Blog Post #441 Goals – and Failure

Goals – and Failure

Okay, you have made some great goals, with very specific features, you can picture yourself reaching your goals, you have emotional ties to reaching that goal.  You see yourself very successful in what you set as a goal. You have a plan to reach that goal.

So, the date comes up – let’s say December 31, 2018 – and you didn’t make your goal.  Maybe you were close, maybe you weren’t close. You had put a lot of time and effort in reaching that goal.  You planned you worked at it, you put post-it notes on your mirror, you talked to yourself every day about that goal – and you didn’t make it.  BUMMER!!!!

Failure can be good, it can be very good, maybe even a ‘great’ experience!!

There are many stories of very successful people failing – Lincoln, Edison, and many others.  Let’s look at failure as a learning tool:

  1. That (experiment/test trial) didn’t work – cross it off the list and try again.
  2. Maybe you didn’t plan deep enough
  3. You had a plan and didn’t execute it well enough
  4. Factors beyond my control led to the failure.

Cross it off the list and try again:

Supposedly Edison tried many combinations before finding a solution to the electric light bulb.  It might be that a certain metal or alloy just wasn’t a good filament for a light bulb, or that the partial vacuum in the bulb wasn’t the right combination of oxygen, nitrogen, and other gasses.

Amazon was unprofitable for its first ten years.  Was that a failure?

Think of going through a corn maze.  As you reach a dead end, you can (should) mark that end off as a dead end and not enter it again.  Trial and error can be a successful tool if there aren’t all that many options.

So, if you failed, get up, dust off your pants (figuratively) and start again.  If there is a real solution, keep going until you find it.

You didn’t plan deep enough or well enough:

Did you consider all the variables?  What did you overlook? Is it possible that with a little more research into the situation, you might have a better plan?  For the early years of trying to climb Mount Everest, the ‘only’ route was through Tibet. But, when Tibet became part of China, that route was closed and climbers tried climbing from Nepal (and that was where the successful attempts came).  

You want to be in a professional orchestra.  You have practiced for years, you can play your parts so well.  When it came to audition for the New York Philharmonic, you didn’t make it.  So, do you throw your violin in the trash and apply to work at Walmart? No – you can try for the Cleveland Symphony, or the Atlanta Symphony or others.  It might just have been only one opening for a violin player with the New York Philharmonic – and the sister of one of the current players (whose father teaches at Julliard School of Music and is a big supporter of the Philharmonic) was selected.

You had a plan and didn’t execute it well enough:

If you are working as a team, maybe not all the team members have ‘bought in’.  Maybe you assumed it was going to be a snap and didn’t take the situation seriously enough.  Many sports example work here – where a team or individual didn’t take the competition seriously enough and got beaten.

Factors beyond your control:

Let’s face it, there are times when there are things you cannot control.  Obviously, you can’t control the weather. You picked a date six months ago for the company picnic and it rains.  You created a brand new product only to learn that Google took a very similar product to market two days ago. (and you didn’t know about it and couldn’t control it)

As you and your team approach a problem one of the vital team members gets sick or is in an automobile accident and that puts you behind and you end up failing.  

Things to think about:

  • Think about a situation where you either failed – or didn’t achieve what you expected.  What was the reason? What did you learn from that? What might you do to avoid it in the future?
  • Can companies like individuals become remarkable and can being remarkable help avoid failure?
  • When you have failed or done poorly, what was your attitude?  Did you whine? Or did you approach it with a positive attitude?

Quote for today – Sometimes by losing a battle, you find a new way to win the war.

Posted by Bruce White

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