Guaranteed to fail


Want to know how to succeed? Figure out how to fail and do the opposite. That’s the premise of a process called Inversion Thinking. And while it sounds simplistic, I think there’s a lot to say for it. 

Especially if you have too many options and can’t decide what to do or the best way to do it. 

For example, let’s say you have a goal to increase your firm’s revenue by 50% in the next six months, but you’re not sure how. You brainstorm ideas, strategies, workflow improvements, and search for new marketing methods, but you still don’t have a plan. With inversion thinking, you might ask yourself, “What would I do if I wanted to guarantee I would FAIL to achieve my goal?”

Ridiculous? Yes. And that’s the point. By identifying guaranteed ways to fail, you identify things to avoid and also things that you should specifically focus on (i.e., the opposite.)

So, you make a list of ways to guarantee you would fail to hit your revenue goal: 

  • Ignore former clients and prospects; they know where to find me if they need me
  • Immediately start as many new marketing projects as possible
  • Check social media constantly
  • Rely on “brand” advertising to build name recognition
  • Do everything myself (don’t delegate or outsource anything)
  • Do nothing myself (hire expensive consultants and have them do everything)
  • Make sure everything is perfect or don’t do it at all
  • Wing it; I’m smart, I don’t need a plan or schedule

And so on. 

Go a little crazy. Then, do the opposite: 

  • Prioritize staying in touch with former clients and prospects because they already know you, can provide repeat business and referrals, and there is no cost to find them
  • Focus on only one or two projects at a time
  • Limit social media to 20 minutes per day
  • Set up a schedule for working on these projects, put this on my calendar, and set up reminders
  • Progress is better than perfection; get started, make it better over time

You may not always know what to do to succeed, but you can usually figure out how to fail. Then, do the opposite. Or at least don’t do anything you know is guaranteed to fail.