Learning from failure

"The essential part of creativity is not being afraid to fail." ~ Edwin Land


It’s time to get out of your head and start taking action. No matter the size of your action, start moving forward. You cannot succeed or fail until you get that idea out into the world. The truth is, sometimes you’ll be right, and sometimes you’ll be wrong. Either way, you will learn from the journey.
 
Doing something new, challenging the status quo, or testing limiting beliefs can be a scary process. But staying safe by not acting, that gets you nowhere. The key is to track your data. Learn from success and from failure. Know your data like the back of your hand. All data is useful data. Stop guessing what went right or wrong.
 
Learning from failure
 
A while ago, I was about to run my first AdWords campaign. As a Strategy Consultant, I’ve recommended AdWords campaigns on numerous occasions. However, designing and executing an AdWords campaign was something new to me as a Personal Development & Entrepreneurship Coach. I was nervous as hell. There was a real risk of losing my cold hard cash. Gulp!
 
Guess what?! My first AdWords campaign flopped. Zero Conversions. ZERO! At first, I was disappointed. Some might say I wasted money and should have hired a professional. But, that disappointment quickly changed into positive insights. I had an idea in my head. I took action. I reframed the experience and learned.
 
My Personal Development & Entrepreneurship Coaching services were new, and I only had few clients. My AdWords campaign was set up to drive traffic to a landing page and convert unique visitors into new clients. Here’s what I learned from that “failed” campaign:

  • Detailed demographical data for my target audience
  • Time of day my audience is surfing the internet
  • Precise locations of my target audience
  • That my landing page needs optimization
  • That my AdWords campaign needs optimization
  • The average Cost Per Click (CPC) for my keywords
  • Exact keywords for future blog posts, copywriting, marketing, ad campaigns, etc.
  • More … more … more

I could go on, but I’m sure you understand the point. You must move forward and take risks. No matter how big or small the action, take that first step. Then, make the next one. As you move forward with each step, inertia takes place. Next thing you know, you’ll be flying down that path towards success.
 
Failure is a course corrector
 
Let’s go back to that AdWords Campaign again. Sure, I lost some money and a few hours of time. That sucks. But, what if I didn’t run that campaign? What if I didn’t learn those lessons and collect all that data? What if I waited until I spent several months putting together a giant online video course (coming soon) and then ran my first AdWords campaign? If that were the case, I wouldn’t know, in detail, all the lessons learned from above. Months of time and money could be lost.
 
Wait, but Stewart, you already knew your target audience and a lot of the other information too. You conducted research and developed Buyer Personas, right? Yes, yes I did. However, my research and Buyer Personas were based off hypotheses, not hard data. Now, I have actual data. Now, I have well-informed Buyer Personas, demographics, and psychographics of target my audience.
 
My “failure” in one campaign has already led to the success of many others. That failed AdWords campaign corrected my course of action for the future.
 
Find a process to track your actions and decisions
 
Always track your actions. The process to track your actions and decisions doesn’t have to be automated or complicated. It can be as simple as a journal. Consider using a cradle to grave analysis. Write your actions and decisions in a journal from the beginning to the end. Once you reach the end, analyze the wing-to-wing process and decisions you made along the way.

  • What went well?
  • What didn’t go well?
  • What were the strengths?
  • Where are your opportunities for improvement?
  • What were your lessons learned? (positive/negative)
  • How can you apply those lessons learned next time?

 
Preserve and Pivot
 
When something goes well, preserve those findings. Adapt, rinse, and repeat successful actions. If something didn’t go well, take the time to develop a deep understanding of why. What happened that was under your control? What happened that you could have influenced differently? What happened that was entirely out of your control?
 
Start with what you can control. Pivot away from actions if they resulted in negative results. Then, look at what you could have influenced. Determine steps you can take, next time, to positively influence the outcome. For anything outside of your control, relax and smile. Understand sometimes this happens. I’d still analyze what was out of your control. You might find ways to mitigate or reduce your risk moving forward.
 
To wrap it up, take action. Move forward. Learn from each step by developing a process to track your data. Use data to preserve the positive and pivot away from the negative. Have fun and enjoy your journey!

- Stewart 

Comment