Lesson 8 – Succeed Through Failure


Lesson 7 was about positivity resonance and the effects of our health on our happiness levels. In this lesson I want to talk about failure and stress. Pretty negative, right? Let’s turn it around in this lesson.


  • it takes 21 days to form a habit
  • and the formula for happiness is – H = G + C + T&A

Your thoughts and actions are the most important part of the change that you are wanting to make.  Be the change you want to see.

How do you feel you went in the past 3 weeks?

Statistics are amazing things that sometimes back up ideas that we have on something, and at other times can surprise us.

I was reading the other day about American baseball statistics. Now you may not have heard of these sportsmen, and you may know nothing about baseball or the terms, but that doesn’t matter, it’s about the numbers.

Cy Young was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1937. He holds MLB (Major League Baseball) records for the most career wins – 511. He also had the most losses – 316.

Nolan Ryan was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1999. He pitched at 161 km/hour! He had the most strikeouts ever at 5,714 in his career. Nolan also had the most walks – 2795. In his 27 year career he was the MLB All-Star eight times, yet his strikeout and walk statistics are MLB records by significant margins.

So why are the two players above both major baseball legends when they both had significant and record-breaking losses?

Well it’s the same reason why good photographers get the best shots.

Cy Young and Nolan Ryan played a lot of baseball. They didn’t allow their failures and losses to stop them in their tracks. They pushed through. They practiced more and played more. They got back up again and did what they knew best – it’s a numbers game. The more you play, the more the numbers work in your favour.

If you are photographing an event, especially something memorable like a wedding, wouldn’t the best way to get 100 great album-worthy photos be to take 1000 draft shots. That is what the professional photographers do. It’s a numbers game.

In his best-selling book Outliers Malcolm Gladwell introduces the concept of ’10,000 Hours’. In 1990 a study was done at the Berlin Academy of Music by dividing the school’s violinists into the groups:

  1. the stars with the potential to go on to be world-class soloists;
  2. those who were merely good students; and
  3. those who were unremarkable and would probably end up as teachers.
    They then studied how many hours approximately each of those students had practiced since they first picked up a violin.

These were the findings:

  • all started around 5 years old and all played around 3 hours per week
  • at around 8 years of age the ones who were in group 1 above were practicing more than the others:
    • 6 hours a week by age 9
    • 8 hours a week by age 12
    • 16 hours a week by age 14

By age 20 the students who went on to become world-class soloists had increased their practicing to over 30 hours a week.

  • Group 1 had totalled around 10,000 hours of practice
  • Group 2 had totalled 8,000 hours
  • Group 3 had merely practiced for 4,000 hours over the same period.

K. Anders Ericsson’s study above also found that there were no natural performers in this group. Those who rose to the top merely put in more hours of work than the others. It’s a numbers game.

The only way we can achieve anything worthwhile in life is by putting in the hours; pushing through the failures; wanting the rewards badly enough.

Ask any entrepreneur how many failures they have had. More than the rest of us I can guarantee – and that is where their success comes from – failing and then getting back up.

Good parents never berate a child for falling over. One of the first big celebrations in a child’s development is when they get up and walk for the first time. But we all know how many times they are going to land on their bottom, or have to hold onto the furniture, or skin their knees before they can walk unaided and steadily.

We forget these lessons that we went through when we are trying as adults to be successful.

We also have an ingrained belief that success precedes happiness. This belief is so wrong, and could be one of our most obvious and monumental failures.

An attitude of optimism, positivity and happiness is a prerequisite to push through the failures whilst you’re putting in your 10,000 hours. The amazing thing is that it does not take 10,000 hours of work to change your outlook on life. It is not hard work. It is actually enjoyable.

As Winston Churchill said

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts”

I do not mean to trivialise in any way the people who suffer depression or any kind of mental illness. I acknowledge that people have conditions that need to be assisted with medication and professional help.

These are not the people I have the qualifications to be trying to influence here. I am merely putting together lessons for those who have the ability to change their lives through behaviour modification.

You can succeed through failure if you have the right attitude to start with, and you are prepared to persist.

Which brings me to part two of this lesson.

Stress Management and the Fresh Heart Project

Dr Zarrin Shaikh is a UK cardiologist who is managing her patients a little differently to others in her field. Dr Shaik treats cardiac disease through lifestyle changes. And she uses the acronym FRESH to deliver her unique, tailored approach.

