Our Failures Don’t Define Us

1 04 2013

Happy Easter! If you celebrate this holiday then you know it’s grounded in the idea of rebirth. From the Bible’s words to the fact that spring is right around the corner (though that’s not quite so apparent right now), this is the time of the year to reflect on the idea of overcoming great obstacles, disappointments or failures and rising above them.

Whenever I work with successful people and ask them about their last year, they invariably say it could have been better. There’s always something that nags at them, something they wish they could have influenced to achieve a better result. I believe that’s one of the things at the heart of their success; they’re never satisfied. So they keep pushing forward and sometimes need help in defining the solution they need to take their business to the next level. I like working with these companies because the culture for success is already in place, the expectations for success are very high and my job is to get them to hone in on something usually very specific.

On the flip side, there are many companies that bring me in because they’re on the other end of the spectrum. They aren’t experiencing success and their companies are starting to feel the strain. I like working with these companies too, but the challenges are very different. For starters, companies (much like sports teams) need to create a culture of success in order for success to thrive there. Often, the culture changes need to precede the results they’re looking for, which means they need to make change in the absence of evidence that the change will work. 

That can be a very tall order. 

I’ve found that taking the first step is more about letting go of failures than it is planning for success. This may sound odd to you, but companies can often impede their own future success simply by focusing too much on past failures. It’s a little like a self-fulfilling prophecy; they spend so much time trying to avoid the last failure that they never prepare for success.

In the spirit of rebirth, I suggest your company take a metaphorical (and literal) deep breath and let go of anything that’s still hanging around from the past. Especially if it’s not doing anything to insure your future. 


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