Thursday, 25 October 2012

Here's A Formula For Failure!

Friday 31 August, 2007
If you don't want to fail, pay careful attention to this formula. If you do want a good lesson, have a gutsy go at failure now and again!
I won't claim authorship of this one - but I will claim experience, and undying gratitude.   Many years ago one of my best mates gave it to me, originally noted by Steve Brown of the Fortune Training Group.
He said:
There are three reasons people will fail.
  1. They don't know what their job is;
  2. They don't know how to do it; and
  3. Someone or something gets in the way.
How simple is that?  And isn't it just so true?
It struck me as essentially wise.  Not only in its content but in its application.  Because if you know what the causes of failure are, it's a whole lot easier to avoid them.
It's a very valid structure for planning your management strategies around your business, yourself - and even your family!
Let's take a look at each one of the reasons for failure in turn:
  1. People will fail if they don't know WHAT their job is

    I would add - and if they don't know WHY it matters.  This clearly means that we all need clarity and understanding of our purpose before we can move towards it.

    Some of us are ‘global' thinkers with a big picture orientation, and some of us are ‘specific' thinkers, with a detail orientation.  The Globals will want the why, the macro, the values, the goals, the purpose.  The Specifics will want the who, what, when and where, the boundaries, the priorities, and the focus.

    Each thinking framework has difficulty understanding the needs of the other - and yet we need both.  So whether in our own lives or in management, we need to really get it that a lot of people need a different type of input to us, around the WHAT - or they won't act.  It's a set up for failure.
  2. People will fail if they don't know HOW to do their job

    But even more so if they won't admit they don't know how.  And here's the rub.  We are hired and rewarded for ‘knowing', aren't we?  And often criticised for ‘not knowing'.  Yet the enemy of learning is knowing!  And each day we need to be willing to learn anew HOW to do our job in a more innovative, more creative and even more effective way than we did it yesterday.

    Continual learning is now accepted as a valuable framework for organisations to operate within - but they won't if mistakes are disallowed and learning is not applauded.  The willingness to learn is the key.  Being stuck in old knowledge, or worse, pride and arrogance, is the real downfall.
  3. People will fail if someone or something GETS IN THE WAY

    You and I both know that someone or something always gets in the way!  I guarantee you we could both name at least a dozen saboteurs, provocateurs and other more nastily named culprits on whom we can blame our failures, with total ease.   Clients, customers, colleagues - and most certainly the government!  Even good old family and friends get a run in the blame game.

    It's a fact of life that the rest of the world does not sit back or move over to let us have our way every time, unfortunately!  But it's also a feature of life that creates our greatest and most valuable learning, develops our creativity and flexibility, and teaches us wisdom.  The answer is responsibility. ResponsAbility. Claiming personal power, the energy within, finding those wonderful qualities we all possess when we remember them, of innovation and resilience, determination, courage and commitment.
The wheel turns full circle - because if the WHAT and WHY are strong, we will find the HOW, and readily deal with whatever is in the WAY.
If you're sick of slick formulae, I don't blame you.  But with this one, think again.  Its value is in its simplicity.
This 3 pronged fork of failure has helped me to avoid it on many occasions.  I hope it proves as useful to you.
And just in case it doesn't - and you ever fail at anything in the future...

Here's your insurance policy

FAILURE is Forging An Invaluable Lesson Under Real Experience!
I don't know about you, but everything really valuable I have ever learned, I have learned the hard way.
When I get it right, I do my best to analyse what it was that worked, but the truth is that my golden glow probably obscures some potentially valuable lessons.  I tend to celebrate and move on.   When I fail, however, I do it hard.  The feedback hits me in the face, as long as I'm courageous enough to face it.   Sometimes it's very painful.  But our greatest gifts can lie in our deepest wounds.

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