I used to believe by avoiding failure I would be successful.
It seems logical, right?
It’s counterintuitive but it’s wrong.
By avoiding fuck ups we fail without even trying.
Because we fear fucking up so much we:
Never publish our work Dilute our work so much to avoid criticism that it becomes vanilla and mediocre shit We sabotage our ideas with negative self-talk
This is more commonly referred to as perfectionism and fear of failure.
So paradoxically we fuck up in our attempts to avoid fucking up.
Which is fucked up, right?!
People are scared to make mistakes.
This manifests itself in many negative ways 👇
I have fucked up. Repeatedly. And often spectacularly.
You have, too. We’ve all fucked up.
Yet, we deny it, even hide it. We beat ourselves up as we are ashamed of our imperfections.
Because we have a false limiting belief that to be accepted and not rejected we must be perfect.
The Perfection Game
So, we play the perfection game. Hiding our shame.
Pretending everything is fine but inside we are hurting because, well, fucking up is hard to do.
At the root of the perfection game? Comparison. And giving a fuck about what others think.
By any metric, I was a successful entrepreneur in the music industry for decades.
But it didn’t always feel like that as I compared myself to people who were even more successful.
Which was fucked up!
I decided I needed to push myself harder. My obsession with not fucking up led me on a path to
spectacularly fucking up.
I then became ashamed of my fuck up.
Eventually, to stop myself from going bonkers, I started writing about my fuck ups which seemed to help others with their fuck ups, and writing and consulting became a thing.
Fucking up isn’t just part of the process… it is the process
3 years on, the principles I have learned 👆 from my spectacular fuck up has changed my perspective on life entirely.
I no longer give a fuck about fucking up. While I’d rather not fuck up. I am at peace with fucking up. You see, fucking up is just another step closer to not fucking up.
Success in our careers is about fucking up and iterating until we’re no longer fucking up.
This is the ethos of entrepreneurship.
Product or service market fit is really just a systemised series of fuck ups performed and tested consistently to reduce fucks ups with a goal of reaching zero fuck ups.
Fucked up club is the same side of the
‘subtle art of not giving a fuck’ coin.
Not giving a fuck about fucking up disempowers the fear of fucking up. It is the
fear of fucking up that leads to poor performance.
The more times we swing the bat, the more times we will strike out, and conversely the more times we will hit it out of the park.
Succeeding is basic math, really. 👇
Babe Ruth simultaneously held the record for the most home runs and strikeouts for decades Fucking up + Experimenting + More Fucking Up + Iteration = Success. Subscribe now Backward Law
Alan Watts the modern British philosopher, often talked about backward law. I have
written about it many times myself. “When you try and float on the surface of the water, you sink; but when you try to sink, you float’ and that ‘insecurity is the result of trying to be secure’ — Alan Watts
The backward law here is: fucking up is caused by the fear of fucking up.
Perfection massively fucks up our potential because we don’t want to come across as:
Stupid Shit Cringe A failure
So you either don’t finish your work or you dilute it to such an extent that it becomes insignificant.
If we don’t break the cycle we will live our whole lives with unfulfilled potential and regrets.
The permission to fuck up is the key to high creative performance.
In 2015 Google conducted research into the traits of their most successful product teams.
They called it
The Aristotle Project.
They looked into 180 of the highest-performing teams in Google to assess the common factors for their success.
They were shocked…
It was not the level of education, the background, or the experience of the teams, it was whether psychological safety was present within the team ( Duhigg, 2016)
Harvard Professor, Amy Edmondson described psychological safety as
“ a belief that one will not be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns or mistakes, and that the team is safe for risk-taking”
In other words, the key to Google’s best-performing teams was
the permission to fuck up.
And it’s not just Google that uses the permission to fuck up methodology as a high-performance creative tool.
The #1 ingredient in the secret sauce of Apple, Pixar, and Tesla is allowing their innovation teams to take risks and fuck up, thus unshackling their full creative power.
The permission to fuck up massively increases creativity, risk-taking and chances of innovation success. Quality Vs Quantity
To create quality you have to first produce quantity.
To create genius you must give yourself permission to fuck up.
David Bowie released over 400 songs in his career. Less than 10% of them were hits.
