Legalize failures and focus on the next step
'Cause you can’t control the outcomes
I hope you're doing alright. As for me, I had one of the most productive months of the year. Thanks to short vacations in Moscow and Tula, I came home inspired, energetic, and hungry for work.
After a month of hard work I decided to spend last weekend with my wife in Ufa, a city located in the Southern Urals. It’s famous for it’s amazing mountain landscapes, beekeeping and honey production. The insight of the week is linked with this trip, so keep reading.
P. S. That's me in the photo drinking Bashkir tea in Ufa. The heart on the wall is for you!
Insight of the week. Don’t try to control the outcomes
It’s been three days since my wife and I returned home from a short trip to Ufa, the capital city of Bashkortostan. It was our first trip together in six months, so we were expecting it like never before.
We did all we could to make this trip joyful and pleasant: booked a good four-star hotel, asked our friends to recommend us good restaurants and cafes, and made a list of places to visit and local food we should try. However, everything that could go wrong went wrong on that trip.
The mishaps started right after we arrived. We planned this short vacation a month ago to get to the concert of Pompeya, a Russian indie-rock band that sings in English. The organization was so bad that there was a cram. As the gig started, soon my we were squeezed between two flows of people like rye in the windmill. So, we had to leave and listened the rest of the show from the distance.
For the next two days, bad luck followed us everywhere we went. We encountered indifference from waiters and baristas, rudeness from people in the street, and prying eyes of random passersby. In all the restaurants we’ve been to the food was unsavory or cooked in some weird way. For example, in one place we were served an Italian pizza with dill, and in some other—a waiter brought eggs Benedict that were watery.
The city of Ufa is a nice place from an urbanist perspective: there are many parks and green cozy alleys, breathtaking landscapes, lots of old merchant houses, and unique local wooden architecture. But we didn’t have a chance to enjoy the city, because we didn't feel welcomed there.
Even though I can’t say our trip was a pleasant experience, we accepted it and tried our best to enjoy it anyway. As soon as we realized things weren’t going the way we wanted, we made up our minds to accept anything that would happen and live every moment as is, not trying to control the consequences of our choices.
The only two things you can control in life are your perception of events and your attitude to the impact they have on your life. You have the power to make conclusions and decisions you think are best for you. But you can’t control the outcomes.
You can design a great process, tweak your mind to the right tune, thoroughly manage your daily routine, and still get the wrong result. It’s insane, but it happens every day. And when it does, it’s crucial to focus on the next attempt rather than the outcome you are aiming for.
You never know for 100% that everything will go the way you’ve planned. There’s no a 100% working solution that will lead you to success. There are no magic pills. The previous experience that worked in the past can become a letdown or another pitfall in the present. The only reliable tactic is to keep trying and not be afraid of failure.
Failures always come with stress, and it’s a good thing. Stress kept our ancestors looking for a better place to settle. Stress and hunger kept them seeking an easier and more reliable way to get food—that's how livestock and crop production emerged.
Stress and failures are the essences of life, without them, we’d be extinct. So if you’re feeling stressed right now, that’s OK. You can’t completely remove stress from your life, but you can change your attitude toward it. Legalize failures, let them be. Then your attitude to the stress caused by failures will change, too.
Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional. The same goes for failures and stress.
Legalizing failures is the healthiest way to handle stress. By changing your attitude to setbacks you can greatly reduce the amount of stress in life. This will release more time for new attempts and ideas, and allow you to see solutions that were unavailable to you before.
Accept failure when it comes your way. Never think you’d fail, but also never regret it when you do. Go forward, do your best, and never look back. Then it’ll be easy for you to start over as if nothing bad happened at all. That’s the best way to master the game. Any game.
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Leadership principle. Focus on the next step
We tend to plan everything, foresee all possible options, calculate all risks, to think about ways to retreat in advance. Most often in vain. This strategy is ineffective, 'cause most of our fears never come true. But there will always be something we couldn’t anticipate.
Our brain constantly wants certainty, otherwise it begins to think we are in danger. But visualizing the future in detail is too costly for the brain. And when our expectations don’t match reality, it’s also painful for the psyche. Instead of trying to predict our future we should focus on the next step. It’s a gentler approach, with no pressure and stress.
The most important step in your life is the next step. Not the one from five years ago, not the one you’ll take a year from now. Just the next step of yours.
It’s necessary to have a vision, but big goals can be intimidating. If you have a big goal or task in front of you and you have no idea where to start, how to approach it, try not to think of it as a big goal. Instead, think of what your next step might be and take it. This little trick will help you overcome the numbness and begin to act.
Writing trick. Start with questions, not writing
One of the most common mistakes writers do is writing without research. That’s one of the reasons so many authors have a writing block and wrinkle their foreheads over the blank sheet. They simply don’t have an idea what they’re going to write about!
If you don't know how to start a text, you probably don't know the topic or haven't studied enough about the subject you're trying to cover.
It may sound ridiculous, but writing doesn’t begin by opening a laptop or picking a pen and a notebook. The stories are born in your mind, not on the screen of your laptop. That’s why I recommend starting with questions and researching the topic in the first place.
Imagine that you’re writing a commercial copy for the website. Schedule a call or a meeting with a client and ask them about their business. Where their strengths lie, how they managed to overcome the previous crisis, how they see their mission, and why their product is considered the best on the market. Of course, questions may differ depending on the area you’re working in.
Ask as many questions as you can find, don’t interrupt, just listen and make notes. Now that you have all the necessary ingredients for your story, wait till it gets done. It works the same way we make soup: we put the ingredients in the pot and then leave it on the stove till it’s ready. The more complex the topic the more time it may require to research and get things clear. Sometimes I need to hold several meetings with a client before I can draw the first draft.
Never start writing until you have the whole story unfolded in your head until you know exactly what you’re going to write about. When you know how you’re going to tell your story, writing a good text will become a matter of your skill and experience, not talent or inspiration.
The hardest part of writing is to find a metaphor to convey the principal idea of your story clearly and succinctly. When you find one, it's easy to unfold the story. Questions and research help you decompose the problem you’re trying to solve for a reader. So, ask questions, listen carefully, and you won’t miss your metaphor.
Photo of the week
A basketball game at the creative space called “Art-Kvadrat” was one of the highlights of my trip to Ufa. I didn’t expect basketball to be so popular in Bashkiria, as in Tyumen where I live you won’t see the crowd this big watching a streetball game. I liked it so much that it made me think about buying a ball to practice shooting.
That’s it for today. Hope you’ve enjoyed this email. And if you have, share it with your friends and people who may like it. I’ll appreciate your support and feedback.
See you in two weeks.
Tyumen, 12 August 2022
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