Turning Failure and Mistakes into Success

Katie Corbett holds the book, "The Power of Who"

By Katie Corbett

You might have heard about the importance of failure and learning from your mistakes. Often, it is our greatest failures that teach us how to be successful. In the moment, especially after a grueling defeat, it can be hard to keep that in mind.

“The Power of Who,” by Bob Beaudine, asserts that being able to move forward in the face of failure is an important characteristic of a successful person. Some questions I try to ask myself after failure are:

• In what ways did I cause or allow this to happen
• What happened that was out of my control?
• What have I learned about myself as a result of this experience?
• What have I learned about others, if applicable, after this experience?
• Is there something I can do differently next time?
• What are positives I can take from this situation?
• How has this situation made me stronger?
• What will I need in order to move forward?
• Who can I ask for help and advice?
• What could I learn more about so I can avoid this happening again?

It is my hope that by asking yourself these questions after a setback, it will be easier and quicker to move forward. Failure and mistakes are, unfortunately, a part of life. The sooner we can learn to work through them, the better it will be for our physical, mental, social and spiritual well-being.

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Having a Mindset of Moving Mountains

Katie Corbett holds the book, "The Power of Who"

By Katie Corbett

It is a fact of life that when you are working on a project, road-blocks are bound to come up. Instead of seeing these obstacles as a sign to give up, it is important to view them as another challenge that will, in the end, make you a better person and contribute to future success.

In the book, “The Power of Who,” Bob Beaudine lists the ability to overcome obstacles as a hallmark of a successful person. Some questions I ask myself when I encounter a challenge are:

• What can I personally do to mitigate this obstacle?
• Who can I reach out to who might be able to help?
• If I don’t currently know anyone who could help, what qualities and skills might this person need to have and where could I find such a person?
• Is there another way of looking at this challenge?
• What are the positives that could come as a result of this road-block?
• What am I learning about myself, others, or my project?
• Are there any “off the beaten path” solutions I have yet to consider?
• What will I lose by needing to work through this issue?
• What will I gain?
• How have I overcome challenges in the past?

It is my hope that, if you are facing an obstacle right now, this list of questions can get you out of analysis paralysis and onto a solution. Keep staying the course and striving for your dreams. You might take an unexpected detour or two along the way. That is okay. Move forward one day, one challenge, one step at a time. Eventually you will see the fruits of your labor.

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For Inspiration, Read About Those Worse off Than you who got to Where You Want to Be

Katie Corbett holds the book, "One Minute Millionaire"

By Katie Corbett

When I’m looking to achieve a goal, one of the first questions I ask myself is: Has anyone else done this? After getting the training wheels taken off my bike when I was in elementary school, I knew I would be okay because my younger sister had gotten hers taken off a few moments earlier. I can still hear her voice exclaiming, “You can do it, Katie! It’s easy!” She showed me how to keep my balance and repeatedly shouted words of encouragement as I rode my bike down the street. My little sister has done a lot of things first; things I sometimes didn’t even want to do until I witnessed her doing them.

When I made the decision to work towards becoming a millionaire, I knew I would benefit from finding evidence it was possible through the story of someone starting off with fewer advantages than I had, who got their anyway. So I picked up “The One-Minute Millionaire,” by Mark Victor Hansen and Robert G. Allen, and set about reading the fictional story of a woman named Michelle. Like me, Michelle was broke and trying to figure out how to make ends meet. Unlike me, however, Michelle was a widow, and her two children had been taken from her by her former in-laws. She needed the money to prove to her in-laws, and to the court system, that she was capable of financially providing for her children. I have not gone through the devastating loss of a spouse, and I wasn’t racing against the clock to get my children out of someone else’s custody. In my mind, I thought: “Wow! If this lady could become a millionaire, in spite of those odds, I can, too.” (And yes, I realize Michelle’s story is fictional, but it was easy enough for me to suspect that real people who are now millionaires started in Michelle’s position.)

