazon at the time, recalled the project by saying, “Behind the scenes, this was a herculean effort. People from around the company were pulled off their projects. The entire Auctions site, with all the features of eBay and more, was built from scratch. It was designed, architected, developed, tested, and launched in under three months.”

Amazon Auctions was a spectacular failure. Just six months after launch, management realized the project was going nowhere. In September 1999, they scrambled to release a new offering called Amazon zShops. This version of the idea allowed anyone from big companies to individuals to set up an online shop and sell goods through Amazon.

Again, Amazon swung and missed. Neither Amazon Auctions nor Amazon zShops are running today. In December 2014, Bezos referred to the failed projects by saying, “I’ve made billions of dollars of failures at Amazon.com. Literally billions.”

Undaunted, Amazon tried yet again to create a platform for third-party sellers. In November 2000, they launched Amazon Marketplace, which allowed individuals to sell used products alongside Amazon's new items. For example, a small bookstore could list their used textbooks directly alongside new ones from Amazon.

It worked. Marketplace was a runaway success. In 2015, Amazon Marketplace accounted for nearly 50 percent of the $107 billion in sales on Amazon.com.

Fixing a Failure of Strategy
A Failure of Strategy is a WHAT problem. By 1999, Amazon had a clear vision to “be earth’s most customer centric company.” They were also masters of getting things done, which is why they were able to roll Amazon Auctions out in just three months. The why and how were handled, but the what was unknown.

There are three primary ways to fix Failures of Strategy.

Launch it quickly.
Do it cheaply.
Revise it rapidly.
Launch it quickly. Some ideas work much better than others, but nobody really knows which ideas work until you try them. Nobody knows ahead of time—not venture capitalists, not the intelligent folks at Amazon, not your friends or family members. All of the planning and research and design is just pretext. I love Paul Graham’s take on this: “You haven't really started working on [your idea] till you've launched.”

Because of this, it is critical to launch strategies quickly. The faster you test a strategy in the real world, the faster you get feedback on whether or not it works. Note the timeline Amazon operated on: Amazon Auctions was released in March 1999. Amazon zShops was released in September 1999. Amazon Marketplace was released in November 2000. Three huge attempts within 20 months.

Do it cheaply. Assuming you have achieved some minimum level of quality, it is best to test new strategies cheaply. Failing cheaply increases your surface area for success because it means that you can test more ideas. Additionally, doing things cheaply serves another crucial purpose. It reduces your attachment to a particular idea. If you invest a lot of time and money into a particular strategy, it will be hard to give it up on that strategy. The more energy you put into something, the more ownership you feel toward it. Bad business ideas, toxic relationships, and destructive habits of all kinds can be hard to let go once they become part of your identity. Testing new strategies cheaply avoids these pitfalls and increases the likelihood that you will follow the strategy that works best rather than the one you have invested in the most.

Revise it rapidly. Strategies are meant to be revised and adjusted. You’d be hard pressed to find a successful entrepreneur, artist, or creator who is doing exactly the same thing today as when they started. Starbucks sold coffee supplies and espresso machines for over a decade before opening their own stores. 37 Signals started as a web design firm before pivoting into a software company that is worth over $100M today. Nintendo made playing cards and vacuum cleaners before it stole the hearts of video game lovers everywhere.

Too many entrepreneurs think if their first business idea is a failure, they aren’t cut out for it. Too many artists assume that if their early work doesn’t get praised, they don’t have the skill required. Too many people believe if their first two or three relationships are bad, they will never find love.

Imagine if the forces of nature worked that way. What if Mother Nature only gave herself one shot at creating life? We’d all just be single-celled organisms. Thankfully, that’s not how evolution works. For millions of years, life has been adapting, evolving, revising, and iterating until it has reached the diverse and varied species that inhabit our planet today. It is not the natural course of things to figure it all out on the first try.

So if your original idea is a failure and you feel like you’re constantly revising and adjusting, cut yourself a break. Changing your strategy is normal. It is literally the way the world works. You have to stay on the bus.

Stage 3: A Failure of Vision
Ralph Waldo Emerson was born in Massachusetts in 1803. His father was a minister in the Unitarian Church, which was a relatively popular branch of Christianity at the time.

Like his father, Emerson attended Harvard and became an ordained pastor. Unlike his father, he found himself disagreeing with many of the church's teachings after a few years on the inside. Emerson debated heavily with church leaders before eventually writing, “This mode of commemorating Christ is not suitable to me. That is reason enough why I should abandon it.”

