Why Things Fail

IT Business

Warning: Adult situations and topics ahead.

Have you ever heard these?

   Seize the day.

   Live each day as if it were your last.

   Live life to the fullest.

People like to say these things. But when it comes to doing, they tend to bring up other quotes like: “Oh, I can’t do that, need at least 8 hours of sleep or I can’t function.” or “I just can’t get that done, I have other plans.

Every now and then I try to picture their conflict of desires and efforts and it looks a little like this:

“So you mean to tell me that if you knew you had 1 day to live you’d first make sure you had a really good night of sleep instead of doing something that would make the life worth living?“

Hi, my name is Vlad, I run marathons.


I am for all practical purposes an obese guy. 6’1”, 205 lb.

Yet every year I tell people that I run marathons and half marathons for fun. This year I did the “Goofy Marathon” at Walt Disney World which is a Half marathon on Saturday followed by a full marathon on Sunday. Over 40 miles including all the walking from the parking lot.

I’ve done marathons and half marathons all over Florida for years now because it’s the time I get to disconnect from my life and business and gain some perspective about how easy it is to give up and just how much nicer it would be to do nothing at all.

Yet, when I talk to people that are in far better shape than I am, I constantly hear one thing: “Oh, I could never do that. I just can’t do long distances. I just can’t do running. Or jogging. Or walking really. I can’t do cardio.”

The words “I did a marathon” don’t imply that I ran 26.2 miles and that it was down to me and a Nigerian who just happened to be a better sprinter in the last quarter mile. I was behind him. Way, way, way behind him. I’m pretty sure that by the time I was half way though my marathon the said Nigerian was already getting his first drink on his flight back home. You get the picture, I jog. For hours.

The Secret To Failing

I am not arrogant enough to tell you that I know a secret to success.

I am however experienced enough to tell you that I know the secret to failing. I’ve failed at stuff more times than I can count and it all comes down to one thing:

I didn’t try hard enough.

Now don’t get me wrong. I had fantastic excuses. Really, really, really good ones.

However… As I’ve gotten older and slightly less foolish I’ve realized that I have a rather limited amount of time around here (life) to do my thing and earn the kind of lifestyle I want.

If you honestly look back at all your failures you can probably track down at least half of them to the lack of effort, care or time you put into seeing them done.

The Reality

The reality is that yes.. you can do a marathon. People that survived horrific diseases make up an unusually large number of marathon participants. Practically crippled and astonishingly old do as well. Anyone can run a marathon. And trust me, you can make it through the day without 8 hours of sleep.

So you’re gonna go register for that marathon today, right? Wake up at 6 AM tomorrow instead of 8 AM? Yeah?

Of course not. Cause what’s in that for you, right? And I don’t mean what’s in it for you like a year down the road or four years later – what’s in it for you right now, immediately?

There is a reason why most people don’t have college degrees. It’s not time, it’s not money, it’s not brains – it’s effort. It takes a heck of a lot of dedication to pursue something that’s four years away for which you’ll be in debt for a decade and benefits won’t be fully realized even longer than that.

Yet, people are able to see beyond that. People are able to walk / run / jog. People are able to go to college. People are able to have kids, sleep 4 hours a night and keep on making things better with each and every day.

Optimism vs. Pessimism vs. Reality

I’ve fired a lot of people who felt their barely-40-hours-a-week were enough for them to keep their job. I’ve passed on a lot of resumes that felt cover sheets were not necessary.

The reality, whether you’re a pessimist or optimist, is that you’ve got to treat everything like it’s your own and your own benefit it on the line. If you’re cynical about that, you’ve already lost.  And that’s what happens – people go into things with the best of intentions but get cynical, tired, exhausted… they give up, slack off and ultimately they are out of work.

The same happens to entrepreneurs. We get excited about projects and potential revenues, we start building a business plan, we fund it, we build it, we market it, we start to really see the results but it’s just not enough right now. We want more. Faster. Different. We lose interest, we let someone else deal with the difficult stuff. We ignore the leadership we need in our business.

So… what now?

