Written by: Brian Smith & Matt Wilhelmi
When asked to write about his learnings from failure, our senior managing partner at IA was surprised. He wrote, “Failure to me is like speaking of death; it’s final.” Admitting failure is like closing your favorite book just when the hero is about to prevail. At IA, we look at “failures” and define them more casually as setbacks. We never admit failure at IA.
Our clients only have challenges, minor mistakes, and small setbacks. How is it that we can be so sure of our clients and ourselves? We follow a small routine to ensure that we never have to admit failure.
1) Identify Setbacks
When you are working on a project or working towards a goal, minor setbacks are almost always guaranteed to happen. Identifying your setbacks will allow you and your team to come up with a solution and continue moving forward. By not identifying what is going wrong and inhibiting you from reaching your goal, you and your team will either admit failure or leave a project unfinished. Never admit failure. Setbacks can come in small and big packages. No matter the setback, make sure to identify it first and then you can continue to the second step in our process.
2) Use Setbacks as an Opportunity
Sometimes setbacks can spark creative genius, or push your group to do something completely different, out-of-the-box, and better than the original plan! Setbacks will always be a shock at first and might cause a little bit of anxiety and panic. This is normal! Just know that you need to identify your setback and then use that setback to give you the best possible outcome with the situation you have. Even if you face bankruptcy, do not admit failure. Use this life lesson as a tool to continue and do something that maybe you never would have considered! The only failure we see is giving up on yourself.
3) Own Your Decision
Now there are countless and endless amounts of scenarios that could have been written into this blog, because let’s face it, life is messy. Anything can happen. The last step here is to own your decision. Be confident and comfortable with the new path you have chosen to follow due to your unforeseen circumstance. If you aren’t happy with this new path, figure out what solution is going to allow you to continue that you will be proud of. When you come out of a setback, no matter the size, you have to own your decision.
So what if your business closes down, or you make the conscious decision to close it? We don’t view that as failure! It is a decision you have made with the circumstances you have been given. You decided to move past challenges that could not be overcome at that point in time. Do not listen to those who speak of failure as a badge of honor. These are the individuals that have become stuck in an endless loop of repetitive challenges and use the word failure to justify their poor decisions.
Use your setbacks as opportunities! Identify them, own them, and then move past them with an affirmation to never repeat whatever caused it. Progress is not hard, failure is hard! Progress feels good; lessons feel good. Tackle challenges with a pause, use the experience to grow, and never use the word failure!
Have you ever had a time when you thought you would have to admit failure? What did you do to turn things around? Share your stories with us!