What goals do you want to achieve in your life? Is there someone who has achieved that goal who started off worse than you, is less intelligent than you, or did not have the chances and opportunities you have? Going back to my sister, while we were growing up, she was shorter than me. In my kid brain, I figured that if shorty could do it, why couldn’t I? I know that my sister has gifts, talents and opportunities different than me. I know that I’m not better than her. I know that in some ways, she’s smarter than me. But I was born first, and when you’re the oldest, there can be this idea that you’re more capable than your younger siblings, or are more responsible or something. I have no idea where this silly superiority complex comes from, but hey, as long as I don’t lord it over my sibs and use it to help me achieve my goals, that should be okay. So, in what ways are you more attractive, more intelligent, or taller – hey, whatever works – than those who have achieved what you want to achieve? Do you have access to information about how they accomplished this goal? Do they encourage and cheer you on, as my sister did for me? If so, what are you waiting for?

If you don’t know anyone in your personal circle who has achieved your goal, do what I did and find a story about such a person. Many people are more than happy to share how they got to where they are. Believe in yourself. You can do it!

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To get Things Done, Form “Team You”

Katie Corbett holds the book, "One Minute Millionaire"

By Katie Corbett

Let’s go back to right after I learned all about how to become a millionaire. I bet you’re wondering what the first step was that I took. I had just learned what was possible, and knew I wanted to get there. In the meantime, I had bills, student loans, and credit card debt. The best thing to do seemed to be to get some money coming in. I focused on that with everything I had.

In “The One-Minute Millionaire,” by Mark Victor Hansen and Robert G. Allen, it is pointed out that getting rich takes a team. I started viewing my friends, family members, and acquaintances as members of Team Katie. I never dive into anything, be it job, side project, or hobby that will take an extended amount of commitment, without at least one other person to work with. As I continued my job search, I reached out to friends, former professors, and former internship bosses and let them know I was looking for a job. Once I changed my mindset to viewing these people as team members, I had less anxiety about asking them for help, since everyone on the team wants to see the team succeed.

I’ve gotten several job leads, interviews, and even the jobs themselves, because I knew someone at the company, had help making my résumé look stellar, or wasn’t afraid to ask for an introduction.

What individuals would be on your team? In what ways can they support you? How will you go about asking for their help? Write all ideas and names down on a sheet of paper or in a blank document on your computer. You can evaluate everything later. Pick the first thing you want to start with and do it.

Doing one thing each day that will get you closer to your goals will guarantee you make progress each day without burning out. Take it one step at a time, and remember that your team is there to help you and cheer you on. And if someone stops cheering for you, or actively tries to tear you down, they no longer get to be a part of your team. Surround yourself with those who believe in you, and you’ll accomplish more than you ever thought possible.

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How Reading Stories can Change Your Outlook

Katie Corbett holds the book, "One Minute Millionaire"

By Katie Corbett

It’s important to vary the kinds of books you read. Reading different types of material will help you stay engaged, keep learning and retain new ideas. I discovered this at one of the lowest points of my life.

When I picked up, “The One-Minute Millionaire,” by Mark Victor Hansen and Robert G. Allen, I was broke. None of my job interviews were panning out and I didn’t know what to do next. The book was interesting to me for two reasons: (1) who doesn’t want to be a millionaire, and (2) it was laid out in a unique way. The right-side pages are written telling a fictional story of a person who becomes a millionaire. The left-hand pages are organized into standalone lessons for implementing the system and becoming a millionaire yourself. Words, phrases and page numbers from the left side of the book are referenced throughout the story on the right. Since I was in such a dark place in my life, I read the story first.

I was relieved when the fictional story held my attention for an extended period of time. I was so stressed by my current circumstances that it felt good to escape into someone else’s life for a while. While reading the book didn’t immediately improve my finances, it fought off the fear and anxiety I felt so I could tackle the problem more creatively and positively.

