Just in case you haven’t heard…
As most of you may know, I am subscribed to quite a few self improvement, entrepreneurial, life hacking, habit forming, better you, better world email lists. Over the last 3 weeks I’ve been bombarded with countless emails from leading experts and industry gurus reflecting on what they were able to accomplish in 2014.
Not to say that this has been a bad thing. I’ve tried my best to read through what I felt would be read worthy. This is usually loosely based off how catchy the email title is and who is sending the email.
I have to say that I’ve gotten a lot of positives from the emails and I know the overall point and message is to motivate all those who read to improve. But one thing I could’t help but feeling after reading what I felt was at least the 50th article, was that every one of those people seems to be speaking from an unattainable place.
By that I mean it’s great hearing about all the things someone has accomplished, and to use those things as a way to motivate yourself to do better. But most people, myself included, fail at a whole lot more things than we succeed at over the course of a year. What can make reading these types of articles even more difficult is if we feel we didn’t achieve much (if anything) over the course of the year.
Now, I’m a very positive and logical thinker and I make sure to try my best not to compare myself to others. But I know that can be hard to do at times, especially when you feel as though you’ve already put in a massive amount of effort but won’t ever get to where you want to be.
I am also not a particularly open person when it comes to my personal feelings, but a few months ago I received a message from one of my subscribers who was struggling with stagnation in his current career. His frustrations really resonated with me and I ended up spending quite a bit of time writing a response to him. (I eventually turned that response into an article with his permission… you can read here)
That was probably the first thing I had ever written that openly admitted my fears, frustrations, and concerns with my professional career. Doing so helped me to really reflect on where I had been, where I still wanted to go, and to be honest with myself about my efforts.
I got a lot of positive feedback about the article, but what stood out most to me and made me feel the best, was when one of my teammates came up to me and told me that he read my article and that it was exactly what he needed based on his current situation. He said before reading it he thought that he was the only one feeling the way he did, and reading the article let him know that wasn’t the case, and he could get through it.
That right there made everything I worked on and tried to accomplished in 2014 worth my effort. More importantly it made me realize that though there is a time and place for my logical, do A and get to B type of writing, people connect more and appreciate when you can make things “real” to their experiences.
So as a way to help you feel better about your 2014 failures, and to motivate you to keep going, I decided I’m going to change things up from all the successful 2014 things you’ve probably been reading.
I’m going to write down everything I failed at over the course of 2014. Hopefully, it will help to put things in perspective (for myself as well) and make you realize that finding success can only happen through working through failure. Let’s begin!
Let’s start with some of the soccer specific goals I set for myself last year. These are the ones I physically wrote down in my journal and failed to accomplish:
2014 MLS All-star team: I wanted to perform well enough to be nominated to the team. Didn’t happen.
Corporate sponsor for #QuincyTime: Was hoping to gain enough exposure over the year that a company would sponsor the show in some capacity. (Whether that be prizes for fans or the show as a whole)
Soccer shoe deal: I tried (clearly not hard enough) to get a soccer shoe deal. I was/am very interested in earning a Nike sponsorship. Didn’t figure out how to pull that off in ’14.
15+ goals over the season: Self explanatory. (I didn’t to it)
Become face of Chicago Fire: Still working on it.
Re-sign new contract: No new deal by the end of the year.
Get on the USA or Nigerian national team radar: Nope.
Win starting position in preseason: Nope.
Some other soccer-related things I had in mind that I wanted to achieve and didn’t end up doing (I didn’t physically write these things down):
Score a bicycle kick in game
Score in every game
Have a multi-goal game
Start every game of the season
Become a union rep
Represent a player and help them get signed to a club
Lead the team in assists
Score in San Jose
Trade jerseys with Robbie Keane and Landon Donavan: cuz, why not? (Too late now for LD… Keane 2015?)
Score a goal outside the 18 yard box
Do extra fitness work on my own everyday: (This could have easily been achieved if I had just started doing this before the season had started)
Create a soccer stats page with my accomplishments on the site
Create stats info-graph
2014 Personal & Business failures (Everything I failed to do as planned. These are all things I had written down at some point in time or began working on throughout the year):
Build 5k in recurring revenue: This was my base level goal to reach collectively across all my business ventures.
