FOUR: Falling Up
Principle #4: Falling Up
Falling Up is the concept that failure is inevitable, but leads often to greater opportunities. This is an idea which has been explored in other top business books such as "Failing Forward," and the examples from the business world of failure leading to new heights of success are many, from Thomas Edison to Michael Jordan. (p.108)
Achor describes what he calls ‘The Third Path,' which is a path out of failure which can make you more strong and capable than before your failure. This is the path you need to be looking for, while avoiding the pitfall of helplessness. (p.108)
Helplessness is a destructive pattern of inaction which results from our simply giving up in the face of adversity. We respond to being overwhelmed in a negative situation by shutting down, which leads to further negative consequences. (p.116)
"Finding the path up" is what separates the successful from those who give up. It requires that you look for the opportunity in any setback, rather than settling in to despair. (p.118)
When faced with a negative situation, our brains create what is called a "counterfact," an alternate scenario created to help us evaluate and make sense of what happened. The example given is a scenario where a person is in a bank with 50 other customers during a robbery, and the person gets shot in the arm by a robber. One counterfact makes the person out to be unfortunate… wrong place, wrong time, only person shot of 50 customers. Another counterfact makes the person out to be fortunate… only shot in the arm, didn't get killed, nobody else was hurt. You decide which counterfact to use, and how to interpret the situation. (p.122)
A key to success that researchers have discovered in top performers is an "optimistic explanatory style." This is a positive way of interpreting adversity, and it has been shown to make large differences in success or failure. You can control your explanatory style by choosing how to explain past events. Your belief will affect your action, and will spur your performance rather than dropping you into helplessness. (p.123)
Controlling your explanatory style is possible by using the acronym ABCD: (p.125)
Adversity – this is the negative event, and can't be changed.
Belief – this is our reaction to the event. Seeing the negative only leads to a pessimistic explanatory style. Seeing opportunity leads to a positive explanatory style.
Consequence – this can be positive or negative, and can be a result of your belief.
Disputation – when a negative consequence arises, challenge (dispute) it. Realize it's only a belief and try to look at it as if you were an outsider. Is their evidence for this belief? Would you let a friend get away with this reasoning?
If it really just is bad… then decatastrophize it. Realize that things are rarely as bad as they seem in the moment.