I’m giving you my take on the 5 components of Zarrin’s program that are not for cardiac patients, but just for general wellbeing, stress reduction and an overall happy life.

F is for Food

In Sesame Street, Hoots the Owl teaches Cookie Monster that cookies are a ‘sometimes food’ – special treats not for everyday consumption. We need to all heed this advice.

Fast food, take away, highly processed or deep fried foods, and sugar laden treats are not what should make up the basis of your diet. Keep these for special occasions and instead choose lean meats, plant-based meals with lots of colour, grains, high-fibre foods and drink lots of water. When you feel better, you do better.

R is for Relaxation

Everybody has time to take out for themselves. Today’s epidemic is the ‘too busy’ lifestyle – people wear it like a badge, with honour. Social media has us all thinking that our friends have fabulous social lives while we sit at home watching Netflix (and watching our friends having fun on social).

We all need to find what works for us as relaxation. There are apps to help you relax. Yoga classes, meditation, exercises. It doesn’t matter what you pick, even if it is putting on some classical music and lying down and actively listening to it for thirty minutes, or taking the time to watch the sun rise or set. Just do it!

E is for exercise

Some exercise is relaxing, some is invigorating. You just need to get moving. Today’s sedentary patterns need to change and experts are saying that 8,000 steps a day will add years onto the average lifespan.

You don’t need fancy equipment, an expensive gym membership or special clothing (although a supportive bra for women and appropriate footwear for all is important). Do whatever you can, at your fitness level, in your time – but do it!

S is for Sleep

Aim to get seven to nine hours a night. Sleep is when your body can go into full repair mode. It is good for your body and for your brain function. A good night’s sleep reduces stress and anxiety and helps with memory and cognitive ability. Interestingly, it is like a circular loop.

When you are stressed and anxious it is very difficult to sleep, yet lack of sleep can affect our ability to manage both of these conditions. There are many ways to get a better night’s sleep, but I believe that habit is the first step.

Go to bed at roughly the same time every night and aim to wake at the same time. Get into a rhythm. Cut out distractions and do not touch any electronic devices for at least an hour before you go to bed.

H is for Happiness

And last but not least, Happiness.

Dr Shaik uses increasing happiness levels in her patients with workshops and coaching. You’re already doing the right thing by working though my Achieving Happiness lessons.

Research has proven that people can raise their baseline happiness level – it’s just a matter of putting in the work. Not 10,000 hours’ worth – just starting to look at life differently, re-framing outcomes, reacting differently, cutting out negativity and stressors.

Surround yourself with positive people, people who love you and think like you. Happiness is contagious.

The Framingham Heart Study began in Framingham, Massachusetts in 1948 with 5,209 adult subjects, and is now on its third generation of participants.

In 2008 they published a paper on the participant’s happiness. They had monitored people over a 20 year period and found that happiness spreads.

They mapped happiness and the results showed a ‘hub and spoke’ model – if people around you are happy, or your friend becomes happier, then that spreads to you. If you are happier you can affect those around you.

Happiness spans 3 degrees of separation. If you are happy – people around you are happy. And in the study they found that this had an effect on participant’s cardio vascular health.

I believe that this is such a simple reminder for everyone, not just cardiac patients, to take control of their health and wellbeing. I know of two men in their early 50s who have died in the last fortnight from heart attacks.

They were not cardiac patients. They had no idea what was coming. None of us do. But we can make the decision to take a FRESH look at life.

Some Happiness Authors:

  • Dr Barbara Frederickson
  • Dr Martin Seligman
  • Sonja Lyubomirsky
  • Shawn Achor
  • Michelle Gielan
  • Sharon Salzberg
  • Gretchen Rubin
  • Tal Ben-Shahar
  • Meik Wiking
  • Amy Blankson
  • Neil Pasricha

Some Tests:


Some Exercises:

  • Keep up your Gratitude Journaling
  • Give thanks for your parent’s encouragement when you were a toddler and continue to give thanks every time you fail at something. The more you keep working at it, the closer you are to success. You can turn that failure around
  • Be prepared to put in 10,000 hours if you want to be world class at something
  • Follow the FRESH method of taking control of your life. There is no time for stressors
Photo by Jordan on Unsplash

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