At a time when it would have been easy to get analysis paralysis, reading a story helped me keep learning. I learned that my mindset and staying positive were very important, and that I could change my mindset no matter how much—or how little–money I had in the bank. Reading about a fictional character struggling through her own negative self-talk made me feel less alone and I learned, through her relatable, albeit fictional example, how to change thought patterns in the midst of everyday life and personal struggles.

Reading in story form allowed me to retain new ideas better than if I were simply reading a step-by-step guide. It has been three years since I first picked up “The One-Minute Millionaire.” I have not read it every day or even referred back to it many times at all. Yet I am constantly putting its ideas and principles into practice each day in my life, career and business. I know I would not have retained the information nearly as well if it hadn’t been delivered in such an entertaining and engaging fashion.

I’m not a millionaire yet. I’m on my way to getting there. I know I wouldn’t be on this journey without having first read “The One-Minute Millionaire.” I encourage you to pick up a copy, suspend any doubt, fear or skepticism as you read, and prepare to be amazed at your own ingenuity and resourcefulness.

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Be Disciplined: Food and Impulse Control

Katie Corbett holds the book "Perfectly Yourself"

By Katie Corbett

Last night, I ate a dessert that had about 1500 calories. For the past 17 months, I’ve been trying to lose weight. You might think that the afore-mentioned dessert would not make me feel victorious, but it does. Here’s why.

In “Perfectly Yourself,” author Matthew Kelly explains that discipline, especially when it comes to appetite and impulse control, results in greater happiness. I’m inclined to agree, and what has worked for me during my weight-loss journey illustrates that point.

Lesson 1: Do something dramatic to kick-start your progress. I started with The Slow-Carb Diet, as presented in “The 4-Hour Body,” by Tim Ferriss. It involves consuming at least 20 grams of protein within 30 minutes of waking up, avoiding all sugars and white foods, drinking lots of water, and eating no fruit, for six days per week. The seventh day is Cheat Day, and you can eat anything you want on that day. I did this for three weeks. Afterward, I knew I could do anything.

Lesson 2: Track what matters. Each week since I started slow-carb, I’ve been measuring inches. This is more effective than weight because I can see where fat is on my body. (This is also in “The 4-Hour Body” if you want to look it up and learn how.)

Lesson 3: When you’re running out of steam, get help. After I went as far as I could with the Slow-Carb approach, I didn’t want to just gain all the weight right back. I found a product that assisted in appetite suppression and fat-burning, and used that for another six weeks or so. This kept my weight-loss going, and helped me get used to avoiding sweets without keeping a death-grip on my self-control. After I didn’t have sweets for a while, I just got used to not eating them, and they have become less appealing to me.

Lesson 4: Find a workout you love. Throughout this process, I have experimented with all kinds of exercises, and have tried working out both at the gym and at home. I’ve tried swimming, high-intensity interval training, sit-ups, and in the end, running. Running won out as my favorite way to exercise, since its practical, I feel like I’m accomplishing something and moving forward with each workout, and I have a Couch to 5-K plan I use to keep me on track. All I have to do is push play on the PodRunner podcast and do whatever I’m told.

Lesson 5: Keep incorporating little changes into your life to add up to big results. Each day, I leave at least 12 hours between dinner the night before and breakfast the next morning. I drink my tea without added sugar or honey. I try to eat sweets only one day per week. I take measurements on Saturdays to track my progress. Little things are easier to do, and I know I will keep moving forward.

So, as you can probably guess, that dessert I mentioned is a sign of victory because I fully intended to eat it. I knew what I was doing and didn’t mindlessly scarf it down. And I’ll tell you, it was one of the best pieces of chocolate cake I have had in a while.