Nobody is going to go run a marathon as a result of all this, nor are you going to go get a college diploma or put in any more hours at your job.

The point of this blog post is to understand how things fail.

Do you want more than what you’ve got? Do you want a better life? Well, then you’ve gotta do more than you’re doing now and do it consistently and persistently.

If you need the qualifiers like how much time, for how long and how hard – then don’t bother. Desire for success is an internal quality and work ethic is something you build every day. You’ve either got it or you don’t.

So this is a brief introduction to my answer I promised in this post. The first question in trying to determine if you need to continue or quit is in being honest with yourself about your current predicament. Did you get yourself in this position and do you believe that by working harder or longer you actually have a shot. If the answer is yes you’re on the right path.

8 Responses to Why Things Fail

  1. What is effort? Now I am not trying to be a smart ass (that just comes naturally,) but you and I both know you have to define “effort” in a day and age where idiots are allowed to roam freely. I believe people confuse being busy with being productive. I further believe that a majority of unsuccessful people are unsuccessful because they either have no priorities or their priorities have no value – in other words, they treat each equally. The day I say I have worked all day and feel like I have accomplished nothing is the day that I didn’t put effort into anything. I didn’t recognize my tasks for the day. I didn’t prioritize my tasks. I didn’t concentrate on one task, complete it and move on to the next. And that is what a majority of business owners do. They “multitask.” And in return, didn’t apply enough effort to one task to accomplish anything. I have noticed people want to operate their business perfectly in an imperfect world. That is just not possible. Business owners who wait until conditions are perfect will become static. As a result, they will become frustrated. End result: Chapter 11. To be successful, you have to do something. Anything. Make decisions and move forward. Good, bad or indifferent. Failure is only failure if you didn’t learn from it.

  2. Paulie says:

    If you ate less, and more well you could keep up with the Nigerian.

    If you ran harder and faster, you could keep up with the Nigerian.

    If you slept more, you could keep up with the Nigerian.

    You could keep up with the Nigerian, you just aren’t trying hard enough.

    Sleep is essential to being a good athelete, without it your muscles will never repair or grow.

    Don’t assume, because you went the distance that you did well.

    I run and cycle, I am always in a race against myself. As long as you are always pushing yourself, don’t worry about the Nigerian.

  3. Vlad Mazek says:

    Good points Paulie, if the goal was to win the marathon those would be the necessary sacrifices. However, the goal was to finish the marathon in the set amount of time, get some quiet time and have fun.

    Now to draw a parallel to running or working in a business and about to fail as an owner or a worker: If you set out to do the bare required minimum and only show spurts of effort every now and then you don’t get anywhere. The longer you go, the harder it gets, and the more excuses you’ll have for why you just can’t do more.

    Over the years that I’ve blogged – and you can go through the comments and read it yourself – you’ll find a lot of people that have argued for why they can’t go to the conferences, won’t get certifications, can’t do one thing or another.

    Once you become crafty at making excuses as to why you can’t be successful at something, failure is just around the corner.


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  5. Andrew Moon says:

    As always, great read Vlad. Consistently & persistently!!! Thanks man.

  6. Helder Machado says:

    Vlad, I just found your blog today. OUTSTANDING! I couldn’t agree with you more. I’ve been there, for that matter, I think that we’ve all been there, the “gut check”. How bad do I want this? I can’t tell you how many people I’ve met that fit your description. They want more than they got and they want a better life, but they are unwilling to do anything about it; almost crippled by their own limitations that they impose upon themselves. I continuously have people tell me what I can and can’t do and I love to prove them wrong.

    BTW, I am preparing for a half-marathon this year, up to 10 miles so far, one of my college buddies ran the Goofy this year and that is a huge accomplishment. I hope to run the Boston Marathon next year, personal goal. The goofy would be next when I finish that one. My goal as yours is not to win but to finish with my head held high.

    Thanks for the motivation,

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  8. Hi I like this post and it was so good and I am gonna save it. I Have to say the Indepth analysis you have done is trully remarkable.No one goes that extra mile these days? Well Done.. Just another suggestion you caninstall a Translator for your Worldwide Readers …

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