Ready, Fire, Aim: Another Reason Why You Shouldn’t Be Afraid To Fail

Posted by Fitz Villafuerte under Mindsetting, Productivity on February 8, 2013

In school, we were taught that making a mistake is bad. If you fail an exam, there’s no second try.

Your teacher might give you a chance to make up for it. He or she can give you some project for extra credits, or allow you to retake the exam – which would of course, be different from the first one you took.

Because taking the exact same exam again is definitely out of the question – there’s no second chances to that!

And that’s only if your teacher’s feeling generous, because most of the time, you’ll just have to do better in the next one, and hope you can get a final grade high enough to pass the subject in the end.

Now imagine… what if things were different such that if you failed an exam – you are allowed to retake the exact same exam over and over again until you get a perfect score. Wouldn’t that be great?!

exam Ready, Fire, Aim: Another Reason Why You Shouldnt Be Afraid To Fail

In life, we often live like we’re still in school.

Our goals are like exams we need to pass, so we do our best not to make too many mistakes and fail, because we believe there’s no second chances to taking the exact same exam.

But life doesn’t work that way… and I’m a firm believer that when we fail, we always have the chance to take that “exact same exam” again and again until we get that perfect score.

Ready, Fire, Aim

No, I didn’t get the title wrong… “fire” really comes before “aim”.

When working on a goal – from simple tasks that we need to do, up to big goals and dreams that we want to achieve – doing the traditional “ready, aim, fire” strategy works.

But reversing the last two steps can also work as well, as proven by this true story:

Last November, a friend decided he’ll organize a Christmas high school reunion, so he sends out an email to discuss and plan the event.

His first email contained several dates, potential venues and a range of each one’s possible contribution for the party. Then, he surveyed his classmates which date and venue they preferred and how much cash they are willing to shell out.

After almost two weeks, and hundreds of email correspondences later, they were finally able to set everything.

The reunion was a success. In fact, everybody enjoyed the night so much that they wanted to meet up again this summer for an out of town trip.

Planning started as early as January and after a month, the details are still nowhere near to getting finalized.

Then my friend shifted from a “ready, aim, fire” strategy – to a “ready, fire, aim” approach.

ready fire aim Ready, Fire, Aim: Another Reason Why You Shouldnt Be Afraid To Fail

He emailed everyone with an exact date, a destination will full itinerary and an exact budget for the out of town trip. Towards the end, he only had one question, “Can you come or not?”

Out of his 20 classmates, about half said “Yes”. Those who said “No” offered other dates when they’d be available, while those who said “Maybe” were concerned with the trip’s budget.

His next email contained a different date, a new destination will full itinerary and a lower budget. Towards the end, he asked the same exact question, “Can you come or not?”

Around the same number said “Yes”, but the budget was no longer a concern to those who said they cannot come.

He repeated the same process several times until there were no more “No’s”, and only “Yesses” and “Maybe’s”. He made an executive decision and emailed the final details.

Exactly 15 said “Yes”, while the other 5 said that they’ll try to be available. It was a win for the “ready, fire, aim” approach.

Stop Analysis Paralysis

Sometimes, we tend to analyze things too much that we end up doing nothing. We try so hard to come up with a perfect plan that we end up wasting too much time preparing, and miss out on learning faster from experience.

The “ready, fire, aim” approach is a great tool to stop analysis paralysis because it tells us that it’s okay to miss our target. – because you can always adjust your aim, and try again and again, until you finally hit the bullseye.

Remember that mistakes are part of learning, and failures are just little steps of the whole journey to success.

This post is inspired by the teachings of In Search of Excellence: Lessons from America’s Best-Run Companies by Tom Peters and Robert H. Waterman, Jr. Ready, Fire, Aim: Another Reason Why You Shouldnt Be Afraid To Fail

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Photo credits: albertogp123 and wili

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6 Responses to “Ready, Fire, Aim: Another Reason Why You Shouldn’t Be Afraid To Fail”


  1. roland says:

    Hi Fitz,

    Good day

    I’m now in the middle of final decision making. I’ve read your article towards your jpurney on escaping the rat race. i want to do the same thing.However,it is really very hard for me just to leave my work. I am a family man and i have a secured job. Failure means deveastation to us financially. Kids are studying, PAG-IBIG payment,etc…are all just my concern.

    My business is promising but doubt haunts me.Pls. enlighten me and give me some checklist/idea when is the right time to move out from my job.

    Thanks a lot in advance
    roland

  2. Lonora says:

    Hi Fitz,

    This article is very timely for me.
    I have a project that’s been unproductive for the past two months. My teammates were just too afraid to commit a reasonable target.

    I’ll try this Ready-Fire-Aim strategy on them.

    -Lonora

  3. Fitz says:

    Hi Roland,

    Stay in your current job, but work hard to launch your business and make it grow.

    For me, the best time to resign from work is when your income from other sources already exceeds your salary.

    Easier said than done, but it is possible, and I’ve seen countless people achieve exactly that.

    Financial freedom means living a few years of your life like most people won’t, so you can live the rest of your life like most people can’t.

  4. angelmicx says:

    This is one big eye openner for me.. It can be applied in any part of life because I have this tendency to overthink things and just think of the negative stuffs that will happen instead of just doing it, even if failing will just deter my plans for a bit..

    Thank you for this God-given message (at least that is what I feel about it), since I can also use the idea in Gospel-sharing.. ^_^

  5. August says:

    Ouch, this hit me bigtime.I am an Analyst and applies my job into life outside work. Gathering so many options I could take to escape out of corporate world. I tend to consolidate lots of opportunities then end up with choosing none coz in my mind, the last option is the best then I will wait for a better one to come.

    I came up with some action plans and started thinking as a “grown up”. I cleared my debts, started saving and now, I am not sure on what other opportunity I must focus on so I can go out of employment 2 years from now.

    Thanks Fitz for reminding me that too much analysis does not work all the time. Hope to see more advices from a guru like you.

  6. Nikki says:

    Hello Fitz!

    Now I’ve got something for my husband to read hehe… It’s already taking him quite a long time planning for his food cart business because he wants everything to be perfect before it actually starts. Well, I know, it’s not only for him … but more for me. Thanks so much.

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