Tag: why you should care

Why You Should Care That Mike Tyson Lost $400 Million

There is nothing more painful than failure.
I was just in Sweden speaking at Uppsala University outside of Stockholm.

After my talk a student came to me privately about an idea he had for a new iPhone app.

He looked me straight in the eyes and said, “Tai, I am afraid to fail.”

I can relate.

If you own a business or are thinking of starting one I guarantee you that at some point the fear of failing will keep you up late at night.

Today for the Book Of The Day, I read “The Art Of War” by Sun Tzu.

The Art Of War Sun Tzu

This ancient Chinese book is the “business Bible” for many top CEO’s and entrepreneurs.

Rick Wartzman, executive director of The Drucker Institute says, “Ask business people to peg the writer whose thinking is most clearly reflected in both military and corporate circles, and odds are that you’ll hear the name Sun Tzu.”

Even non business leaders read it. The NFL coach Bill Belichick used Tzu’s lessons to win football games. The soccer coach Carlos Alberto Parreira Scolari made the Brazilian World Cup squad of 2002 study its words.

Brazilian World Cup

I read this book at least twice a year. It always offers some new business insights every time I read it.

In Chapter 8 Sun Tzu says about the cause of failure:

“…the cause will surely be found among… 5 dangerous faults. Let them be a subject of meditation.”

How can these five dangerous faults destroy your business?

Let me start by saying that the Swedish student’s fear of failure is understandable.

No one wants to be the one on Donald Trump’s TV show, The Apprentice, who hears the dreaded phrase, “You’re Fired!”

Some studies show that humans fear things they can fail at (like public speaking) more than actually dying.

Here is the list of common fears from one survey in 1977 asked to 3000 Americans:

The 14 Worst Human Fears – Biggest Fear % named:

Speaking before a group
Insects and bugs
Financial Problems
Deep water
Driving/riding in a car

Glenn Croston, Ph.D. says that, “Humans evolved over the last few million years in a world filled with risks like large predators and starvation… early humans were probably commonly hunted by a wealth of large predators.

Saber Tooth Tiger

One common defense to predation displayed by primates and other animals is to live in groups.

The advantages of living in a group probably are the reason why early humans and other large primates evolved to be social, and why we are still social today.

Failure to be a part of the social group, getting kicked out, probably spelled doom for early humans. Anything that threatens our status in our social group, like the threat of ostracism, feels like a very great risk to us.

‘Ostracism appears to occur in all social animals that have been observed in nature,’ said Kip Williams, a professor of psychological sciences at Purdue who has studied ostracism. ‘To my knowledge, in the animal kingdom, ostracism is not only a form of social death, it also results in death.

The animal is unable to protect itself against predators, cannot garner enough food, etc., and usually dies within a short period of time,’ said Williams.”

We fear failure because we fear being kicked out of our social group.

If fear is so innate to the human mind we should probably forget about trying to completely get rid of all our fears.

It’s better to follow what Merck’s CEO Dick Clark said, “A crisis is a terrible thing to waste.”

Use your fear of failure as a tool to drive you to make fewer mistakes.

Sun Tzu says of the clever warrior, “He wins his battles by making no mistakes. Making no mistakes is what establishes the certainty of victory…”

It reminds me of what Joel Salatin told me when I was 18 years old. I was in the first week of a 2.5 year apprenticeship on his Polyface farm and Joel sat in his kitchen and said, “Tai I only have one rule. You are not allowed to make any mistakes.”Joel Salatin and Polyface farms

That rule woke me up. I remember getting in my old Pontiac Grand Am and driving to a little general store and buying a whole bunch of notepads.

This was before smart phones so I always kept a little “Clark Kent/Superman” reporter notepad in my back pocket to write down everything Joel told me.

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