Emerson resigned from the church in 1832 and spent the following year traveling throughout Europe. The travels sparked his imagination and led to friendships with contemporary philosophers and writers such as John Stuart Mill, William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and Thomas Carlyle. It was later written that his travels to Paris sparked “a moment of almost visionary intensity that pointed him away from theology and toward science.”

Upon returning to the United States, Emerson founded the Transcendental Club, which was a group of New England intellectuals like himself who wanted to talk about philosophy, culture, science, and improving American society.

Emerson's deep questioning of his life and values, which began with his work as a pastor, intensified during his international travels, and continued with his Transcendental Club meetings helped him realize the desire to become a philosopher and writer. He spent the rest of his years pursuing independent ideas and writing essays and books that are still valued today.

Fixing a Failure of Vision
A Failure of Vision is a WHY problem. They happen because your vision or goal for what you want to become (your why) doesn't align with the actions you are taking.

There are three primary ways to fix Failures of Vision.

Take stock of your life.
Determine your non-negotiable.
Navigate criticism.
Take stock of your life. People rarely take the time to think critically about their vision and values. Of course, there is no requirement that says you must to develop a personal vision for your work or your life. Many people prefer to go-with-the-flow and take life as it comes. In theory, that's just fine. But in practice, there is a problem:

If you never decide on a vision for your life, you'll often find yourself living someone else's dream.

Like many children, Emerson followed the path of his father to the same school and the same profession before opening his eyes and realizing it wasn't what he wanted. Adopting someone else's vision as your own—whether it be from family, friends, celebrities, your boss, or society as a whole—is unlikely to lead to your personal dream. Your identity and your habits need to be aligned.

Because of this, you need to take stock of your life. What do you want to accomplish? How do you want to spend your days? It is not someone else’s job to figure out the vision for your life. That can only be done by you. My suggestion is to start by exploring your core values. Then, review your recent experiences by writing an Annual Review or doing an Integrity Report.

Determine your non-negotiable. Your “non-negotiable” is the one thing you are not willing to budge on, no matter what. One common mistake is to make the non-negotiable your strategy, when it should be your vision. It's very easy to get fixated on your idea. But if you're going to get obsessed with something, get obsessed with your vision, not your idea. Be firm on the vision, not on this particular version of your idea. Jeff Bezos has said, “We are stubborn on vision. We are flexible on details.”

The key is to realize that nearly everything is a detail—your tactics, your strategy, even your business model. If your non-negotiable is to be a successful entrepreneur, then there are many ways to achieve that vision. If Amazon's non-negotiable is to “be earth’s most customer centric company,” they can lose billions on Amazon Auctions and Amazon zShops and still reach their goal.

Once you are confident in your vision, it is rare to lose it in one fell swoop. There are so few mistakes that lead to the complete annihilation of a dream. More likely, you failed at a strategy level and felt demoralized. This crippled your enthusiasm and you gave up not because you should, but because you felt like it. Your emotions caused you to turn a Stage 1 or Stage 2 failure into a Stage 3 failure. Most of the mistakes that people assume are Failures of Vision are actually Failures of Strategy. Many entrepreneurs, artists, and creators get hung up on a particular version of their idea and when the idea fails they give up on the vision as well. Don't develop a sense of ownership over the wrong thing. There are nearly infinite ways to achieve your vision if you are willing to be flexible on the details.

Navigate criticism. Criticism can be an indicator of failed strategies and tactics, but—assuming you're a reasonable person with good intentions—it is rarely an indicator of a failed vision. If you are committed to making your vision a non-negotiable factor in your life and not giving up on the first try, then you have to be willing to navigate criticism. You don't need to apologize for the things you love, but you do have to learn how to deal with haters.

The 4th Stage of Failure
There is a 4th stage of failure that we haven't talked about: Failures of Opportunity.

These are WHO mistakes. They occur when society fails to provide equal opportunity for all people. Failures of Opportunity are the result of many complex factors: age, race, gender, income, education, and more.

For example, there are thousands of men my age living in the slums of India or the streets of Bangladesh who are more intelligent and more talented than I am, but we live very different lives largely because of the opportunities presented to us.

