Why You Failed

Of course you didn’t fail at everything.  You did fail at something, and there was a reason.  (Unless you are the first person in history to never fail, in which case you are very boring and I will not invite you to a party at my home).

Why did you fail at that thing?

It is in many cases caused by over-conservation of resources.  Sometimes we hold back full effort, not wanting to risk resources that we would lose if we fail.  We cut our losses before we even start.

Stevan Hobfoll’s Conservation of Resources theory (1989) posits that people build and protect their resources.  Hobfoll theorized about four types of resources: objects (homes, etc.), energy (such as money and time), personal characteristics (like traits that can help gather other resources), and conditions (like marriage or position of seniority).

When you try, you make an in investment of one or more resources. If you then fail, you lose those resources which could have been used for future endeavors.  The loss might be in any of the four resource types, but particularly energy and positions.  So you don’t give 100 percent in the moment.  So you fail.

Example: you decide to try selling life insurance.  Because have a large network of friends who respect your investment savvy, you believe you will be successful.  But you become nervous that people MIGHT decide the insurance product is not a good option.  If that happens, you MIGHT lose the respect of your network.  If so, the next time you try to sell an investment product, your friends MIGHT not buy it because they no longer respect you (remember the life insurance fiasco?)  Might, might, might.  The result: as you begin selling, you don’t emotionally commit to the product.  People feel you don’t believe in it, so they don’t buy, so you fail.

Don’t hold back.  Lean in.

What are you trying to learn?  What are your struggles?  What issues would you like me to address?  How exactly can I help you?

I would like to hear from you.  Either leave a comment, or confidentially contact me at Brock@BrockStout.org.

Published by Brock Stout, PhD

Brock has helped many people to be extremely successful. He has lived in various countries and has enjoyed several careers, but is now a writer and a career coach. He sustained mild lead poisoning as a child, resulting in neurological damage. The result was a life of learning disabilities, always struggling to keep up. But he completed two degrees from competitive universities, then advised Wall Street executives in Asia for 15 years. He later earned a PhD and worked as a university professor for six years. He has started three profitable companies in between. So he particularly wants to help those with special learning challenges. Because so many of us now have these special challenges, they are no longer special. But they are challenges. He wants you to TEACH YOURSELF how to be successful.

2 thoughts on “Why You Failed

  1. Great post. Words of wisdom! And I love the graphic of the Hindenburg as an iconic reference for failure. I actually met one of the last two living survivors of the Hindenburg, and have been to his home several times. He had no idea why it failed, but he’s heard the theories. But despite the colossal failure, he’s glad he participated and it helped him get his next job. Which sorta proves your point.


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