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Life’s easy button?

“Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for.”
–Zig Ziglar

James Altucher has had ups and downs in his life.

The founder of StockTwits has been a millionaire before. Then he lost everything. Then he gained it back.

He’s not your prototypical success story. He’s not even your prototypical “average person” story.

After all, there aren’t that many people who have been millionaires, much less lost it all, and then made it all back.

In his book Choose Yourself, he describes what he felt like when he had hit bottom – having lost his fortune and seriously considering whether killing himself because of his $4 million life insurance policy.

At that point, he decided that he needed to live in the present.

He calls thinking too much about the past or the future time travel. When you time travel, you either worry over things that you can no longer change – the past – or about things that may not work out the way that you expect them to – the future.

But, at his nadir, he was having trouble focusing on the present. He was having trouble doing anything except feel sorry for himself and question his worth to society.

So, he started expressing gratitude. Two of the twenty-six items in his “daily practice” involve expressing gratitude. He later advises a reader who has eight days to make rent to start the day by listing out things to be thankful for and telling friends how thankful he is to have them in his life.

Altucher advises living in a state of gratitude and not time traveling. But, does being grateful now and living in the present help you in the future?

According to Harvard’s Jennifer Lerner and her team, the answer is yes.

How Gratitude Now Makes the Future More Important

The Mental Challenge of Keeping a Manager Who Has Failed Fast

failure

But is your job on the line when you do?

“If at first you don’t succeed, destroy all evidence that you have tried.”
–Steven Wright

Most entrepreneurs love to embrace new buzzwordy business styles.

Six sigma.

Lean.

Lean six sigma.

Agile.

Flat organizations.

No titles.

Lean six sigma flat org charts with no titles.

Fail fast.

I’ve dealt with all of these types of organizations in my professional career.

Creating an organization that embraced failing fast was the most difficult one.

Why is that?

We hate losses.

Just as we saw in “Why Past Performance Indicates Your Future Investing Actions,” we get more pain out of losing something that we get joy out of winning or earning an equivalent amount. In the book Thinking Fast and Slow, Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahnemann posits that the ratio of pain to joy is 2 to 1. For example, if you lost $100, you’d feel twice as much pain as you would joy at winning $100.

So, in an organization, no matter how fast you fail, failure is still failure.

As an entrepreneur or a small business owner, you usually only have the capital to make a limited number of small bets to try to make what you’re producing catch on. While ideally, the first thing you go after will catch wildfire and make your organization explode with demand, you probably have a set of opportunities to pursue that you manage much like an investment portfolio.

If one of your efforts is going to fail (which some invariably will), then you want to find out sooner rather than later. You want to save money. You want to reinvest that capital in something else which might work out. You don’t want to starve other projects of funds that could help them reach a tipping point.

Therefore, you want your people to take risks, find out what works, and, just as importantly, find out what does not work.

But, once a project fails, no matter how hard you try, there is a stigma.

The word failure has negative connotations. You’d rather not fail at all. Failing fast is the lesser evil to failing slowly, but it’s still worse than succeeding.

What Happens to the Manager Who Has Failed Fast?

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