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Failures are our best teachers ★

Yesterday I woke up at 5 a.m. and couldn’t sleep. Trying to fall asleep again, I caught myself ruminating the following words in my head: “Failures are our best teachers”. Suddenly the whole story started to unfold in my mind, so I jumped up, took my laptop and started typing it until I lost my train of thought.

Half an hour later, I had a draft about the benefits that failures and mistakes bring us. Thus was born this post and Twitter thread for Timestripe.

Failures are the best teachers. Here are eight reasons why:

  1. Mistakes increase importance of wins. Failures teach us so much more than any success could ever teach. If it weren’t for our failures we wouldn’t value our wins and achievements, because there wouldn’t be anything to measure or compare them by.
  2. Continuous success blinds us with illusions. Successful projects and positive outcomes are necessary, but they don’t teach us much. Instead, they make us get along with the idea that if it worked this time it will always work in the future. But it won’t. That’s a cognitive bias we get trapped into. Failures, on the other hand, teach us that if something didn’t work it didn’t work only here and now in this very conditions, in this context, on this project. It doesn’t mean it’s impossible or it won’t work some other time in some other place.
  3. Failures teach us patience. Having failed doesn’t mean we should stop trying. Failing at something teaches us to be patient and persistent about our approach. We learn to make projects and achieve results with a small steps strategy, not by making one perfect decision.
  4. Failing shows it’s OK to be wrong. It’s not the end of the world. Everyone makes mistakes. Even the great minds did. Why should we be perfect? There’s no need for that, no one expects that from us. We’re only expected to fulfill the commitments we’ve made. Nothing else.
  5. Mistakes encourage us to enhance our process. Failures help us discover the hidden power of limitations: time, money, and our physical capabilities. Any project has a limited amount of money and a deadline. Nor can we be productive six-eight hours in a row. Limitations help us find a solution within our available sources.
  6. Failures teach us to value the way, not the goals. Failures and limitations teach us to be flexible and not to put all our money and time on one great idea that will do all the work. Instead, we become more committed to consistency and methodicality rather than an occasional success. They matter more in the long run.
  7. Having failed doesn’t equal being bad at something. In the end, failures don’t define us as bad workers and contractors, or as being bad at our craft. They only mean that we chose the wrong way to solve the problem, and now we’re going to find another one until we find the right solution.
  8. To learn and improve you should be ready to fail. Writing this thread I recalled a good dialogue from “Game of thrones” that happened between Jon Snow and sir Davos Seaworth after Jon’s resurrection:

Jon: I did what I thought was right. And I got murdered for it. And now I’m back. Why?

Sir Davos: I don’t know. Maybe we’ll never know. What does it matter? You go on. You fight for as long as you can. You clean up as much of the shit as you can.

Jon: I don’t know how to do that. I thought I did, but… I failed.

Sir Davos: Good. Now go fail again.

If you’ve failed recently, don’t panic. Don’t stop dreaming, and don’t stop moving forward. Just go fail again.


This post was initially published as a thread on Twitter and in Timestripe Journal. Subscribe to Timestripe to receive new posts right into your inbox.

Not all Russians are Russian

In Russian language there’re two different words: rossiyskiy and russkiy.

The first one—rossiyskiy—refers to the country, government and means something that was produced in Russia. For example, Russian president, Russian citizen, Russian smartphone Yota, Russian cars.

The second—russkiy—is used for nationality or cultural aspects. For instance, to be Russian, listen to Russian songs, Russian folklore.

As you may notice, in English there’s only one word “Russian” for both meanings. That’s why most English-speaking people don’t distinguish the difference between being Russian and being from Russia.

Besides Russians there’re over 100 nationalities in Russia: Tatars, Ukrainians, Belarusians, Armenians, Azerbaijani, Georgians etc. All of them are Russian citizens. See the difference now?

So don’t be surprised to have the following chat:

  • — Where are you from?
  • — Russia.
  • — Are you Russian?
  • — No, I’m Uzbek.

Multitasking sucks

There were times when I loved doing several things simultaneously. I could make a soup and at the same time discuss another website layout, write a newsletter and watch a TV show. Over time I’ve realized that multitasking almost always sucks, and here’s why.

  1. Only few people in this world can multitask and deliver great results. There’re almost none.
  2. The desire to complete two different things at one is a pathetic attempt to buy some time. Both are likely to be done badly.
  3. Multitasking is often used in the wrong places. It leads to mistakes, sometimes fatal.

