The Incremental Formula for Success and Failure

The only thing more rare than instant failure is instant success. It does happen on rare occasion. But in almost every instance success and failure are the result of an incremental process that takes months or years to occur. The success philosopher Jim Rohn wrote:

“Failure is not a single, cataclysmic event. We do not fail overnight. Failure is the inevitable result of an accumulation of poor thinking and poor choices. To put it more simply, failure is nothing more than a few errors in judgment repeated every day.

Now why would someone make an error in judgment and then be so foolish as to repeat it every day? The answer is because he or she does not think that it matters.”

If you eat one doughnut your health will not fail. It will not kill you. And that is exactly what you think, one doughnut will not kill me. Nor will one cigarette or one day without exercise. One night of not enough sleep will not kill you. Failing to read a good book in three months will not lead to ignorance or failure. But repeat these things over and over and failure will result. Do the right things, eating that apple or getting enough sleep or getting exercise – do those things with regularity and success occurs.

The Formula for Failure

Rohn observed, “Failure’s most dangerous attribute is its subtlety. In the short term those little errors don’t seem to make any difference. We do not seem to be failing. In fact, sometimes these accumulated errors in judgment occur throughout a period of great joy and prosperity in our lives. Since nothing terrible happens to us, since there are no instant consequences to capture our attention, we simply drift from one day to the next, repeating the errors, thinking the wrong thoughts, listening to the wrong voices and making the wrong choices. The sky did not fall in on us yesterday; therefore the act was probably harmless. Since it seemed to have no measurable consequence, it is probably safe to repeat.

On their own, our daily acts do not seem that important. A minor oversight, a poor decision, or a wasted hour generally doesn’t result in an instant and measurable impact. More often than not, we escape from any immediate consequences of our deeds.”

The Formula for Success

Success is the result of the sustained practice of doing the right things. It is the result of disciplined repetition. Doing the right thing over and over leads to success. Doing one thing once is not what is required. The success mentality looks far into the future and recognizes that what we do regularly, what we do every day, leads to success, or failure.

This ability to look into the future and see the collective result of repeated efforts (or failures) is what distinguishes success from failure. Allowing oneself to be caught up in the instant moment and disregarding the long term cumulative effect of what we do leads to failure.

Jim Rohn left a treasure of wisdom like this.

Read Jim Rohn’s full article here.

Learn more about Jim Rohn and his teachings on personal development and creating wealth here.

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.