In what area can you be more disciplined? What are some steps, small or big, that you can take to get there? How will you track progress? Where will you go for help? I’d love to know, so leave a comment. Remember that anything you do to get yourself closer to this self-mastery will help in all areas of your life. And if you decide, as I did many times, that something just isn’t for you, keep trying new things until you find what works.

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Simplify Life: Say “No”

By Katie Corbett

Like many, I enjoy being helpful. There comes a point, however, when my helpfulness to others isn’t helpful to me. I get to a point where I feel like I’m doing things because I feel obligated. I have learned that it is better to simplify my life in order to make the most impact.

As Matthew Kelly suggests in “Perfectly Yourself,” saying no to commitments can be one way to get simplicity in your life. I have found learning to say no to be liberating, because it helps me select what is most important to me and do that. Also, when I say no to one thing, it leaves open space for something better to come along.

Some questions I ask to evaluate opportunities are:

• How does this opportunity align with my personal or professional goals?
• What about this opportunity intrigues me?
• Is there anything about this opportunity that I’m unsure or not excited about? Why?
• What amount of time, energy and/or other resources am I willing to commit?
• Do I like the people I will be working with on this project?
• What does successful project completion look like to me?
• In what ways will I evaluate this project along the way to ensure it is in line with my expectations?
• What will I need to give up or change in order to make room for this project in my life?
• What are my deal-breakers?
• Why do I think I’m the best person to carry out this project?

Asking these questions helps me narrow down what I am and am not willing to commit to taking on. Keeping my own priorities in mind helps me evaluate opportunities and say yes to those I truly want, and no to those that don’t serve me well. I’ve learned that if you think a project is going to be a total headache, it probably will, so best get out while you still can.

Leaving in the midst of a project can be one of the hardest things you have to do. I have needed to back out on a few occasions, either because my circumstances changed or because the project turned out to be dramatically different than I expected. I have found that if backing out is done with grace, kindness and good will to those still involved, everyone will understand and feelings will be less likely to get hurt. And after the hard work of being honest with yourself and others about what you can handle, you will find room in your life for what you truly enjoy.

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Celebrate your Progress

Katie Corbett holds the book "Perfectly Yourself"

By Katie Corbett

I love setting goals. While this means I keep moving forward, I often lose track of what I have accomplished thus far. It turns out, acknowledging and celebrating progress is the key to staying motivated.

In Matthew Kelly’s book, “Perfectly Yourself,” suggestions are given for how to recognize your achievements. Some of the methods I have found helpful are:

Keeping a List of Goals: As I cross each item off my list, and review my list at the end of each day or week, I feel a sense of pride and accomplishment as I track how far I’ve come.
Involve Others: When I set a goal, such as getting a prototype made of the garment project I’m working on, I told a few trusted friends about the project and gave them a call when the prototype was finished. It was fun hearing how excited they were as, together, we celebrated completion of this step in my project.
Rewarding Myself: When I was in high school, I didn’t always like doing my homework. I did, however, like playing the guitar. On days when I was particularly unmotivated to do my homework, I promised myself that I wouldn’t play the guitar until my homework was done. This not only gave me incentive to finish, but also gave me a way to celebrate at the end.
Taking Time to Reflect on Past Achievements: I was recently at a career workshop where we were asked to list the five accomplishments of which we were the most proud. Doing this reminded me that I had created a CD demo of songs I wrote when I was seventeen, and wrote a rough draft of a novel while in college. Remembering these activities gave me a sense of celebration as I looked back at what I had achieved.
Making Celebration a Part of the Plan: When I start a particularly daunting project, I decide in advance how I’m going to celebrate once I’m finished. My Chief Financial Officer and I recently finished the incorporation paperwork for our garment company. To celebrate, we got together and had mimosas. It was fun to acknowledge this achievement, and now we are sufficiently ready to move on to next steps.

Celebrating success is important, and doing so takes forethought and effort. What are some accomplishments you would like to celebrate? How can you put celebration into your plan of action? What can you do periodically to reflect on past achievements?

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