To figure out when it’s okay to multitask and when it’s not, I follow a simple method.

If the task doesn’t require thinking and analyzing new information—cleaning, washing dishes, walking through the park—it can be combined with another activity. For example, I make half of my calls and team meetings on the go, because I can move my legs without thinking about it.

However, if the task requires you to immerse yourself into the topic, to constantly assess the situation, to watch for safety—meeting with a new client, playing basketball, or driving a car—you'd better put everything else on hold and focus. Otherwise, you might miss a crucial idea of the talk or get hit in the face with a ball. And if you’re checking your phone while driving or crossing the street, you may die eventually.

I’m not a fan of multitasking, and I hate it when it is mispresented as a criterion for success. But at the same time, I love variety. I enjoy running several projects at once, meeting new people every day, and visiting different cities. The variety is in the spice of life! It inspires me and gives me food for thought. But doing several tasks at once — fuck this. It’s highly likely to turn out to be bullshit.

One message, one idea

If you want to be heard, follow a simple “One message, one idea” rule in your texts, emails, websites, and presentations. Don’t overload your audience with details, keep it simple.

One sentence, one idea. One paragraph, one idea. One essay, one idea. One post, one idea. See, I just did it!

The most important step in your life ★

We tend to plan everything, to foresee all possible options, to 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.

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.

Make a plan

Having a plan helps our mind avoid panicking and makes it easy to star acting. Stop wasting your time, make a plan. It’s the first step on the way to your goal.

Being wrong

The hardest thing to do when you’re wrong is to accept that it’s only your fault and responsibility, but no one else’s. It’s incredibly difficult to admit when you’re wrong.

It takes a great courage to stand up and say, “Yeah, I failed. I am sorry for that. I was wrong.” Very few people are capable of taking such a step. If you can do that, you have reason to be proud of yourself.

The value of life ★

The secret of happiness can be revealed with a simple thought. Life is always beautiful. No matter what shit may come and happen, life is good simply because being alive is better than being dead.

Our life is very erratic and inconsistent. You won’t have forever what you have now in your life. Someday it will end. All of it. And there will be nothing to enjoy, nothing to look at, and nothing to regret about.

Even though sometimes life puts us to the test it doesn’t make life less precious and amazing. To live is always good. Remember that both in the moments of joy and in the moments of grief.

The value of life is in life itself, not in how easy or hard this life is for you.

Never be daunted

It’s hard to think clearly in difficult times. Fear paralyzes, impotence suppresses the mind, you feel dropped out.

The main principle that helps me keep my mind clear and sound is: “Continue going your way and don’t lose heart. Never lose heart.”

Not to lose your way, manage your focus and keep moving towards the goal when the world is on fire is an invaluable skill and strength. To remember that difficult times are not forever is a sign of incredible resilience.

Be strong and resilent. Continue on your way. Never be daunted.

So you want to be a writer?

If it doesn’t come bursting out of you
In spite of everything,
Don’t do it.
Unless it comes unasked out of your
Heart and your mind and your mouth
And your gut,
Don’t do it.
If you have to sit for hours
Staring at your computer screen
Or hunched over your typewriter
Searching for words,
Don’t do it.

If you’re doing it for money or fame,
Don’t do it.
If you’re doing it because you want
Women in your bed,
Don’t do it.
If you have to sit there and
Rewrite it again and again,
Don’t do it.
If it’s hard work just thinking about doing it,
Don’t do it.
If you’re trying to write like somebody else,
Forget about it.

If you have to wait for it to roar out of you,
Then wait patiently.
If it never does roar out of you,
Do something else.
If you first have to read it to your wife
Or your girlfriend or your boyfriend
Or your parents or to anybody at all,
You’re not ready.

Don’t be like so many writers,
Don’t be like so many thousands of
People who call themselves writers,
Don’t be dull and boring and
Pretentious, don’t be consumed with self-love.
The libraries of the world have
Yawned themselves to sleep
Over your kind.
Don’t add to that.
Don’t do it.

Unless it comes out of
Your soul like a rocket,
Unless being still would
Drive you to madness or
Suicide or murder,
Don’t do it.
Unless the sun inside you is
Burning your gut,
Don’t do it.

When it is truly time,
And if you have been chosen,
It will do it by
Itself and it will keep on doing it
Until you die or it dies in you.

There is no other way.
And there never was.

Charles Bukowski, 1920…1994