I recently decided to catalogue my failures. Areas in work and life where I feel I did not meet my goals and failed clearly. The list was long. Here is a few samples:

  • Launched a book in college which hardly sold any copies
  • Launched a magazine which went bust after 6 months
  • Tried to acquire a large Indian listed company and failed at getting investors
  • Started an investment training program with great success but did not continue
  • Tried losing weight with diet x,y and z – utter and complete failure
  • Did not invest in relationships with friends
  • Failed in brand launches in many markets
  • Entered into electoral politics, won a few stages and did not continue
  • After spectacular success at work winning awards, failed the next year to hit targets
  • Ran away from home to join the army but was rejected by the army

The list is really long. I also analysed why I failed. Again the reasons fell into 3 buckets

  1. Losing interest in the idea after a promising initial start – After the initial burst of energy I lost focus on the idea and moved onto something else.
  2. Mistaking Ideas for Execution – Focus on the brilliance of the idea, not the details of the execution needed to make the idea real.
  3. Excited about the vision and the destination but not about the steps needed to make things real.

When I thought about it further it became clear that underlying all the failures, in all cases was one singular learning – We fail when we fail to persist. We almost always overestimate what we can do in the short term and overestimate what we can do in the long term. Progress needs daily discipline and execution. Small wins, done regularly with focus bring long term success. The end vision and goal, while appealing can actually distract from the daily work and grind needed to succeed.

On the other hand every single area where I had done well – in my work career, in marriage, in writing my blog, in launching new ventures the focus had moved very quickly to the execution and details of what needed to be done and a quiet persistence to do it until we succeeded.

So the one common learning, the bedrock universal quality that will bring you success in every single endeavor is persistence – to stick with it no matter what and keep moving forward.

The way to build persistence is to practice what I call the D3 method – Daily Determined Discipline. Every single day you take a few steps to your goal with discipline. If the goal is to get fitter it may mean a few more minutes of exercise or one less toast of bread. If it means winning new business it means 1-2 more customer calls and focus in those calls to get better. When you put in Daily Determined Discipline, in the long run it is impossible to fail. You will become so good at what you do, that success will seem it comes easily and naturally.

Persist with Daily Determined Discipline. It is the one secret that trumps all others.

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