Failures of Opportunity deserve an article of their own and there are many things we can do as individuals and as a society to reduce them. However, I chose not to focus on them here because Failures of Opportunity are difficult to influence. Meanwhile, your vision, your strategy, and your tactics are all things you can directly control.



A Final Note on Failure
Hopefully, the 3 Stages of Failure framework has helped you clarify some of the issues you're facing and how to deal with them. One thing that may not be apparent at first glance is how the different stages can impact one another.

For example, Failures of Tactics can occasionally create enough havoc that you mistakenly believe you have a Failure of Vision. Imagine how Sam Carpenter felt when he was working 100 hours per week. It would have been easy to assume that his vision of being an entrepreneur was the failure when, in fact, it was merely poor tactics causing the problem.

Sometimes you need a few tactics to create enough whitespace to figure out your strategy or vision. This is why I write about things like how to manage your daily routine and how to figure out your priorities and why multitasking is a myth. No, these topics aren't going to create a world-changing vision by themselves. But they might clear enough space in your calendar for you to dream up a world-changing vision.

In other words, you might not be walking the wrong path after all. It's just that there is so much dust swirling around you that you can't see the path. Figure out the right tactics and strategy—clear the dust from the air—and you'll find that the vision often reveals itself.

Read Next
The Beginner's Guide to Better Decision Making
The Best Decision Making Books
The Four Burners Theory: The Downside of Work-Life Balance
FOOTNOTES
This quote is typically attributed to Albert Einstein, but there is no evidence that Einstein actually said it. For now, the original source remains unknown.
Work the System by Sam Carpenter. Page 28.
All quotes in this section are from the Mixergy interview with Sam Carpenter unless otherwise noted. Recorded on February 9, 2012.
Equally important, make sure you measure the right things. Don't make the mistake of succeeding at the wrong thing. What is the metric that matters most to you?
Press release: Amazon.com Launches Online Auction Site. March 30, 1999.
Early Amazon: Auctions. April 30, 2006.
Comments made at the Business Insider Ignition conference in New York, NY. December 2, 2014.
Fun side note: my first entrepreneurial venture was selling used college textbooks through Amazon Marketplace. So, if we feel like stretching this, we could say that in a roundabout way Jeff Bezos bought me a few beers in college. Here's to you, Mr. Bezos.
Amazon.com 2015 Letter to Shareholders.
The Surprisingly Long History Nintendo by Tegan Jones. Gizmodo. September 20, 2013.
The Lord's Supper by Ralph Waldo Emerson. September 9, 1832.
Emerson: The Mind on Fire by Robert Richardson. 1995.
I write my Annual Review each December, but obviously you can do this any time of the year.
How Jeff Bezos’ long-term thinking paid off big for Amazon by Devindra Hardawar. September 9, 2011.
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Ugur Aridogan

Shared June 17, 2017

There are three primary ways to fix Failures of Tactics.

Record your process.
Measure your outcomes.
Review and adjust your tactics

Ugur Aridogan

Shared June 17, 2017

There are three primary ways to fix Failures of Strategy.

Launch it quickly.
Do it cheaply.
Revise it rapidly.

Ugur Aridogan

Shared June 17, 2017

There are three primary ways to fix Failures of Vision.

Take stock of your life.
Determine your non-negotiable.
Navigate criticism

Aditya DSR

Shared September 22, 2017

This was very informative and for some reason, it ended up attacking the part of me that is afraid of failing. Which makes me invest quite a lot of time on the details, i don't have the so called surface area for success and which is exactly what i will start working on. Good article. I marked the rest of the articles by the same author for a later read.

kuyad Lakei

Shared November 1, 2017

I"ll Try everything...

Stephen Norris

Shared February 25, 2018

Understanding the reasons why we fail and how we can prevent further failures allows us to make better judgment calls leading to greater success!

Maximiliano Correa

Shared May 16, 2018

Love it

Augustine Yeboah

Shared June 4, 2018

There are no other truer words than these to survive on this planet

On the one hand, perseverance and grit are key to achieving success in any field.

TheBlogz _in

Shared July 2, 2018

#life

#work

Jolo Quiason

Shared 6 days ago

In life, don't be afraid to commit or to quit. Both strategies are needed in life.

When something is wrong, do not resist change. Change presents both challenges and opportunities for quit. Try something new. It's never easy to change things that were set in stone especially when other people are involved. The important thing is to do what you can.

