Phoenix From the Ashes – Learning to Profit From Failure

Those of you kind enough to be regular readers of my articles will know that I often make use of various lessons learnt from my first love, 'sport,' to use within my arranged marriage of 'business practice!' This article is no exception. The usual reason for this is that there is a huge amount of…

Those of you kind enough to be regular readers of my articles will know that I often make use of various lessons learnt from my first love, 'sport,' to use within my arranged marriage of 'business practice!' This article is no exception. The usual reason for this is that there is a huge amount of common ground between the two when it comes to Achievement Psychology. What has been developed to assist the sports person, can invariably help the executive and vice versa. This is a positive thing. Today however, and most unusually for me, I have another spur towards my writing, and I am going to focus on a negative thing – Failure. The reason failure is in my mind is because I have just seen my adopted football club, (where our coaching academy is based) suffer an unprecedented relegation into a lower Division. This dose of salts follows on the back of my own boyhood football club also suffering a crippling relegation this season! Now, I do not take any of this personally, I have a mental rule in life which states 'do not worry about or blame yourself for things you can not affect.' This rule works quite nicely when watching the news or reading about some disaster; but is somewhat harder to put into practice when you are surrounded by people that feel they have not only failed in their work and will quite likely lose their jobs and their security, but have also failed the collective effort. It's something of a downer to be around the office, considering another of my maxims is 'do not tolerate the negativity of others in my presence.' One might wonder why I stay around! Now, your own workplace might not be within a sporting academy, but I'm betting that in the current economic climate, the theme of collective failure is just not on the news but actually right on your doorstep in some capacity. Perhaps you've even had a part to play in it. So here is what I do to handle the situation and if it makes you think more positively about your own then I would be very happy!

Here is the big truth that all winners know – 'before one can definitely succeed, one must inevitably fail.' This is as much a universal truth as 'the only real constant is that things will change.' But why is this the case? Why must one fall before they can fly? Well, quite simply because high achievement can only happen with some level of sacrifice, and the spur to that sacrifice is always the pain of previous failure. If you want to soar into the sky like the proverbial phoenix from the ashes, then you must have already crashed and burned. If you did not then you simply were not taking enough risks in the first place. Life is inherently and instinctively about risk management NOT risk avoidance. If you want to be the best, then learn to take calculated chances. It's what living is really about. A sports person is far more likely to win the second time they reach the final of the same competition. Why? Because they use the pain of their previous failure to drive them to success the next time. Their will to win is multiplied. It is exactly the same in business. It might not be something but public but but without exception, the 'dragons' that have really achieved in the business world have also suffered humiliating failures and defeats. It's an astonishing truth that most self made millionaires have also gone bankrupt at some point. Heck, I knew a guy that made a million and went bankrupt three times over! I do not suggest you repeat that pattern though! Though there is an important lesson to be learnt here, whether you work for a company suffering through hard times or are self employed and finding business especially tougher than it had been. Remember that if you keep your belief, positivity and work hard, then failure is a precursor to greater success. That's a universal rule.

So, amidst all the angst, that is what I am telling the troubled souls around me in the office. The lesson does not always sink in, some people take a longer time than others with their pity parties. They like to feel sorry for themselves. But once the penny drops, then the healing can begin, as can the climb back up the mountain. Yes, it is hard, but the chances are you'll reach the top this time. So stay positive and look forward.