Launch PerfectSoccerRecruit.com: I wanted to have this done and launched before the end of the season so I could spend my offseason promoting it. Though its almost done, I didn’t have it done by the time I wanted.
Re-build/Launch OnlineBizInformationSchool.com: This was my initial project when I first got in the online digital product space. I realized I needed to accomplish a few things before I could really get this to where I want it to go, so the official launch of this hasn’t happened.
Have at least 3 consultation clients: One of my business goals is to have a business consulting services arm. I got like half of one last year.
Replace my soccer income: This is my largest goal. After paying all the costs associated with running my own businesses and investing in my learning, I wasn’t even close.
Revamp my father’s business (Internet Galaxy): This company is my dad’s baby. For longer than I can remember, he’s dedicated a lot of his time and energy to it. He’s an electrical engineer so over time these projects have taken more and more of his time away from his business. I wanted to get in there and at least start rebuilding it in ’14, but didn’t.
Write and publish first book: As I’ve alluded to in other articles, I used to hate reading, so writing a book never looked to be in my future. Crazy how things change. The fact that I even wrote this down would have baffled 2009 Quincy. Even though my thoughts on this undertaking have changed, me naively thinking I would be able to knock out a full book by the end of the year (I started the end of Oct.) was a bit lofty. Regardless it still makes the list of 2014 failures.
Read at least 10 new books: Only got to 6
Hire personal assistant: Didn’t earn enough to bring someone on.
Inspire someone to start (and stick to) their own business: The “stick” part is key, I got a few people interested in the idea of becoming their own boss, but didn’t build a big enough platform and have enough things in place to help maintain it past their initial motivation.
Properly implement my data collection and internal email platform: This was another business venture that I just didn’t stick to.
Quincy Community: My plan was to have a community for like-minded individuals to share resources of self improvement. (Business, Life etc.) I didn’t get this launched in ’14.
Maximum You program: This is supposed to be a subset of the Quincy Community. A “starter eBook” and video course for those who join that helps jumpstart your self improvement plan. I got some of the foundational work done for the program, but failed to get it where it needed to be in time.
Cancel my Diamond Wireless subscription: This is a stupid phone insurance plan that I bought for my android phone back in, I want to say, 2008. (I’ve had an iPhone since 2010) These guys have been successfully debiting $6.99 from my account every month ever since I bought the plan. I keep making a point to call and cancel every time I see it on my bank statement, but then I forget or just don’t. At this point it’s just a running joke. Maybe I’ll call and cancel today…. Probably not.
Redo video bootcamp series: This was a video series I created to help people get their very first WordPress website up and running. I gave it away for free to those who joined my online business newsletter. I know I could do a better job, so I wanted to re-do it.
Continue to monetize arbitrage funnel: Early in 2014 I was working on a marketing funnel that generated debt leads for a credit card company. I actually got the thing to start making some money and could have scaled it up. But I got side tracked on other projects and eventually just let the thing die out.
Become better at design: I’m not creative at all. (Give me something to recreate though, and I’ve got you covered) In any case, I wanted to get better at design so I don’t have to wait so long for others to get me over what I need. I took a stab at learning…epic fail
Allowing people I care about to know how I feel: Things that piss a lot of people off genuinely don’t bother me. I’m laid back, get over things very quickly and let a lot of things roll off my shoulder. I’ve always been completely content with working through my thoughts and feelings on my own. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing but because of this, people I care about don’t know what I’m thinking or feeling because I just deal with it myself. I do feel that this can make it difficult for people to communicate with me on a deeper level or know where I stand. I failed to turn it all around in 2014, but I think the blog is helping me do just that.
Create a Facebook Ads product: I wanted to create a product that would teach people how to leverage Facebook advertising to promote their business, products, and services.
Start my Quincy Amarikwa “No Excuses” podcast: My idea was to start podcasting on topics of self improvement with the mantra of never making excuses for where you are or where you want to be in life. I did some initial research to get the project going, but didn’t make enough time for it to launch in ’14.