Kim Lehman

Shared May 26, 2016

Good advice. Inspirational. Great read for entrepreneurs.

Gene Capeder

Shared May 27, 2016

Clear and concise, nice read!

Jumana Hussain

Shared May 28, 2016

The

Constantunes -

Shared May 29, 2016

comprehensive and relevant analysis of failure and their possible root causes.
thank you.
this can be applied to both professional and private life to assess, steer and improve on any hurdles faced with

Tharun Krishnamoorthy

Shared June 21, 2016

Brilliant. Now, HOW, WHAT & WHY makes more sense than just grammatical words.

Amy Hwang

Shared July 2, 2016

His business was struggling because it completely lacked the systems it needed to achieve optimal performance. In Carpenter’s words, “We were having all kinds of problems because everybody was doing it the way that they thought was best.”

Carpenter reasoned that if he could perfect his systems, then his staff could spend each day following best practices instead of constantly putting out fires. He immediately began writing down every process within the business.

Amy Hwang

Shared July 2, 2016

But if you’re going to get obsessed with something, get obsessed with your vision, not your idea. Be firm on the vision, not on this particular version of your idea. Jeff Bezos has said, “We are stubborn on vision. We are flexible on details.”

The key is to realize that nearly everything is a detail—your tactics, your strategy, even your business model.

April Lindley

Shared June 19, 2016

👌👌👌

Whether you’re running a business, parenting a family, or managing your own life, building great systems is crucial for repeated success. It all starts with writing down each specific step of the process and developing a checklist you can follow when life gets crazy.

April Lindley

Shared June 19, 2016

Sometimes you need to display unwavering confidence and double down on your efforts. Sometimes you need to abandon the things that aren’t working and try something new.

Keren Herrera

Shared July 9, 2016

If something is not working, smart people don’t repeat it endlessly. They revise. They adjust. They pivot. They quit.

Chris Wegner

Shared August 2, 2016

Measure your outcomes. If something is important to you, measure it. If you’re an entrepreneur, measure how many sales calls you make each day. If you’re a writer, measure how frequently you publish a new article. If you’re a weightlifter, measure how often you train. If you never measure your results, how will you know which tactics are working?

Sonia Bowditch

Shared August 6, 2016

I have also signed up for his twice weekly improvement emails.

John

Shared August 12, 2016

“We are stubborn on vision. We are flexible on details.”

Abdulaziz Al Ali

Shared August 21, 2016

Inspiring

Daniel Robert

Shared December 21, 2016

Stuff to ponder.

Oladipupo O. Fredrick

Shared December 25, 2016

“You haven’t really started working on [your idea] till you’ve launched.”

dzaden

Shared January 9, 2017

Launch it quickly.
Do it cheaply.
Revise it rapidly

Chinenye Agwu

Shared January 26, 2017

A very enlightening piece.

秀臣 林

Shared January 27, 2017

living

Vinay Kumar

Shared January 31, 2017

Donna Blackwell

Shared February 9, 2017

Fantastic! Read often.

John Hookings

Shared February 15, 2017

"perseverance"

Suresh Kumar

Shared February 22, 2017

hav to rd

Phan Thuong Phuc

Shared March 4, 2017

It helps me when the time I am struggling and stressed to decide whether I should move on or just give it up.

Benjamin Brendel

Shared March 9, 2017

Fail n Life

Bby Potato

Shared March 14, 2017

On the other hand, telling someone to never give up is terrible advice. Successful people give up all the time. If something is not working, smart people don’t repeat it endlessly. They revise. They adjust. They pivot. They quit. As the saying goes, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Eric Blair

Shared March 16, 2017

"They occur when you fail to build robust systems, forget to measure carefully"

What? Who talks like this? Imagine telling someone: "You need to build more "robust systems" and "measure carefully" for your marriage to succeed."

Right. GTFOOT with the MBA-speak "motivational" BS that literally anybody with a spare hour or two can make up. It's not profound. It's not motivating. It's bullshit and a byproduct of the market society that treats people like means to an end. Think about it for a moment.

They occur when you fail to build robust systems, forget to measure carefully

Christinaar

Shared March 19, 2017

" before it stole the hearts"

Francis Yap

Shared April 1, 2017

Sometimes you need to display unwavering confidence and double down on your efforts. Sometimes you need to abandon the things that aren’t working and try something new. The key question is: how do you know when to give up and when to stick with it?

