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Turning Failures into Wins
Failure is a detour, not a dead-end street.
Recently, members of a CEO group I run were discussing how to best utilize our last three months together. They had already presented their own company issues to the group. Someone suggested we discuss everyone's greatest successes and failures. The group decided failures provided more valuable lessons than successes. How could that be? While successes make us feel good, failures shake us up and jar our belief systems.
We all rely on too many assumptions. When our businesses are going well, we often don't take time to think about why. Failure brings out the analyst in us. We ask the following questions: Why did this happen? What could I have done differently? Why didn't I see that coming? What was I thinking?
Finding answers to these questions turn "old" failures into future successes. Typical types of large-scale mistakes in businesses are:
Once you have identified what went wrong, it takes effort not to repeat your mistakes. Understanding the cause and effect is important. Ask yourself, "Could I have planned better? Why didn't I listen to people around me? If I spent more time and money on research, would I have made the same decision?" Look for patterns in your decision-making process. Understand your areas of weaknesses.
What got in the way of doing it right?
The greatest successes often come from repeated failures. Abe Lincoln ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Congress twice before he was elected president. Thomas Edison had many failed inventions before his successes. He expressed his can-do attitude this way, " I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." Realizing that failures are the appetizers in the feast of success will help you use those hurdles to get where you want to go, to reach the wins.
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