Never Fail Again: 3 Proven Steps to Guarantee Your Success

Success isn't random.

Creating a successful project is no different.

A business (whether an individual writing novels, a corporation selling insurance, or a nonprofit doing charitable work) is nothing more than a series of projects.

A successful business, therefore, is nothing more than a series of successful projects.

Look at any successful company – Coke, Nike, Apple, Kickstarter, Amazon, Chic-fil-A, Lululemon, Rogue Brewery – do you think their success is simply luck?

Or is it more likely that these companies have a system for instigating successful projects?

Creating a successful project is not about luck or coincidence (although either may help or hurt your project).

On the contrary, there are historically proven steps you can take in order to be successful.

*note: Every single one of the companies I listed above follows some form of this model for upper and lower level management when taking on any new project or product launch.  

The following are 3 proven steps to guarantee your success in any project you're about to instigate:

Step 1) Set and maintain your goal

What’s the last goal you set?  Did you reach it?  If not, where is that goal right now?  Above your computer?  In your wallet?  Taped to the visor in your car?

A goal is only as good as your focus.

There are great tips out there for creating compelling, powerful goals (the SMART method is excellent: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound), but none of it matters if you don’t review your goal daily

And then take action daily to achieve the goal.

Goals give purpose and direction to our actions, but we need to review and maintain the goal daily to make sure we don’t get sidetracked.

Tip: Set a goal, write it down, and review it every day.  It seems so painfully obvious it almost hurts to write – but how often do we put this common sense to practice?

Step 2) Commit and follow through

Another one that seems obvious, but how often do we actually commit AND follow through with our projects?

There are ways to measure the success and failure rate of start-ups   There are ways to determine the revenue generated from a specific advertising campaign.  There are ways to identify the conversion rate of your product's splash page.

There is no way to measure all the projects that failed before they started.

There’s no way to determine the success or failure of a project if we never make it through the brainstorming and thrashing stage.

If our great idea stays an idea, it fails.

If we set a goal but never follow through, we fail.

Tip: Once you've identified your goal, commit your time, energy and focus toward realizing it.  Don’t stop until it’s finished.  Follow through.

Step 3) Ship, measure, refine, and ship again

This is what separates successful companies from failed companies.

The pattern of all great companies (and all great instigators) is to create, ship, measure, refine, and ship again.

The beauty of this method: it plans for future failure.

When Pepsi released Crystal Pepsi in 1993, they pushed the marketing and advertising campaign hard.  And, for a short (very short) period of time, it was successful.

Until it wasn’t.

Pepsi didn’t push the failing product; they pulled it from the market.  They tweaked the formula and released a citrus variation called Crystal from Pepsi, which you probably never heard of, because that failed too.  They pulled it from the market.

Pepsi didn’t try to release a new version; the clear-Pepsi thing simply wasn’t working.  So Pepsi took the measured results and used them for future product and marketing campaigns (Sierra Mist).

Pepsi can get away with more large scale product failures than we can, but we can still mimic the fundamental pattern of how they create and introduce new products to market (a system that has more wins than losses).

Eventually, one of these products will be successful.  That’s the nature of measuring, refining, and shipping; you will eventually create something successful (i.e. something people want and will pay money for).

It’s not guess work; the creation of a successful product is very much a scientific process of measuring results and modifying inputs.

Tip: As long as we learn from our mistakes and use that information to shape future projects and products, we will inevitably create a successful offering.  Always measure, always refine, always ship.


The success of a project has nothing to do with luck.

Serendipity and providence can help us, sure, but if we rely on either to propel us toward success, we’re destined to fail.

Serendipity and providence only help those who don’t seek them.

And while we don’t have control over our lucky breaks, we do have control over something more powerful: our actions.

  1. Set and maintain your goal
  2. Commit and follow through
  3. Ship, measure, refine, and ship again

"Life is pretty simple: you do some stuff.  Most fails.  Some works.  You do more of what works." - Leonardo da Vinci

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2 comments on “Never Fail Again: 3 Proven Steps to Guarantee Your Success”

  1. Well said. Learning accelerates enormously after 'shipping' - whether you ship an idea, a physical product, a service, a website... the game changes when you start interacting with real prospects and customers. This is one of the reasons designers put such an emphasis on early prototyping and user research - to try to get access to some of this learning before huge investments in engineering, production, marketing, etc.

    1. I totally agree with you. Great example of designers using this testing/shipping method. Now, with the proliferation of new technologies (internet/computers etc), it's even easier (and more necessary) to test BEFORE we ship (if we can, depending on the industry).

      Thanks for commenting 🙂


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