Evandro Cintra

Shared April 6, 2017

Very good!!

Vuyisile Nkosi

Shared April 13, 2017

must read

AYISHA QURESHI

Shared April 20, 2017

A fresh take on a much read and researched topic.

Frank Owens

Shared May 21, 2017

Good stuff to get you (us) moving towards success.

Mohamad Abdulla

Shared May 27, 2017

Quit or keep up?

Dinhoro Filho

Shared May 13, 2017

One common mistake is to make the non-negotiable your strategy, when it should be your vision. It's very easy to get fixated on your idea. But if you're going to get obsessed with something, get obsessed with your vision, not your idea. Be firm on the vision, not on this particular version of your idea. Jeff Bezos has said, “We are stubborn on vision. We are flexible on details.” 14

The key is to realize that nearly everything is a detail—your tactics, your strategy, even your business model.

Sarah Camille Anarna

Shared June 4, 2017

3 Stages of Failure in life and work 👌🏼

Ben Z

Shared June 6, 2017

Done

Launch

Kelly M

Shared June 6, 2017

I love Paul Graham’s take on this: “You haven't really started working on [your idea] till you've launched.”

imran ali

Shared June 14, 2017

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Life requires both strategie

h1400147@mvrht.net

Shared June 24, 2017

er resolve to keep going. If you want to build a successful business or create a great mar

Timur Sharafutdinov

Shared June 26, 2017

Прочитать

Sandro

Shared June 30, 2017

Fare un piano non basta..

hana .

Shared July 10, 2017

building great systems is crucial for repeated success

hana .

Shared July 10, 2017

You haven’t really started working on [your idea] till you’ve launched.”

Faith Abbeam

Shared July 20, 2017

I love this piece you wrote! I enjoy reading your sections.

Dinesh Gupta

Shared August 6, 2017

The 3 Stages of Failure in Life and Work (And How to Fix Them)
By James Clear    |    Decision Making
One of the hardest things in life is to know when to keep going and when to move on.

On the one hand, perseverance and grit are key to achieving success in any field. Anyone who masters their craft will face moments of doubt and somehow find the inner resolve to keep going. If you want to build a successful business or create a great marriage or learn a new skill then “sticking with it” is perhaps the most critical trait to possess.

On the other hand, telling someone to never give up is terrible advice. Successful people give up all the time. If something is not working, smart people don’t repeat it endlessly. They revise. They adjust. They pivot. They quit. As the saying goes, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Life requires both strategies. Sometimes you need to display unwavering confidence and double down on your efforts. Sometimes you need to abandon the things that aren’t working and try something new. The key question is: how do you know when to give up and when to stick with it?

One way to answer this question is to use a framework I call the 3 Stages of Failure.



The 3 Stages of Failure
This framework helps clarify things by breaking down challenges into three stages of failure:

Stage 1 is a Failure of Tactics. These are HOW mistakes. They occur when you fail to build robust systems, forget to measure carefully, and get lazy with the details. A Failure of Tactics is a failure to execute on a good plan and a clear vision.
Stage 2 is a Failure of Strategy. These are WHAT mistakes. They occur when you follow a strategy that fails to deliver the results you want. You can know why you do the things you do and you can know how to do the work, but still choose the wrong what to make it happen.
Stage 3 is a Failure of Vision. These are WHY mistakes. They occur when you don't set a clear direction for yourself, follow a vision that doesn't fulfill you, or otherwise fail to understand why you do the things you do.
In the rest of this article, I’ll share a story, solution, and summary for each stage of failure. My hope is that the 3 Stages of Failure framework will help you navigate the tricky decision of deciding when to quit and when to stick with it. It's not perfect, but I hope you find it to be useful.

Before we talk about how to get started, I wanted to let you know I researched and compiled science-backed ways to stick to good habits and stop procrastinating. Want to check out my insights? Download my free PDF guide “Transform Your Habits” here.



Stage 1: A Failure of Tactics
Sam Carpenter became a small business owner in 1984. Using $5,000 as a down payment, he purchased a struggling business in Bend, Oregon and renamed it Centratel.

Centratel provided 24/7 telephone answering service for doctors, veterinarians, and other businesses that needed the phones to be answered at all hours, but couldn't afford to pay a staff member to sit at the desk constantly. When he bought the business, Carpenter hoped that Centratel “would someday be the highest-quality telephone answering service in the United States.”

Things did not go as expected. In a 2012 interview, Carpenter described his first decade and a half of entrepreneurship by saying,

“I was literally working 80 to 100 hours a week for 15 years. I was a single parent of two kids, believe it or not. I was very sick. I was on all kinds of antidepressants and so forth…

I was going to miss a payroll and lose my entire company. If you can just imagine a nervous wreck, physical wreck, and then multiply that by ten, that’s what I was. It was a horrible time.”

One night, just before he was about to miss payroll, Carpenter had a realization. His business was struggling because it completely lacked the systems it needed to achieve optimal performance. In Carpenter’s words, “We were having all kinds of problems because everybody was doing it the way that they thought was best.”

Carpenter reasoned that if he could perfect his systems, then his staff could spend each day following best practices instead of constantly putting out fires. He immediately began writing down every process within the business.

“For instance,” he said. “We have a nine-step procedure for answering the phone at the front desk. Everybody does it that way, it’s 100% the best way to do it, and we’ve taken an organic system and made it mechanical, and made it perfect.”

Over the next two years, Carpenter recorded and revised every process in the company. How to make a sales presentation. How to deposit a check. How to pay client invoices. How to process payroll. He created a manual that any employee could pick up and follow for any procedure within the company—system by system, step by step.

What happened?

Carpenter’s workweek rapidly decreased from 100 hours per week to less than 10 hours per week. He was no longer needed to handle every emergency because there was a procedure to guide employees in each situation. As the quality of their work improved, Centratel raised their prices and the company's profit margin exploded to 40 percent.

Today, Centratel has grown to nearly 60 employees and recently celebrated its 30th year in business. Carpenter now works just two hours per week.

Fixing a Failure of Tactics
A Failure of Tactics is a HOW problem. In Centratel's case, they had a clear vision (to be “the highest-quality telephone answering service in the United States”) and a good strategy (the market for telephone answering services was large), but they didn't know how to execute their strategy and vision.

There are three primary ways to fix Failures of Tactics.

Record your process.
Measure your outcomes.
Review and adjust your tactics.
Record your process. McDonald's has more than 35,000 locations worldwide. Why can they plug-and-play new employees while still delivering a consistent product? Because they have killer systems in place for every process. Whether you're running a business, parenting a family, or managing your own life, building great systems is crucial for repeated success. It all starts with writing down each specific step of the process and developing a checklist you can follow when life gets crazy.

Measure your outcomes. If something is important to you, measure it. If you’re an entrepreneur, measure how many sales calls you make each day. If you’re a writer, measure how frequently you publish a new article. If you’re a weightlifter, measure how often you train. If you never measure your results, how will you know which tactics are working?

Review and adjust your tactics. The fatiguing thing about Stage 1 failures is that they never stop. Tactics that used to work will become obsolete. Tactics that were a bad idea previously might be a good idea now. You need to be constantly reviewing and improving how you do your work. Successful people routinely give up on tactics that don't move their strategy and vision forward. Fixing a Failure of Tactics is not a one time job, it is a lifestyle.

Stage 2: A Failure of Strategy
It was March of 1999. Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, had just announced that his company would launch a new service called Amazon Auctions to help people sell “virtually anything online.” The idea was to create something that could compete with eBay. Bezos knew there were millions of people with goods to sell and he wanted Amazon to be the place where those transactions happened.

Greg Linden, a software engineer for Amazon at the time, recalled the project by saying, “Behind the scenes, this was a herculean effort. People from around the company were pulled off their projects. The entire Auctions site, with all the features of eBay and more, was built from scratch. It was designed, architected, developed, tested, and launched in under three months.”

Amazon Auctions was a spectacular failure. Just six months after launch, management realized the project was going nowhere. In September 1999, they scrambled to release a new offering called Amazon zShops. This version of the idea allowed anyone from big companies to individuals to set up an online shop and sell goods through Amazon.

Again, Amazon swung and missed. Neither Amazon Auctions nor Amazon zShops are running today. In December 2014, Bezos referred to the failed projects by saying, “I’ve made billions of dollars of failures at Amazon.com. Literally billions.”

Undaunted, Amazon tried yet again to create a platform for third-party sellers. In November 2000, they launched Amazon Marketplace, which allowed individuals to sell used products alongside Amazon's new items. For example, a small bookstore could list their used textbooks directly alongside new ones from Amazon.

