Notes from Jeff York

Small business marketing thoughts from a marketing small business owner

Failure as an opportunity

with one comment

defeat“Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.” – Henry Ford

“If I find 10,000 ways something won’t work, I haven’t failed. I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward.” – Thomas Edison

Every been beaten down emotionally or professionally? I think every has. It’s not a pleasant experience. When in the throws of the aftermath, it can be difficult to find the silver lining in such a situation. However, to paraphrase the adage, it didn’t kill you, therefore you must be stronger.

So, what did you learn? Did you make a huge mistake? In the grand scheme of things, how big was it?  Did you or your company lose money? As a past manager, I’ve made my share of mistakes as has my staff. Each and every time, we’ve learned from the experience and used it to know what not to do next time. My staff might have cost us some money, but I write that off as the cost of education. As long as we don’t make that mistake again and truely learn from it, it was worth the negative.

Let’s take what I think is an excellent way to turn lemons and make some outstanding lemonade in a group setting.

The best run organizations run in an environment where members can feel free to make mistakes, admit to them in a group, and not feel like there will be dire consequences (within reason). It’s not easy to admit to a mistake. It’s far easier to try to sweep things under the carpet and pretend they don’t exists. However, think of all the damage done when members feel like it’s in their best interest to either deny or, worse yet, displace blame.

Embrace the mistake. “Yep, I screwed up. Here’s what I did. Here’s what I/we learned. Here’s what we’re going to do.”

In this current technological age, it’s pretty easy to set up an internal or restricted access Wiki. Put the information there for people to reference and learn from. There’s no need to make it personal. The information can be added such that no names are involved at all. Just the facts, ma’am. Now the organization that suffered from the mistake can now benefit from that cost.

What about personal failures? Even been fired? Ever file for bankrupcy? Opportunities! Both of them.

What did you do that got you into that situation? Are you going to do it again? Maybe it wasn’t anything you felt you did wrong, but went out on a limb to try something new and it “failed.” If that organization isn’t strong enough or savvy enough to try new things to grow, then maybe the lesson learned is to not associate with that type of organization again.

The key thing I’ll hope you remember, sometimes the biggest failures result in the biggest successes.

Stories you’d like to share? I think we could all benefit from hearing about how you turned a difficult situation around and learned from the experience.

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Written by Jeff York

February 15, 2009 at 5:04 pm

One Response

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  1. Reminds me of a great quote from Thomas Watson, the founder of IBM: “Recently, I was asked if I was going to fire an employee who made a mistake that cost the company $600,000. No, I replied, I just spent $600,000 training him. Why would I want somebody to hire his experience?”

    BooeyC

    February 16, 2009 at 10:22 pm


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