The Road to Success is Paved with Accelerated Failures
“The road to success is paved with accelerated failures.”
– AWAI Co-Founder, Mark Ford
We were all taught that Thomas Edison was a genius.
But according to historical accounts, he failed 10,000 times in his storage battery experiments.
When asked about these failures, Edison replied:
“Why, I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
Can you imagine failing 10,000 times?! The man was fearless!
Failure is a fear we writers know all too well …
And when you’re new to the world of paid writing, it can paralyze you from even getting started in the first place.
It’s always been one of my biggest fears in life.
As a mom, a wife, a friend, a writer, a business owner … as a college student … even as a Girl Scout selling cookies (!) … I’ve feared failure for as long as I can remember.
Except in marketing.
When it comes to marketing, failure doesn’t faze me one bit.
I fail all the time. And I’m ok with it!
Because I know the failures make me more successful in the long run.
And the same is true to you as a writer, too.
Let me explain …
Early on in my career, I was told that if I wasn’t failing, I wasn’t marketing enough. 🤯
The key was to uncover why I failed and improve upon the lesson … ultimately becoming more effective.
When I eventually found my dream job here at AWAI, I went through our Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting and came across a short section called “The Theory of Accelerated Failures,” written by AWAI Co-Founder, Mark Ford.
And I realized how valuable failures are to writers, too.
According to Mark’s theory, the way to become truly successful as a writer is twofold:
- You must be willing to make mistakes.
- You need to make most of your mistakes in the beginning of your career, and then immediately correct them.
It goes like this …
Let’s say you’ve just written your first email series.
You’ve gone through our How to Write High Impact Emails program, put a lot of good work into writing an email series for a client, and you’re pleased with what you’ve done.
You send the series off, feeling proud and full of confidence.
They cut you a check for $1,500. Life is good!
But when you ask the client for the results (always ask for the results!), you find out it performed mediocre at best.
What went wrong?!
After the initial disappointment subsides, you sit down and review the entire series more thoroughly. And right then, you see the mistake …
Your copy wasn’t directed towards the reader! You talk way too much about your own experience, and never really show your reader how your experience would help them.
What do you do now?
Apply the theory of accelerated failures …
Step 1: Realize that you, like everyone else in the world, make mistakes.
And remember that since this was your first email series, it would be unrealistic to expect gangbuster results.
Step 2: After you’ve accepted the fact that you made a mistake, you must then address the second half of the theory …
Correct the mistake immediately!
Go back to your How to Write High-Impact Emails program and learn how to better establish intimacy with your reader.
Spend some time practicing these techniques again … and again … until you have them down.
NOW, you’re a better writer thanks to your “failure.”
And the next time it happens, you simply follow the same process …
- Figure out what mistake you made
- Correct it
- Learn from it
- And make sure it doesn’t happen again!
You WILL make mistakes …
But in each effort you make, you’ll be making “smarter” and “smarter” mistakes.
That’s the power that comes from accelerated failures.
When you start looking at failures this way, you see them as gifts, and instead of trying to ignore them, will actually seek them out.
Failures force you to look in new directions, approach different angles, and continuously learn.
And that’s what will make you a stronger and more successful writer.
Of course, this is true outside of the writing world, too …
Most extremely successful people reached that status because they weren’t afraid to make mistakes … and because they quickly learned from them.
Think about it …
Oprah Winfrey was fired from her TV anchor job. If she let that get to her, she would never have become a billionaire with an entertainment empire …
Michael Jordan would never have become one of the greatest basketball players of all time if he stopped after he was cut from his high school team …
And Stephen King would never have gone on to be one of the most famous authors in the world if he hadn’t stayed the course when his first book, Carrie, was rejected 30(!) times.
As for Thomas Edison and his 10,000 failures …
He went on to win 141 patents for storage batteries, as well as 389 for electric light and power, 195 for the phonograph, 150 for the telegraph, and 34 for the telephone, among many others!
1,093 patents in all.
So, go make lots of mistakes.
And then quickly learn from them and try again. 😉
Is the fear of failure holding you back from a life of well-paid writing? Or is it something else? Post in the comments below … I’d love to see if I can help!
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Yes fear has been holding me back for far too long. Just this past weekend I thought to myself, I need to be fearless. I was thinking of putting that on my car license plate to serve as a daily reminder. Great article. Thanks for the encouragement!
Michele E –
@Michele - you can do this! Even if you can't be fearless, commit to "doing it anyways." Fear will always be there. But the more you practice doing it anyways - in any aspect of life - the easier time you have of conquering it the next time. Let us know how we can help! - Rebecca
Rebecca Matter –
You nailed it!
Guest (Jay) –