It worked. Marketplace was a runaway success. In 2015, Amazon Marketplace accounted for nearly 50 percent of the $107 billion in sales on Amazon.com.

Fixing a Failure of Strategy
A Failure of Strategy is a WHAT problem. By 1999, Amazon had a clear vision to “be earth’s most customer centric company.” They were also masters of getting things done, which is why they were able to roll Amazon Auctions out in just three months. The why and how were handled, but the what was unknown.

There are three primary ways to fix Failures of Strategy.

Launch it quickly.
Do it cheaply.
Revise it rapidly.
Launch it quickly. Some ideas work much better than others, but nobody really knows which ideas work until you try them. Nobody knows ahead of time—not venture capitalists, not the intelligent folks at Amazon, not your friends or family members. All of the planning and research and design is just pretext. I love Paul Graham’s take on this: “You haven't really started working on [your idea] till you've launched.”

Because of this, it is critical to launch strategies quickly. The faster you test a strategy in the real world, the faster you get feedback on whether or not it works. Note the timeline Amazon operated on: Amazon Auctions was released in March 1999. Amazon zShops was released in September 1999. Amazon Marketplace was released in November 2000. Three huge attempts within 20 months.

Do it cheaply. Assuming you have achieved some minimum level of quality, it is best to test new strategies cheaply. Failing cheaply increases your surface area for success because it means that you can test more ideas. Additionally, doing things cheaply serves another crucial purpose. It reduces your attachment to a particular idea. If you invest a lot of time and money into a particular strategy, it will be hard to give it up on that strategy. The more energy you put into something, the more ownership you feel toward it. Bad business ideas, toxic relationships, and destructive habits of all kinds can be hard to let go once they become part of your identity. Testing new strategies cheaply avoids these pitfalls and increases the likelihood that you will follow the strategy that works best rather than the one you have invested in the most.

Haziz Ayoade

Shared August 7, 2017

I thought this good enough as a Monday morning digest.

Javier Molina

Shared August 18, 2017

great article!

Gestepo Jason

Shared August 21, 2017

这个是如何做到 有的放矢,你最好能细读一下.我感觉国内很少有这样的文章,其描述了如何对待人生中的奋斗目标,何时需要坚持到底,何时又需要放弃果断开始一个新的起点.

Levi Phillips

Shared August 25, 2017

A great read! Simple and practical with massive implications.

Akiyo Higaki

Shared August 28, 2017

havoc

zhang yong

Shared September 8, 2017

nice

BottledLemonadeNews

Shared September 9, 2017

Okay-let's face it-we all have failures-now I see it in a completely different way.

Terry Mcintosh

Shared September 11, 2017

?????🤔🤔😉😎

Shoaib Shaukat

Shared September 11, 2017

If something is not working, smart people don’t repeat it endlessly. They revise. They adjust. They pivot.

If something is not working, smart people don’t repeat it endlessly. They revise. They adjust. They pivot.

Tomas Stasiulionis

Shared October 12, 2017

Neblogas

Sabo Bilal

Shared October 17, 2017

Définition de l'échec.

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Startup Labs

Shared November 12, 2017

Visão, estratégia e tática: os elementos que podem te fazer fracassar no trabalho e na vida.

Immanuel Darko-Aniakwa

Shared September 29, 2017

🔑

building great systems is crucial for repeated success.

Baška Kosaruková

Shared November 19, 2017

If something is important to you, measure it.

Maggie Hess

Shared November 25, 2017

This is very interesting and I believe it was well put together and very important to read.

Abdul Muneer

Shared November 29, 2017

Download

blagus11 Gustt

Shared December 4, 2017

A way to not fail. And how not to not fail.

Hafiz Hamzah

Shared December 9, 2017

3 jenis kegagalan.. Sebenarnya ada 4 jenis. Apa dia kegagalan yang ke-4 tersebut? Klik gambar untuk baca :)

#bukanejenmdrt
#studiedshariahrfp

The K - STER

Shared December 20, 2017

Quite helpful, insightful and a good way to reflect on decisions. E.g. Should I keep going? Should not have stopped? A good read

shamanth Sham

Shared December 24, 2017

The

Naveen Sharma

Shared December 28, 2017

A perfect strategy on which we can work. Much effective. I started following the steps mentioned and it reduced my working hours and increased my productive outcomes.

