View this email in your browser
Lesson 9: Wisdom from failure.... turning mistakes into success

We have discussed previously that lions are the only cats that hunt in a cooperative way. Not only does cooperative hunting bring a greater probability of success, but the size of the kills are also more significant.  An extensive study of 1,300 hunts observed in the Serengeti showed that 40% involved only one lion, 20% involved two, and the remainder involved a group of three or more lions. Lions stalk their prey, although ambush behaviour is often observed.  Most successful hunts are on dark nights in dense cover against a single prey animal. 
With relatively small hearts and lungs lions are not fast runners, reaching a maximum speed of 60km/h, nor do they have the stamina to keep this pace for more than a 200-250meters.  As such, lions rely on stalking their prey and seldom charge until they are within 30-40meters, unless the prey is facing the other way and cannot see the charge.
Hunts of impala and medium-sized prey are significantly more likely to be successful when the lions do not stalk their prey but rather chase them immediately upon detection.  The opposite is true for small-sized prey species.  However, lions are more likely to stalk impala and medium-sized species, whereas they are less likely to stalk small-sized prey. 
But let us look at the facts when it comes to the hunting success rates of lions. When African lions hunt alone they are successful in approximately 15-20% of the hunts. However, when they hunt as a group their success rate goes up to 35-40%.
These statistics are quite compelling! A 60% failure rate confirms that lions can be quite inept at hunting. They have no way to communicate complicated information such a wind direction or behaviour of their prey. Sometimes one lion flushes prey past another for a perfect catch. More often, what happens is than one lion blows it and scares the game too early, or flushes it in the opposite direction. A further reasons for lions’ relatively low hunting success is that a lions’ charge is generally launched directly at its quarry and it rarely alters the path of attack. Generally speaking, if a lion misses its target on the first run it usually abandons the chase.
After watching hunt after hunt fail, you soon realise that lions are not always coordinated or highly successful. Indeed their only saving grace is that the prey they hunt can't communicate very well either.
It is suggested that lions often, but not exclusively, turn their mistakes into success by following the same hunting patterns from previous successes. They eventually specialise in specific prey, they divide the individuals in the pride into preferred and specific roles, and utilise vegetation within their territory to their advantage…ultimately significantly increasing their success rate.
Lions don’t have a fear for failure. In their world it is not negotiable. They need to bounce back, show resilience and need to keep on trying. They learn from their mistakes and turn it into success. I have never seen a vegetarian lion!

Photo credit:  Neal Cooper (CNP Safaris)

In studying lions I have learned that failure can be very useful, but only if you learn from it. Failure is supposed to be a great teacher. But if that's true, why are so many of us unable to acquire the knowledge this "great teacher" has to impart? Why do we keep failing? The problem is failure might be a great teacher, but it is also a cryptic one. Figuring out its lessons is no easy task, especially when we're still nursing a bruised ego and drowning in our own lack of confidence and demoralization, not to mention the occasional embarrassment and resentment.

According to John C Maxwell, the major difference between achieving people and average people is their perception of and response to failure. He takes a closer look at failure-and reveals that the secret of moving beyond failure is to use it as a lesson and a stepping-stone.

Some of the most influential people that I can think of and also in my personal life have cemented their legacy through their “failures”. We all know that some of the most inspirational stories ever written (or lived) center on personal triumph over weakness, loss and failure.  Most leaders will tell you that their key lessons came from their toughest challenges and moments of failure, not from the moments of joy or triumph.

How then, can each of us redeem failure for good, and how do we learn from it?
To be able to learn from our failures, we need a way to decode the "teachable moments" hidden within them. We need a method for deducing what exactly those lessons are and how they can improve our chances of future success.
The following 4 guidelines will help you analyze your failures and identify specific issues you need to correct when pursuing goals or tasks going forward.
When you fail to plan, you plan to fail: How much time did you spend planning the best way to achieve your goal or task before you started? How much thought did you give to anticipating hurdles or problems that might arise and to figuring out how you would handle them if they did? The vast majority of us spend little, if any time on this kind of planning, despite the likelihood of us running into obstacles and unexpected circumstances. In the future, make sure to plan your general strategy, consider potential setbacks, and figure out how to overcome them, before you rush in.

Reevaluate your level of execution: Was your effort consistent, or did you experience lags in your work ethic, motivation, or your general mindset? Go back and assess when and why any drops in effort occurred. Identifying when you got demoralized or demotivated, and which external circumstances derailed your efforts. This will allow you to anticipate such events and plan how you to address them in the future.

Learn through someone else's eyes:
A common problem when we analyze our own failures in order to learn from them is that, since we are emotionally invested in the matter, we will not be able to look at them objectively. So we will make false interpretations and learn very little.
Have a discussion with a trustee/ mentor to provide that external perspective. It could also be useful to imagine you’re are mentor/coach who is cold and calculated who comes to take a look at your issue and share insights and lessons from mistakes.
Look at them with the eyes of this person, who sees the failure that took place as someone else’s. You’ll find that you’ll be a lot more objective and you’ll be able to realize things that you wouldn’t have otherwise. You’ll develop your ability to study your mistakes in a rational and detached manner, which is crucial in gaining precious insights.
Focus on what you can control:
Failure can make us feel passive and helpless and lead us to believe that we'll never succeed no matter what we do or try. However compelling such feelings are, they are no more than perceptual distortions -- tricks our minds play on us after experiencing failure.
We look at all the negatives around a situation and stare at the things out of our control. We have never been able to control the weather, world markets or commodity prices. The truth is, we always have more control over things than we realize. A mindset of
controlling the controllables helps you to take ownership and not stumble because of a victim mindset.
As long as you know where and how to look, failure can indeed be a great teacher. These four guidelines are always the first place to start your search, as within them you are bound to find valuable lessons that will help you succeed in the future.
When you have the ability to effectively learn from failure, it rewires your whole way of thinking about failure. It indeed does become a form of feedback in your mind, and you no longer perceive it as failure per se; only as an intermediate step towards success.
Failure is never the end. It is instead, a necessary part of our journey. May we keep perspective and find redemption through it.

Copyright © 2016 People's Dynamic Development, All rights reserved.
Tel: 012 993 0571  I  Email:
Tel: 082 561 3965  I  Email: