The Paradox of Failure

What is the key to success?

Failure.

Yes, failure.

The one thing that all successful people have in common is that they have failed… a lot! Like a whole lot.

Michael Jordan puts it this way:

I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.

Success only comes from one thing: trying. You will never succeed more times than you try. You will usually not succeed as many times as you try. Those times that you don’t succeed could be called failures.

It’s simple math. To succeed more, you must try more, and the byproduct of that is failing more.

This is one of the places where traditional education lets us down the most. In traditional education, you are taught a thing, given a test on it, and that is your grade: pass or fail. That’s it. Move on to the next thing.

Fail the test? Guess you’re a loser. On to the next thing. Try not to suck so much next time.

When you look at a college transcript, nothing on it tells you how hard the courses were that you took or how you stretched out of your comfort zone. All that it has is that GPA.

I graduated cum laude by taking easy courses. My transcript looks great. I was totally unprepared for real life because I had learned to avoid failure.

Since then, I have learned that failure does not matter. Failure is the background. It is like white on a canvas. Success is all that matters. Success is the paint on the canvas.

Try and try and try. Only the successes make the score board.

The clock keeps running whether you try or you hide. If you try and fail, you learn. If you don’t try, you just lose.


Michael Whitehouse is a networking coach and motivational speaker. If you’d like to have a call with Michael to talk about ways that you can embrace more success in your life, click here to schedule a complementary session.

Covid Part II — What you need to know to prepare your business

(Note added August 10th, 2021): In this article, I suggest that Lambda is vaccine resistant, and will cause a major spike. Since writing this article, further research has shown that Lambda does not seem to be vaccine resistant. However, this does not mean that the events I describe will not happen. It only means that they will not happen right now with that one particular variant. The general point remains valid.

A month ago, I looked at the data available to me and predicted that within a month or two, we would see masking come back and possible lockdowns. Now that these have come to pass, I want to be more intentional in sharing what I am seeing.

Covid is not only not over but what is coming in the next 18 months will be worse than the previous 18 months. The difference is that the warning signs are here and businesses have time to prepare, if they know what to prepare for.

I’m not going to talk about the politics or the underlying causes. The purpose of this article is to share with business owners and anyone else who needs to prepare a general idea of what we might expect in the next 18 months, and what you can do to prepare your business.

What’s Happening?

Delta is giving us a preview of what variants will do. It’s high infectivity and partial vaccine resistance are causing numbers to rise again, mask mandates to return, and uncertainty in people’s plans and activities.

Continue reading “Covid Part II — What you need to know to prepare your business”

Man Who Writes for Living Calls Others Indolent

We should always be suspicious when someone who writes, thinks, and speaks for a living opines on how lazy people are.

The Day, in their July 3rd edition, published a piece by professional writer and pundit Cal Thomas entitled “Getting Paid Not to Work Is Addictive.

In it, he laments that human nature leads people to be lay about, taking advantage of enhanced unemployment to indolently bum around at home. He paints in your mind a lazy laggard who drinks and plays video games as the rest of us hard working folk put money in their bank account.

Nice story. Too bad it is mostly fictitious, and largely classist. The reality is that working is expensive.

When my daughter was in daycare, it cost $270 per week. That’s for one child.

Minimum wage in Connecticut is $12 per hour, which means that a 40 hour week pays $480. That assumes that you can get 40 hours, which you probably can’t.

Take out $270 for childcare, and now you’ve got $210 left. That’s before taking taxes, the cost of getting to and from work, and all the other costs of working. Can you live on $150/week? Didn’t think so.

In his article, Thomas pontificates, “It makes one wonder what happened to…the ‘work ethic’ when work was seen as a noble.”

Perhaps what happened is that work became less noble when wages remained stagnant for 40 years while the cost of living rose. Maybe it’s that workers are treated like replaceable cogs, liabilities rather than assets, due to misguided “lean business” philophies.

Or it could be that the concept of “work ethic” has always been an idea propagated by those who profit from cheap and abundant labor to convince people to work long hours, exhaust themselves too much to think, then sooth their fatigue with consumerism.

I know quite a few millionaires. None of them work more than 40 hours a week. Most of them less than 20. They deploy their resources efficiently, leverage connections, and find the places where their time most efficiently converts into money.

Anyone can do what they do, but it takes time and energy to learn to do it, to make a plan to do it, and to actually do it. Someone who is struggling to figure out how to pay the rent on $150 per week has neither time nor energy.

However, what happens when that person is given the time and the space to decompress, think, and explore? They start to discover opportunities that they were never aware of before. They find that they can start a business. They find jobs that pay considerably more than what they were settling for. They may even find that, net of childcare and other expenses, it makes more sense to be a single income household.

What would this look like in the macroeconomic numbers? Lower labor force participation, higher wages, more business starts. Just like we are seeing right now.

Covid support didn’t make people lazy. It made them creative. Maybe if Mr. Thomas got away from his computer and did some real work once in a while, he’d see that.


Michael Whitehouse is a motivational speaker, mindset coach, connector, and he helps people make a living by avoiding miserable, soul crushing work. If you’re interested in how you could shift from survival work to thriving work, set up a complimentary coaching session.

How Many Actions Points Does that Take?

The idea of time management is being supplanted by the idea of energy management.

My board gaming friends may understand the concept of Actions or Action Points. In a game like Dominion, you get one Action per turn, but some cards will give you additional actions which let you do more things.

We may think that we have 8 hours in a day, what we really have is a combination of time and energy which results in being able to perform a certain number of actions per day. If we were machines, the number of actions we could perform would be a simple function of how many minutes it takes to perform the task divided into the number of minutes we have available.

Since we are human, however, energy ends up being much more of a factor. Most people get as little as 3-4 hours of work done during a typical 8 hour work day. Why? Energy management.

There are some tasks that give me energy, give me additional Actions in my turn. Running a coaching session gives me energy. I do 6 sessions back to back and the last one would be as good as the first, possibly better, because it energizes me.

Creating content is another such activity. I can write 3,000 words in a sitting. I cannot, however, write two blog posts back to back.

Why? Because creating a blog post, is more than just writing. I need to tag it. I need to share it to Facebook and LinkedIn. I need to do other administrative tasks to make sure people see it. That consumes Actions.

Different people gain Actions, gain energy, from different types of activity. Different people find different tasks easier or harder.

A coaching trainer I am working with shared that he does not like to do more than 3, and preferably not more than 2, sessions per day because it wears him out. I could do twice that and be ready for more.

Recently it was suggested that I should repurpose my content. Specifically that I should record video as I record the audio of my Morning Motivation podcast. This makes sense if creating content is hard and repurposing is easy. For many people this may well be the case, but not for me.

Morning Motivation is my fourth attempt at a podcast, and my most successful. It is so successful because it is so logistically simple for me to create. It takes approximately 11 minutes start to finish to record and post an episode. I will usually create all the episodes for a week in one or two sittings. I spend more time recording the audio than I do sharing the content, and that’s just the way I like it.

One of the great things about audio is that I can edit out a flub in seconds as I record without leaving an artifact. Not so in video.

While it may seem like simply recording video as I record the audio would be simple, it would likely double the time it takes to create an episode. When I increase the friction on a task, I increase the chance that the task will stop getting done.

A better use of 11 minutes would be to take my camera and record a second video on the same topic that is 2-5 minutes long and share that. It may seem inefficient to create two pieces of content when I could repurpose one, but it is actually easier, it takes less Actions, to do it separately.

The same is true with transcribing the podcast. There is software that will turn speech to text that I could run the episodes through, but what I would have is a mess of errors with no punctuation. I would have to go back through every word, figure out what I was trying to say originally, and clean it up. Add to that the fact that we don’t write the same way we speak, and it doesn’t make a lot of sense.

You know what I can do in the same amount of time it would take to clean up an automated transcription? I could write an article!

That’s what I did on the topic of getting 1% better every day. I recorded it as an episode, then I wrote an article, then I recorded a TikTok, then I talked more about it in a Sunday Update of Morning Motivation. These four pieces of content did not feel like work to me because they were creating content. They also are all native to the platforms where they live.

In the same amount of time it would have taken to repurpose the first episode into multiple pieces, I created four pieces of content.

The place where repurposing does make sense is when you have an assistant. I can create content as easily as I can repurpose it. An assistant cannot create content for me, but they can take what I have, reedit it, transcribe it, clean it up, reshare it, and all the rest.

At some point it will make sense to hire such an assistant, but this is not that point for me.

For yourself, it is important to recognize what give you Actions and what consumes Actions. What can you do all day without a break or rest, and what drains your energy. Rather than looking at how much time something takes, look at how much energy it takes and strategize along those lines.

Find the things that you can do most efficiently and do more of that. Find the things that drain you and either hire someone else to do it or do as little of it as possible.

Why Conference21

Conference21 has grown into something more unique, more special, more powerful than I ever hoped for. As an event, it has a mission, and that mission has created a community.

When I first came up with the concept, it was born of a simple motivation. I enjoy speaking and teaching, and it seemed that the best way to find a stage to speak from was to build one.

I have been involved in running events, mostly in the fandom space, since 1996, so the basic logistics came naturally.

Continue reading “Why Conference21”

How “Positive Thinking” Destroyed Rome

In 527 Petrus Sabbatius succeeded his uncle and adoptive father to the Eastern Roman Empire’s throne to become Emperor Justinian I, and would, through his long reign, completely destroy what was left of the Roman empire in Italy and Africa.

I have been listening to the first season of an amazing podcast called Tides of History by Patrick Wyman in which he discussed the fall of Rome and the rise of the modern world. These historic stories are surprisingly relevant to our modern challenges.

Justinian wanted to restore Rome to a former greatness that dubiously actually existed. He was committed to this goal with a single minded dedication.