Kyle McMahon

Shared January 6, 2018

Awesome article!

Lorenzo De Leon

Shared January 12, 2018

The post presents a clear framework to learn from failure.

Md Shami

Shared January 14, 2018

herculean

Edkens Alexandre

Shared January 18, 2018

love it

ryan fitzsimmons

Shared January 22, 2018

Something everyone should know !!!!

Sabina Samadova

Shared February 5, 2018

Very good article!

Sylvester Mbina

Shared February 18, 2018

cleaver

Brian Dooley

Shared March 2, 2018

If you've not failed, you're doing it wrong...

Nikhil Kochhar

Shared March 4, 2018

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Branko Ninkovic

Shared March 9, 2018

Failure in Life and Work - The 3 Stages

Arya Granger

Shared March 11, 2018

perseverance and grit are key to achieving success in any field.

Puja Pathak

Shared March 22, 2018

nice

Nick Falcone

Shared April 5, 2018

Great article by a great author. Clear & concise information on how to overcome failures & stay on the path to success in life.

Shreyas Pangal

Shared April 23, 2018

hmmm...

There are three primary ways to fix Failures of Tactics.

Record your process.
Measure your outcomes.
Review and adjust your tactics.

Clay Dove

Shared May 28, 2018

perhaps the most critical trait to possess.

Soe Wei Yan Phyo

Shared June 6, 2018

The 3 Stages of Failure - Tactics, Strategy and Vision

The 3 Stages of Failure

This framework helps clarify things by breaking down challenges into three stages of failure:

Stage 1 is a Failure of Tactics. These are HOW mistakes. They occur when you fail to build robust systems, forget to measure carefully, and get lazy with the details. A Failure of Tactics is a failure to execute on a good plan and a clear vision.
Stage 2 is a Failure of Strategy. These are WHAT mistakes. They occur when you follow a strategy that fails to deliver the results you want. You can know why you do the things you do and you can know how to do the work, but still choose the wrong what to make it happen.
Stage 3 is a Failure of Vision. These are WHY mistakes. They occur when you don't set a clear direction for yourself, follow a vision that doesn't fulfill you, or otherwise fail to understand why you do the things you do.

Philip Cheung

Shared June 8, 2018

失敗 n

Failure

aung aung

Shared June 14, 2018

hi hi

oscar coulibaly

Shared June 17, 2018

Very inspiring book

Dado Rantoni

Shared June 18, 2018

Fail

Ankita Jha

Shared June 29, 2018

So Fail is a must for a real man/woman/boy/girl/kids who want success in life... there are 3 stages of Failure in life and work that is given in this....

Ang Holstein

Shared June 30, 2018

if its one thing I have learned its this "it does not matter how many times you fall its the getting back up that makes you stronger and wiser " and this is a pearl of wisdom for your treasure chest of life people......above all else FAITH in Father God!

david nyende

Shared July 2, 2018

[Telling someone to never give up is terrible advice. Successful people give up all the time. If something is not working, smart people don’t repeat it endlessly. They revise. They adjust. They pivot. They quit. As the saying goes, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” ]

#KnowWhatIsFailing
#KnowWhyYoFailing
#KnowWhenToCallItQuits
#KnowWhenToRestrategize

Andrea Balsimo

Shared August 22, 2016

whats your thoughts

JT Kim

Shared January 2, 2017

erseverance and grit are key to achieving success in any field. Anyone who masters their craft will face moments of doubt and somehow find the inner resolve to keep going. If you want to build a successful business or create a great m

FRZ FAB

Shared March 16, 2017

Im paraphrasing what someone once said; 'the key to life isnt surviving, its finding something to live for'. This article might be for some of us who are on that path.

ying yang

Shared July 3, 2017

"You haven't really started working on [your idea] till you've launched."

George Cardozo Lira

Shared January 22, 2018

muchas veces fallamos en cumplir nuestras aspiraciones y no sabemos por que ..quizas este articulo te ayude a encontrar las fallas y resolverlas para seguir adelante

many times we fail to fulfill our aspirations and we do not know why ... maybe this article helps you find the flaws and solve them to move forward

Rena McHugh

Shared February 1, 2018

Love ya

özkan toker

Shared March 11, 2018

must read

Aditi Bhargava

Shared December 20, 2017

New year, new goals 💁🏽 But for real, this was a really good read