A lot of people keep success journals. They write down all the things that they’ve accomplished, as well as the goals they’ve achieved. But this isn’t how success works. Between all of those successes are a lot of failures, or what might better be described as learning experiences, or feedback, or chances to make some adjustments.
I gave a speech to my Toastmasters group about five years ago. It was a really good speech. It was a great story about a lesson I learned from my first sales manager, and it was full of humor, mostly self-deprecating. The audience loved the speech, and they were highly entertained.
When my evaluator stood up to critique my speech, she said, “Anthony, that was a very good speech. I can’t wait to see it the next time after you have rehearsed it.” Those comments felt like a throat punch. But she was right, and she was calling me on a real weakness. Because I had no stage fright, and because I knew I could entertain the audience for seven minutes, I didn’t rehearse the speech.
From that day forward, I have never spoken without having rehearsed the speech. In fact, that year I gave a keynote to just over 2,000 people. I rehearsed the one hour keynote 35 times. I recorded it on audio and listened to it to make adjustments. Then I recorded myself on video and made more adjustments. I gave a much better keynote than I would have had I not rehearsed.
A small failure taught me what I needed to know to have greater success in the future.
How about the time when I thought a stakeholder in a deal lacked the power to influence the decision? I lost that deal when that stakeholder worked their relationships to award the business to my competitor.
Or what about the time when I left a big meeting believing that the verbal commitment I obtained meant I won the deal only to find out two weeks later that I lost to a competitor who asked for one last bite at the apple.
And there was the relatively long period when I believed that hiring people and paying them well meant that they didn’t need to be managed or led. I was paying to not have to do that. I was wrong, I failed, and I was punished for my mistake.
Your accomplishments give you a sense of pride. But poor “failure” never gets any credit for teaching you what you need to build those successes.
Acknowledging and embracing your failures reminds you of what you have learned and how you finally achieved your successes.
- What failures have you enjoyed recently? (Yes, enjoyed)
- What have you learned from your recent failures?
- How are you applying what you have learned to build future successes?
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Filed under: Failure