Reframing Failure: The 59 Biggest Business & Personal Lessons (and mistakes) of 2012

Reframing Failure: The 59 Biggest Business & Personal Lessons (and mistakes) of 2012

reframe failure

“Learn from your failure and it’s not failure. Do it again and it is.”

[Tweet this quote]

Three Important Updates: 

1. If you didn’t hear, the newly designed and updated 2013 Goal Setting and Action Workbook is live. You can download your totally free copy by clicking here. Consider it our New Year’s gift to you!

2. Congrats to Lucas, Jeremy, Mark, Jason and Heather for winning the comment contest at the end of December. We have already shipped you Barrie Davenport’s free 52-Week Life Passion Project Book & Workbook. It will go great with our Live Off Your Passion Course!

3. Oh and we’re trying out a new comment system this week that we’re hoping will help bring our community closer together and allow for more connection. If reading this in email please check it out, leave a comment and let us know what you think! Be sure to share your biggest lesson of 2012 too :).

Now for the big (and sometimes painful) lessons from 2012…


If You’re Learning, There Are No Mistakes

One thing I’ve learned over the years, and especially over the last few, is the more you do, the more you’ll screw up.

But I’ve also realized that screwing up is a good thing. As long as you learn and correct as a result.

It reminds me of the IBM employee who did something that cost the business $10 million. After a long chat with his boss, the employee said, “Wow, I thought you were going to fire me.” The boss responded, “Are you kidding? I just paid $10 million for your education. You’re not going anywhere!”

Every lesson is worth learning. But none of them are worth learning twice.

That’s why as part of my Weekly Planning Process (one of the free workbooks that’s part of our Passionate Work Toolkit), I spend at least a few minutes every Monday morning writing down every lesson from the previous week. Big or small, it doesn’t matter. You’d be surprised how many things we learn in a week. But if we don’t take a few minutes on a regular basis to stop, reflect and assimilate, then most of that education is all for nothing.

Since I’ve started to keep track of these bits of education, as well as the things I’m most proud of, that hour every Monday morning has become a highlight of my week.

Over the past few days, I reviewed every week from last year and cherry-picked the most powerful lessons learned. I hope they have been as helpful for you as they have been for me. I’ve also spread some of my favorite quotes from last year through the list, which is also part of my weekly process. And as it turned out, the posts I linked to below are the most popular and helpful ones from 2012.

If any of the lessons speak to you, I’ve made it easy to share them on Twitter using the links at the end of each.

Let the learning begin…

The Biggest Business Lessons & Mistakes of 2012

1. Focus is the key to the world. Focus on a few things and do them incredibly well. Thank my dad, Bill Dinsmore, for that one! [Tweet this lesson]

2. Focus on goals and outcomes that are in your control. It’s not about how much weight you lose, but how well you stuck to your diet and exercise routine. Control what you can control! [Tweet]

3. You cannot control the outcome. You can only control the process. Nail the process and you’ll get your outcome. [Tweet]

4. When on stage, tell stories, move around, change your voice, pause and have fun – that is what inspires! Thanks to Garth Brooks. [Tweet]

5. Stop trying to fix people. If someone has acted a certain way for years, don’t expect something different. Change your expectations. [Tweet]

“The first time someone shows you who they are, believe them.”

– Maya Angelou. [Tweet]

6. The more you help people, the better everything in life will be. Focus everything on helping those around you. [Tweet]

7. The more you do, the more you’ll do. Success begets success. Do stuff! [Tweet]

8. Health and working out are the most powerful productivity hacks of all time. Thanks, Richard Branson. [Tweet]

9. A message becomes a movement when every member of the mission becomes its leader. And when everyone starts to lead, a revolution begins. Thanks, Steve Kamb. [Tweet]

10. A movement isn’t about any one person. It is about what’s possible when everyone with the same beliefs come together to make magic. Live Your Legend is not my movement, it is OURS. That’s why we launched our monthly Living Legends Reader Spotlight last year. If you haven’t told us your story, please do – we’d love to feature you! [Tweet]

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

– Mahatma Gandhi [Tweet]

11. Video is huge for making an impact and connecting with people. That’s why we made it a huge part of How to Connect with Anyone.