Speak at a TED Talks: A lofty goal, but I set out to do it nevertheless. One of my extremely talented and ingenious friends Moinina David Sengeh did just that. As well as speaking at the UN. You should check him out, he’s doing some amazing things.
Sample the song “Private Eyes”: Random, I know. But I used to make beats in my spare time for fun with friends. I wrote this down and never got around to doing it.
Buy an Xbox One: Probably the one goal I failed at on the list thats for the better. I’m a gamer at heart, and because of that, I can’t just play casually. (In fact, gaming and casually should never be in the same sentence.)
Create book club: Another aspect of the Quincy Community that didn’t come to be. With my new found acceptance (I mean love) of books I wanted to use this as a way to learn more from others.
Get software created: I paid a programmer $750 to make an ads creator software for my Facebook advertising. He was extremely flaky, but at the same time I didn’t really have a clear enough vision of what I wanted created. Long story short, nothing was made, and I’m still out that $750. You live and you learn.
Get business cards: I designed them, and got all the information laid out, but never followed through with getting them made. Which is dumb of me because there were too many times last year someone asked me for one.
Create gag websites: In February I bought a few domain names while on a flash sale under the pretense of inside jokes with some friends. I was suppose to make gag websites for good banter, but failed to make them.
Average 1 post a week on Quincy Amarikwa Blog: At the creation of this site what I wanted above all, was to be consistent with my writing and posting. And the best way to do that would have been to post at the very least 1 post a week. I fell way short of that. 22 of 56
Create an endorsement package: This would have been something that could have made it easier to approach brands and companies for sponsorship opportunities. I got started making it, but never finished it.
Call Wistia to get credits back on my account: Wistia is a video hosting company and I bought a streaming package at the premium level in January of 2014 ($100 month). I didn’t start sending any traffic to these videos to start making any money off of them until January of 2015. So I paid these guys $1200 last year to just upload some videos for safe keeping. FAIL.
Tweet daily: Or just post to one from of my social media platforms daily. I understand the power social media can bring to your brand. But it also takes a lot of work. I never sat down to actually map out what I wanted to create/build so it resulted in a bunch of sporadic posts with no real direction.
In the end I know for sure that I’ve forgotten a hundred other things that I successfully failed at over the course of 2014. What I’ve learned is…
Failure is a good thing
Failing means you’re trying, you’re learning, you’re doing. And the only way to grow is through the experience of failure. If you’re always looking to avoid failure or if the fear of failure paralyzes you from taking action, you’ll never make any progress.
Yes, I have started many different projects and invested a lot of money into things I never received any monetary return on over the course of 2014. BUT in doing so, I learned more about myself, my likes and dislikes, and gained more clarity on what it is I actually want out of my life and business.
If I hadn’t failed as much as I have, I wouldn’t have the knowledge and experience I have today, and this newly gained experience will allow me to make better decisions for my future, eventually leading to my definition of success.
I recently read an article by James Clear “Why Trying To Be Perfect Won’t Help You Achieve Your Goals”, in it he made mention of an excerpt from the book Art & Fear, where authors David Bayles and Ted Orland share a story about a ceramics teacher.
Heres the excerpt:
The ceramics teacher announced that he was dividing the class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced, all those on the right solely on its quality.
His procedure was simple: on the final day of class he would bring in his bathroom scales and weigh the work of the “quantity” group: fifty pounds of pots rated an “A”, forty pounds a “B”, and so on. Those being graded on “quality”, however, needed to produce only one pot — albeit a perfect one — to get an “A”.
Well, grading time came and a curious fact emerged: the works of highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity!
It seems that while the “quantity” group was busily churning out piles of work — and learning from their mistakes — the “quality” group had sat around theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay.
Moral of the story…
Start doing things, and focus only on increasing your repetitions!
Whenever you put in consistent work and learn from your mistakes, incredible progress is the result. The key there is “learn from your mistakes” i.e. FAILURE. Learn from your failures. The only true way to fail is to not learn something from your failures.
And though I have yet to reach some of the milestones I set for myself in 2014, I am still making progress towards achieving those goals. A small amount of effort exerted over an extended period of time can bring to fruition massive results. For better or for worse.
So I welcome my failures with open arms, because that is how I know I am on my way to success.