That doesn’t mean the others weren’t good songs, it just means they didn’t capture the public’s imagination enough to become hits.
Bowie would have written thousands of songs. He only recorded the best ones, and less than 10% of them became hits.
To be a big success, you have to be a big failure.
The people who succeed are the ones who can consistently fuck up — and carry on.
Share The Art Of Fucking Up
We only have two options.
A) either change the situation or B) change how you feel about the situation.
We can’t change fucking up. It’s part of life. Therefore we can only change how we
feel about fucking up.
This will determine whether you fulfil your potential or not.
Perfectionism and fear of failure create anxiety because of uncertainty.
“Will I succeed or will I fail?!?!” “Will my content blow up or will it be rejected?!?!”
Humans fucking hate uncertainty. It’s the root of our anxiety.
To remove the anxiety you have to remove the uncertainty.
You will fuck up. We all will.
We’re not counting beans here. We’re creating work and leveraging ideas that have never existed before.
Fucking up is inevitable with creativity. If we’re not fucking up then we’re not being creative!
To succeed as a creator, entrepreneur or a personal brand we must embrace the art of fucking up as a concept.
This removes the uncertainty which in turn removes the anxiety.
We have to change our
relationship with fucking up. It’s not something to fear, it’s something to embrace as a tool to leverage our impact.
Once we give ourselves permission to fuck up we start taking more risks, pushing creative boundaries and producing our best work.
The Fear Of Failure Dragon
Embracing fucking up as a high creative performance tool is not fucking easy.
Our fear runs deep in our souls. There’s a wall that surrounds our true creative self guarded by the fear of failure dragon.
It chokes our talent and crushes our potential.
If we don’t slay the dragon we will live our entire lives without ever touching the sides of our creative potential.
And that, dear reader, is tragic!
We’ve all spent our lives running and hiding from the dragon. The only way to defeat it is to stand toe to toe with it.
We repeatedly expose ourselves to our biggest fear until it no longer yields any power over us.
My biggest fear was putting myself out there. That was fuelled by my fear of failure and my fear of rejection.
I was 50 when I started my TikTok. That was my first ever public-facing social media account such was the degree of my perfectionism.
I challenged myself to post 30 videos in 30 days. It took me two weeks to build up the courage to start.
My first video took over a dozen takes and it’s dog shite. Most successful creators delete their early videos.
They want to give you the impression that they have always been comfortable on camera.
I haven’t. Because I want everyone to see them. To see how terrified and wooden I was.
I want you to see my imperfection so it will hopefully inspire you to give yourself permission to fuck up.
Personally, I can’t watch them. I cringe at the thought of them but I’m also proud of them.
Why? Because they represent the courage it took to post them despite the dragon bearing down on me.
I have posted circa 150 videos. I don’t even think twice about doing videos now.
It’s a piece of piss. I have slayed my dragon. And it has changed my life and my career.
That may sound hyperbolic but it’s true. I wouldn’t be writing this to you if I had obeyed the dragon.
But here’s the real deal. I haven’t killed my fears. I have built courage.
Fears still live within me. They always will.
I’ve never created a digital course before. I’m completely out of my comfort zone.
I get scared.
The dragon is bearing down on me again.
But now I have courage. I kicked the dragon's ass before and I know I can do it again.
Confidence ebbs and flows but courage is permanent.
This is the biggest difference I’ve noticed.
I still have fear-based thoughts…
“Who do you think you are to create a course?!” “It’s shit.” “you’re not good enough!” etc, etc
The difference now is I no longer believe them
And when you don’t believe the thoughts they simply fade away.
Thoughts only yield power over us when we believe what they say to be true.
When we create evidence to contradict our self-talk it loses all its power.
Can you imagine how liberating it is to be free from sabotaging self-talk? What could you achieve you if you got out of your own way? These were the questions I asked myself before I started my 30 day TikTok challenge. As difficult as it was it’s been a complete and utter game-changer.
The permission to fuck up is one of the frameworks I’m teaching in step-by-step detail in my digital course.
The course will be out soon. Start recording next week. 🙌
Thanks for reading
If you want to get unstuck in your career and slay your dragons then book a 1:1 session