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Success and Failure: Two Sides of the Same Coin By Graeme Nichol

Failure is Great

You are probably asking yourself what could be good about failing. Failing means … well … that you failed, that you didn’t achieve the results you wanted and that things didn’t turn out as you hoped. What could be good about that?

The advantage is that you now know one way not to do something. And this is as useful as knowing one way of how to do something.

As Thomas Edison said, “Just because something doesn't do what you planned it to do in the first place doesn't mean it's useless.... Results? Why, man, I have gotten lots of results! If I find 10,000 ways something won't work, I haven't failed. I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is often a step forward.... “

Failure is a learning opportunity, but only if you let it be. More often than not failure is seen as something that should be hidden and avoided and never admitted to. How often in your company do you think people make the same mistakes over and over again because no one ever admits to the mistake or examines why the mistake was made.

Would it not be more cost effective and time effective if when a mistake is initially made that it results in a learning opportunity? Each time something doesn’t go according to plan think about you could do next time to get the results you want? What was missing? What needs to be added? What needs to change?

Once the answers to the questions have been thoroughly explored with an open mind and no assumptions, then take those learnings and apply them to the future. Every company should continually strive to learn and improve. Just because a particular method works doesn’t mean it is the best one. Strive to improve.

Be prepared to fail and learn – it is the only way forward.

Celebrate Successes

The opposite side of the same coin – success. Just as it is important to analyze your failures and learn from them so it is also important that you celebrate your successes and repeat them.

Every year we strive to do be better and be more successful at what we do. Often, however, we only remember successes that are so large that they hit us right in the face, when they are so large that everyone else congratulates you. We remember landing a $100 million dollar account or tripling our profits from the year before or being awarded some Presidential award.

While these are amazing successes that you should definitely celebrate and tell the world about they are not the kind of successes that most of us can hope to achieve. The rest of us need to be happy with the smaller more mundane successes. Successes like generating a profit in our business, getting the client we have been trying to land or simply being thanked by one of our clients for a job well done.

Although these may seem like small successes, lots of small successes like these add up to a successful business, motivated staff and a happy you. Now what if you could repeat each of your small successes so that you could achieve them on a monthly or weekly basis – wouldn’t that spell big success for your business?

To achieve that big success you therefore need to celebrate each of your small successes. You need to remember each of them, examine them and find a way of repeating them. Sit down now and think, over the last year, what you did well. Think about what you succeeded in doing, what someone thanked you for, and, where you were appreciated.

Create a list of your successes – no matter how small – examine them to find a way that you could repeat them. What was the essence of the success that would make it repeatable? Break the success into small process steps, think about everything that you did to get to the end point of success. Not just the big steps, think about each little step that was taken.

It is often not the big steps that determine a success – it is the little things. Maybe you wrote a client a thank you letter, or you called a client to see how they were doing. Maybe you referred a client to someone else to solve a problem that you couldn’t. You could also have rewarded your staff or done something out of the ordinary for them to make them perform above and beyond.

Think about each success in great detail.

You should now be able to see where you did something differently to achieve the successful result. Your next step is to put together a plan on how you are going to repeat your past successes. Your plan should include each of those necessary steps that resulted in the success.

By understanding and planning for your successes you will be able to repeat them and eventually be able to achieve the large success – a successful business or department.

Plan for success, learn from failures.

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