If you are successful, you suck!

Posted by Heather Villa, CMA, MBA, MSM on March 31, 2010 in: Business - Plain & Simple, Project Management

If you achieve all of your goals in the day, you suck.
If your business earns scads of profit every week, you suck.
If, when someone asks you how you’re doing, you truthfully and consistently answer “great”, you suck.

Why would I say this? Because failure is healthy; it’s important; and it can help you grow personally and professionally.

Someone who achieves all of their goals every day is setting goals too low.
Someone whose business is often highly profitable is probably not making additional business investments (some of which succeed and some of which fail) to strengthen their business for the long-term.
Someone who is always “great”, day in and day out, is trending towards the average and not branching out into the scary unknown.

Failure IS an option. Failure makes us pause and rethink what really matters and develop new innovations. It’s why children learn language so fast – because they’re not afraid of getting most of the words in a sentence wrong; eventually people will understand what they are saying.

Failure can happen on a number of levels: 99_failure_success20_tshirt

  • It can be a complete business failure. I know a few people whose first enterprises failed and now they are on their second and third enterprises, which are very successful because the first one failed.
  • It can be a delivery failure. If you get an irate customer who doesn’t appreciate the service you’ve provided, you will make changes in the future and eliminate the possibility of a repeat performance.
  • It can be marketing failure. A poor response doesn’t necessarily mean that you start over; just that you rethink how (and to whom) you are positioning your offer.

There are many more ways that failure can inspire new opportunities. The value of failure, though, only happens when you learn from it and build on it rather than continuing to do the same thing over and over.

So, what can you do today to excel in the face of failure? Here’s what I suggest:

1.    Write down a recent failure, whether big or small.
2.    Break it down into distinct parts – perhaps the process or the pieces of the deliverable. Just something more manageable so you’re not looking at the whole thing.
3.    Look at each of those smaller elements and perform a SWOT analysis on them.

You should start to see a cascading impact that one element had on another or you might see how a previously unseen problem sunk the whole ship. Get someone else’s opinion, too, just in case you aren’t seeing things clearly. Once you have this information, you have a recipe to move forward! Play off of your strengths and opportunities; mitigate your weaknesses and threats; start over again.

While we’re on the subject of failure, you really should read this great article by Peter Bregman, CEO of management consultant firm Bregman Partners Inc. Why You Need to Fail. This article talks about how to build failure into every day, which sounds counter-intuitive but is exactly the right thing to do.

And now, I’d like to invite my readers to tell me – if you’re bold enough! – how you have failed and what you learned from it. Don’t be shy! Failure is nothing to be ashamed of if it has helped us to grow.

Heather Recommends:

If you are a coach, freelancer, or entrepreneur who wants to succeed like a pro, I can help.

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