At the time North Africa, Italy, and other parts of the former Western Roman Empire were ruled by various Germanic tribes under the “authority” of the Eastern Roman Empire. They continued to follow Roman customs, laws, and traditions. They used Roman imagery and titles, and Roman aristocrats were still prominent.

But Justinian felt that things were not as great as they had once been, and he would be the great emperor to restore it. It was a close advisor of his who would first write that Rome had “fallen” in 476. This would start a movement in thinking in Constantinople that the West had been “lost” and needed to be “restored.”

Justinian was focused. He was dedicated. He knew his Why. He was committed.

He deployed the armies of the Empire first to Africa then to Italy after various succession issues provided provocations for military action.

Ultimately, his forces prevailed, but in the process, the fighting, combined with famine and plague, killed nearly half of the population of Italy and completely destroyed what remained of Roman custom, tradition, trade, and technology in the region.

This was partly due to the war, but it was also because he kept on fighting even when the climate cooled and disease spread. He was too focused on the victory he sought to realize that the conditions had changed and the cost of the war was growing too high.

We often talk about “knowing your Why” and “being focused on your goal” and “commitment” as though that alone will make everything come out well.

In the coaching world, we are often speaking to people who do not have the power of an Emperor or even a billionaire. As such, the result of such didactic thinking is unlikely to collapse an entire way of life.

However, I believe that it is a valuable object lesson to look at Emperor Justinian I. He was all the things that we encourage a good entrepreneur to be. He was highly effective. He was organized and focused. He had a strong sense of purpose and was able to share it with others. He knew his goals, drove towards them, and achieved them as stated. He reconquered the West.

He also destroyed the West in the process.

I don’t think we spend enough time encouraging people to fully evaluate their goals. Focusing on your goals and working with the end in mind is all well and good, but if they are the wrong goals, or if they are incomplete goals, all the focus in the world will not bring true success.

This is why in my goal setting process, I added the first step of “dream.” I ask people to imagine their perfect life with no restrictions. Too often, people choose expected goals like “money”, “power”, or “fame”. Plenty of people achieve these goals only to find themselves more miserable than they were before they achieved them.

What are your goals? Do they truly align with your dreams?

The greatest tragedy is to sacrifice everything needed to achieve your goals only to discover they were the wrong goals.


Are you worried that your goals might destroy the legacy of Rome? Or perhaps you just want to make sure you’re on the right path to success? Schedule a free, no obligation half hour coaching call with Michael Whitehouse.

Networking in the Virtual World

Networking in the virtual world

Are networking events an important part of your business?

If so, the last few months have been quite a shock to the system. The business I started 2020 with was absolutely dependent on local, in person networking, which is why the business I’m running as we start 2021 is a very different business.

There are fundamentally two types of networking: networking through events and networking through referrals.

Continue reading “Networking in the Virtual World”

High Ticket Coaching Nearly Killed My Business

High Ticket Coaching Nearly Killed My Business

There is a certain area of coaching that teaches that your worth is determined by net worth. They tell you that if you don’t have a $10,000 offer, you ain’t nothing. If you’re not bringing in $20,000 a month, you’re a failure.

This mindset derailed my business off of a successful growth path into the doldrums.

Continue reading “High Ticket Coaching Nearly Killed My Business”

Time Management – Do the Things That Do More Things

Time Management
Unless you have a Time Turner, I’m afraid you have the same time limitations as the rest of us.

Unless you are a wizard who controls time, you have the same 24 hours in the day as everyone else. How do you make the most of that time? Time management is about more than blocking time. It’s about prioritizing time.

In a recent group coaching session that I was leading, we discussed how to make the most of limited time resources.

If you can only do a few of the things on your to do list, one way to prioritize is by impact. The highest impact action is that which causes other action to be completed.

For example, if you have a staff member who is waiting for instruction before they can get to work, then your highest priority should be to give them instruction and assignment so they can get to work. Otherwise, they stand idle while you work on something else. Once assigned, now there are two people working instead of just one.

Another high priority is creating resources that facilitate action. If you find that you are explaining the same thing to many people you meet, you could instead create a landing page or web site with that information. Rather than having to explain it next time, you can just share the link.

I created an email sequence that tells people what I do, who I am, and what I offer. When I meet someone on social media, I am able to get their email and share a lot of information with them rather than having to retype my life story for them. This frees us up to have a more productive conversation.

Yesterday, I wrote a motivational article and, because I had created a landing page for my daily motivational message I could just drop that link at the end of it rather than having to explain what it was all about.

All parts of the process are important, but you should prioritize getting the team moving over doing your own work. Prioritize the landing page that you’ll be using for months over the email that will go out once. You should prioritize the automated email sequence over the individal message.

If you fail to create these efficiencies you may find yourself too busy repeating the same explanation to everyone to find the time to write down the explanation one time that you can share with everyone, and that’s just silly.


This topic came up during a recent coaching session of the Skills + Accountability = Success System, where students meet weekly to focus their strategies and burnish their skills to achieve maximum success. Visit the SASS web site to see if any groups are currently open for you to join.