We can learn from both success and failure. In fact, I have probably learned as much from studying the failures of others and my own failings, as I have from studying what works.
Success, failure and feedback
Success and failure are simply feedback. As soon as I figured that out, it changed everything for me. I became a lot more prepared to fail. I knew that if I studied the feedback from a failure, there would be a lesson and if I learned from that lesson, it would be a win for me. This understanding is a foundational element of business success, because if you are afraid to fail, you will stick with what you are comfortable with; those things within your comfort zones. Then, once the best ideas from within your comfort zones have been used, there’s no more room for growth.
The reality is that there is massive value, in learning from failure:
- If you try an email marketing exercise and it fails, you now have feedback, which you can use to make the next one more effective. #win.
- If you give a presentation to a prospective client and they decline, ask them if they would be kind enough to tell you why. This is a super effective way to rapidly improve your presentations or the attractiveness of your products. #win
- If you start writing a business blog and find that (like most business blogs) it’s attracting readers and shares, but few if any business leads, study the data. By looking at your analytics and determining what happens when people reach your site, you can make the changes necessary to transform it into a lead generating machine. #win
- If you exhibit at a trade show and people walk past your booth, rather than stopping at it, observe the booths where they do stop and see what you can learn. #win
- If you add a new service to your business and find clients are not signing up for it, ask them why. Learn what it is that’s causing the disconnect between the value YOU see and the value (or lack of value) THEY see. #win
You get the picture: So-called failures, like those above, are required in order to get the feedback we need, to succeed.
Steve Jobs and joining the dots
In his Stanford commencement address, Steve Jobs spoke about what he called joining the dots. It was a term he used, to describe the way he viewed the value of failure. He said that when he looked back over his life at his many failures, like being fired from Apple or dropping out of college, he was able to join the dots and see how each failure, led to lessons, which allowed him to succeed. He believed that so long as we are driven and prepared to learn, that we too would be able to look back and join the dots, to see how each failure led us to success.
It’s time to learn to embrace failure.