Good Friday morning to you. I hope this week has been as much of a learning experience for you as it has for me. Now we are at the end of our week and it’s time for one last word to look at. Failure is what happens in life when we take every word we focused on this week and let them continue to have a place in our lives and in our view of ourselves. The end result is a failure. But failure is not final, so read on.
When you fail at something it does not mean you are a failure, or that failure is final. We can prevent failure in the many ways, as we talked about earlier this week. Those who really do make a change from saying “can’t” or deciding they “won’t” do something can head off ultimate failure. I referenced Seth Godin's blog post about “can’t” and “won’t” the other day. He talked about a store clerk who was not willing to offer a service to a customer, saying that her store “can’t” do that. Then he pointed out that what she really was saying was she “won’t” take care of her customers’ needs because she didn’t want to go to that much trouble. I want to use a similar idea to go through all we talked about this week and break down how it could lead to failure, if not corrected.
In the movie, RockStar, the lead guitarist of the band, Steel Dragon, tells the singer the band has a formula they stick with to keep the fans at their concerts. He said, “If one fans stops liking our music he will tell someone else. That makes it two less fans, they tell four, they tell six and soon we are playing to a half-empty concert hall.”
Well, let’s go back to the retail idea that Seth mentioned. Let’s say that a sales lady starts telling customers, “We can’t do that; it’s not our company policy.” She really is saying “I don’t want to go to the trouble to find a way to help you” and is using the company policy as an excuse. (Remember, she could at least call a Manager to find out if there is a way to help the customer if she is afraid of breaking policy.) Let’s say she does this a few times. Some customers get upset and stop coming in. One customer meets a corporation manager and tells what happened to them. Someone comes in from corporate and the young sales lady is released from her job.
Now she could learn from her mistake as she finds another job, or she can continue her personal policy of saying “I can’t” when she means “I won’t.” Let’s say she moves to another company, she sees hope in this company and starts off fine but falls back into old habits. After repeating what happened at her last job, she is confronted by higher management again. She is now let go from another company. She starts to think working for others is impossible. She thinks, “Maybe I should get the funding and be my own boss.” She searches and finds investors to start her own store, selling a similar product to where she just worked.
As a coach I have seen this play out with many people. They always get the funding to start a small business venture without learning from the very concept that started the unemployment streak in their life. Now they have a company of their own, maybe a few staff and some debt. They start out with some excitement and since they still have not learned from the very mistake the first time it’s not long before they are saying again to customers, “We can’t do that.” If at this point she still has not learned she must serve her customer, soon the time will come where she is laying people off. Soon the store is closing its doors and this young girl is saying “I’m a loser. I just can’t do this.”
As we look at the story above you may see some mistakes you have made in the past. This week we talked about words that bring failure. But the key to failure is not to make it the end of the story. Failure is not final. As a matter of fact, the main difference between those who are successful and those who fail is that the successful person get up one more time. In life you get back up and try again and you learn from your past experience. The one thing I have always been told about failure and I have heard it said often is that insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result. In this life you have to learn from your failures.
As I mentioned above failure is not final. But before you get back up, and try again, take some time to go over the reason or reasons you might have failed – and be objective. You must step outside yourself and be prepared to find many (if not all) of the reasons are within yourself. You cannot blame all your failure on outside forces over and over. If you feel you have failed repeatedly and you believe you had no role in that failure, you’ve missed something very important.
If it was a job loss, then why did you lose it? Take that reason and work on correcting it. If your business failed, what went wrong? If it was because customers stopped coming, why did they stop? A great exercise is to sit quietly at the end of each day and list what you did right, what you did wrong. After a month of doing this with your business you would see what works and what does not work.
I ask every one of my new clients to keep some sort of journal for learning from what they have going on in their lives. This is the reason for it: to learn from your past, not just what failed but what worked. If you have the chance to review and see what works, do more of it. If something is working you keep doing it. The one success quote that has served me in my current business, my current relationship, is this one from Thomas Edison:
“Many of life’s failures are men who did not realize how
close they were to success when they gave up.” ~~Thomas Edison
So when you find something that works keep working on it until it succeeds. If it’s not working then by all means tweak the formula. I love this quote because I know Thomas Edison had to go through close to 10,000 failed light bulbs to make one good one. To show you success, I’ll bet since that time there have been more the a billion light bulbs made. So think about your life this weekend. Where have you succeeded? Where have you failed? What can you learn from those failures? What’s the plan to make your life better next week?
I’m Tim Gillette, the Rocker Life Coach. It’s time for you to live the life you always wanted, to love what you do and those you share life with. Let us help you become a RockStar in your world