Thursday, July 1, 2010

Post-Failure Attitude

Optimist’s Perspective

2010.07.01_ThumbsUp If you take risks, you’ll likely fail some of the time.  I’m not writing about taking stupid, life-threatening risks like driving at 120 mph on the Southern California freeways!  I’m referring to taking professional, calculated risks in business.  You may have set aggressive sales goals for your organization then taken a risk by focusing on a handful of key prospects.  You may decide to take on a project that everyone else in your company shies away from.  You may have decided to start a company in a down economy.  No matter what, even if the big goal is eventually obtained, it’s EVENTUALLY obtained, not necessarily immediately.  That means there are many steps in between that could lead to failure.

That’s OK.  In fact, that’s good. Many leaders in our communities speak and write about this.  You may have even read a post on this blog about it.

What’s important is not whether you’ll experience failure.  You will!  What’s supremely important is how you come out of it.  What’s your attitude after you risked everything and lost that key account, your dream project, your job?  Do you become bitter?  Do you dwell on what went wrong?  Or do you analyze what lead to the failure, realize what you need to change, and change it? 

The best answer is the affirmative response to that last question.  It’ll show in your demeanor and how you treat others. If the fact that you’ve failed in certain endeavors doesn’t scare or upset you, then you’ll come out of them stronger, exemplifying Nietzsche’s “what does not kill me, makes me stronger.”

Here are a few tips on how to quickly assess a failed attempt, learn from it, and prepare for the next risk that’ll EVENTUALLY lead to your success:

  1. Accept You Were at Fault
    This is a key point.  Be honest.  In every case, and I mean EVERY…SINGLE…case, you had something to do with the failure.  So, own it.  Accept that the failure was yours and be proud of it.  Feel the power of knowing you were the master of your own destiny and your choices led to the eventual outcome. 
  2. List All of Your Decisions
    List every decision you made and people you influenced.  Include decisions you avoided.  Who else should you have contacted, spoken with, influenced, befriended.  This is a big one.  After all, our decisions pave the road to our successes or failures.
  3. What Key Ingredients Were You Missing
    Did you not have the  right resources? Were you short on funds? Did you have the wrong technology at your disposal? Were you able to make decision?  With what elements in place would you have been able to be successful? 

    Believe it or not, this is not an important ingredient in your recovery, but it’s a necessary step so that you can convince yourself the failures have more to do with decisions than a lack of resources or funds.  You’ll notice that many elements, if not all, that you list here you could have found or had if you’d made the decision to pursue them.
  4. What Would You Change and Why
    The culmination of the last three elements should guide you to this question.  You should now know what was in your control (everything) that you could’ve changed.  You’ll need to pay especial attention to determine how to better make decisions in the future.  Will you need to gather more information, where possible, before making a decision? How will you insure that you make more decision, more often, and more effectively in the future?
  5. Commit to Change
    The final step is to commit to making changes.  If you don’t commit, you’ll drive yourself mad, because you’ll continue to make the same mistakes and get the same results.  What’s more, if you don’t change, you’ll continue to dwell on what happened and wonder how things can be different.

All of this leads to a more positive attitude, a certain x-factor, that’ll insure your final win.

What Do You Think?

Have you experienced failures and found your way to success?  Feel free to share your stories below.

 

Photo Credit: richkidsunite