12. Relationships are EVERYTHING. Nothing matters without them. With them anything is possible. [Tweet]

environment is everything

13. Despair = Suffering – Meaning. You must find meaning in everything! Thanks to Chip Conley for this one. [Tweet]

14. Digital communication is terrible for emotional topics. Make the effort to meet by phone or in person. Stop focusing on how much human you can take out of something — add it back in. Thanks to Simon Sinek for this one. [Tweet]

15. Innocence is so powerful – for connecting, for rapport, for everything. Embrace being a beginner. [Tweet]

16. Everything I learned from my weekend with Warren Buffett.

17. Do lean launches. You do not and should not have the whole thing built in advance. Sell, design, built — the most powerful way to build something that genuinely helps people. Thanks to Frank Robinson for this one. Priceless! [Tweet]

18. People, especially famous people, are not usually everything they seem. Be careful not to idolize and take their actions as gospel. [Tweet]

19. Know how you work best. What environment inspires you? What fuels you? For me, it’s a very planned schedule. For others it might be no schedule at all. Don’t try to be someone else. [Tweet]

20. Even if you could charge people for things, it doesn’t always mean you should. Give things away. Do things that make people’s day. It’s worth the cost. We give away more high quality free content on Live Your Legend than most any place on the Internet. If you haven’t seen our Passionate Work Toolkit yet, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. We spend a lot of time and money creating this stuff, and we love doing it for all you. That’s also why we mailed printed posters of our Connect with Anyone Creed to all 279 How to Connect with Anyone Charter Members in 25 countries around the world. It cost us about $10 per person and it was one of my favorite parts of the year. [Tweet]

21. Stop puffing your chest out. People love vulnerability. There is no better way to connect. Show who you are. Share your failures. Take a shot even though you might miss. This is why I am almost 100% sure that I am going to take on the biggest, scariest and most vulnerable project of my life this year — trying to build and launch a physical product as a living, breathing, real-time case study for all of us to learn and pursue together as it either eventually succeeds or fails. I’m okay being the fool who is the first one to start dancing. Especially if it makes those around me feel comfortable enough to join the party. [Tweet]

“If you tell them how good you are, you probably aren’t that good.”

– Danny Patterson  [Tweet]

22. Nature & travel are my very best places to reflect, think big and create. The worst place is in my office. [Tweet]

23. Step #1 of creating a product is creating a sales page. Force yourself to know your audience’s biggest pains and needs. Then build something that genuinely helps them. Thanks to Chris Guillebeau for that one. [Tweet]

24. Don’t plan every single thing out in advance. If you have a vision and know the first few steps, that’s enough to start. If you know everything involved before you begin, you’ll likely never start. [Tweet]

25. Most every mention of passive income is a flat-out lie. Even the guy who claims to make thousands while he travels the world for a year meeting women and sipping fine wine likely worked his ass off to set that up. Stop believing it’s easy. Then get to work. [Tweet]

“We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”

– John K. Kennedy [Tweet]

26. Treating your customers like friends and family is the most powerful differentiator on the planet. Pristine customer service builds a massive moat around your business. [Tweet]

27. Time is available for those who make time for it. If it matters enough to you, you’ll find the time. Thanks to Leo Babauta. [Tweet]

28. Writing and inspiration are habits to be developed. They’re not something you wait for. They’re something you do. If you’re a writer, then write. [Tweet]

29. All I learned from 2012 World Domination Summit: 74 Unconventional Stories, Ideas & Beliefs for Making an Unforgettable Impact in a Conventional World

believe in possibility

30. There is no more powerful way to influence change than being in the flesh, live on a stage and in the audience. That’s why speaking at TEDx was so damn important to me. [Tweet]

31. Say no to the things you don’t care about so you can say, “Hell, yes!” to the things you love. Cut back on what doesn’t matter. Thanks, Derek Sivers. [Tweet]

32. If you really want to help people, don’t give them the idea things are always rosy. Let them know how tough it can be. This is exactly why I am so transparent on LYL and why I wrote about How I Got Invited to Speak at TEDx. Thanks to Debra Russell. [Tweet]

“My palms are sweaty, my heart’s racing – so I must be ready for a breakthrough.”

– Debra Russell  [Tweet]

33. If today is frustrating, realize there’s more possibility tomorrow. A sand trap is only a few feet from a hole in one. Don’t be surprised. Know what you signed up for. Take it for what it is. Don’t make it any bigger. [Tweet]

34. Don’t make things such a big-ass deal.  [Tweet]

35. Not everything you do is going to hit. It never does. That’s how the world works. Keep building and creating anyway. [Tweet]

“Find the people who say you’re crazy not to.”

– Jenny Blake [Tweet]

36. Expectations change everything. Be positive, but know what’s realistic so you can deal with a brick wall when you slam into it. [Tweet]

37. Sometimes the most obvious things can make the biggest difference. Live Off Your Passion wasn’t selling as expected and I was overwhelmed on which of the 10+ channels to focus on. I eventually picked the bottleneck, the sales page, and having one point of focus created massive motivation. 80 hours later of work interacting with customers, the product and the product description page, the conversion went from .5% to 4.3%. [Tweet]

38. Notice your 80/20 opportunities. When they hit, work your face off to capitalize. This why I put in 30 hours in under three days to spread the word on my TEDx talk. [Tweet]

39. It’s not what you do, it’s how you experience each day as you do what you do. Don’t get too caught up in checking boxes. [Tweet]

40. When you plan too much, it’s tough to look forward to any of it. 10 amazing things turn into 10 chores you can’t wait finish so you can finally relax. Do less. [Tweet]

41. You don’t have to and can’t possibly cover every part of a topic. Build it anyway! How to Connect with Anyone would have never come to life without this. [Tweet]

42. Growth requires smart investment – in time, in money, in people. Being too frugal kills growth. Know your 80/20. [Tweet]

43. Getting the right people to make you better can be the difference between success and failure. Last year I was able to find an amazing team including two designers, an editor, a video guy and an all-around rock star. I’ll introduce them all to you soon. No one does anything alone! [Tweet]

“I am what I am because of who we all are.”

– Ubuntu [Tweet]

44. There’s a time to build your audience and a time to build things to serve your audience. Each always require attention but you won’t nail them both at the same time. Focus on one then the other. [Tweet]

45. Being in person changes everything. We all learned this first hand with our first ever Live Your Legend LIVE event at Samovar Tea Lounge. There will be many more to come. [Tweet]

46. Sometimes it’s best to just start building something before you know all it will contain. You must start making progress. Momentum is one of the most powerful forces on the planet. Thanks to Corbett Barr for that. [Tweet]

“People will do anything for those who encourage their dreams, justify their failures, allay their fears, confirm their suspicions and help them throw rocks at their enemies.”

– Ben Mack

47. I will never get it all done. And that’s fine. Just be okay with it. Focus on your most important work. [Tweet]

48. We have finite willpower — especially at the end of the day. When we’re doing a lot of things everyday, even if they are our strengths, we just don’t have the energy for all of it. Decisions drain our energy. Do your most important work first. [Tweet]

49. Trying to not miss anything will cause you to miss everything. The best way to do it all is to only do one thing at a time. Crush that and move on. [Tweet]

50. Nothing worthwhile takes less than five minutes (or even 30 minutes). Stop underestimating how long things take. Plan buffer time. If it will take an hour, plan for 90 minutes. This is a huge component of my Weekly Planning Process. Thanks to Tony Robbins for that one. [Tweet]

51. Pay people what they’re worth. Tip well. Surprise them with generosity. After the Connect with Anyone launch sold out in a matter of days (Which totally took me off guard), I went on to pay a bonus to all of my team of between 40-80%. Nothing would have happened without them. It was the best money I spent all year. [Tweet]

52. Systems and teams make successful businesses possible. Scale and sustainable growth can’t exist without them. Thanks to Danny Patterson. [Tweet]

53. What sets the achievers apart from the dreamers is your ability to get stuff done regardless of the distractions. Everyone gets thrown off. What matters is how you deal with it. [Tweet]

focus is the key to the world

54. Knowing a topic incredibly well creates massive calm and confidence. Constantly sharpen how you help people. [Tweet]

55. Do things that people want to share and spread. These are the things that they know you worked your ass off to make happen and that you did mainly for other people. Give them something they’re proud to share. Do good work and people will reward you. [Tweet]

56. The best way to get the attention and trust of successful people is to do the most passionate world-changing work you’re capable of. [Tweet]

“Become impossible to ignore.”


57. Operational leverage rules the world. Trading hours for dollars is a fine place to start, but take your time out of the equation as soon as possible. That is why I love the Internet! [Tweet]

58. The craziest, biggest most unreal s*/$ can happen in a matter of months and years if you just focus on building and adding value. Things don’t happen overnight, but if you put your head down and focus, they don’t have to take a lifetime either… [Tweet]

59. Do good work and provide real help. The rest will take care of itself.

[Tweet #59!]

“Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.”

– Theodore Roosevelt [Tweet]

Believe it or not, the above is just a taste of all I had on my list.

If you’re not growing, you’re dying.

If you’re not learning, you’re not living.

May the education never end!


For the comments: What was one of the most powerful lessons you learned in 2012? Teach us something!

P.S. Oh and we’re trying out a new comment system this week that we’re hoping will help bring our community closer together and allow for more connection. Please check it out and leave a comment and let us know what you think!

2013 Goal Setting Guide

Have you Downloaded the 2013 Goal Setting & Action Workbook?

We spent small fortune in time and money to totally redesign the 2013 Goal Setting and Action Workbook, and since last week it’s been downloaded nearly 20,000 times!

This is one of our totally free gifts to you. All I ask in return is that you promise to use it and share it with one person who needs it.

Download the 2013 Goal Setting & Action Workbook by clicking here

P. P. S. Spend some time setting your big goals this week and weekend because next week I’m sharing all of my 2013 plans with you all and I expect you to do the same!


Image credits: 1, 2, 3, 4