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"If you've learned from defeat, you haven't really lost."- Zig Ziglar

How many times have you read articles encouraging you to accept and embrace your failures, as illustrated by the quote above? While failure is a natural occurrence, it isn't necessarily a "good thing," despite what many coaches and gurus may tell you. This might be an unpopular approach but before you write it off, let's elaborate on the definitive relationship between success and failure.

Defining Success and Failure

To understand failure, we have to define it. A failure occurs when the desired outcome does not match the expected outcome. Success occurs when you achieve your desired outcome. Why would you want to accept something you did not have the desire to get?

This is why I suggest there is no such thing as a good failure. When you set out to achieve something, and your outcome is entirely different, it's not cause for celebration.

I want the people with whom I work to succeed and to learn from their successful experiences. And I want you to learn from yours. But when you do fail (and inevitably you will), you must take the right approach, so you learn the right lessons and elevate your understanding with each experience.

How does learning from failure look? It is much more involved than simply saying, "I won't do that again!" If you want to learn from your experiences, you must stop. Take pause to inventory the situation and determine what you're going to do next.

Deconstructing Failure (And Success)

Learning Logsā„¢ (Priority Management) are powerful tools for deconstructing failure and achieving growth. They allow you to closely examine both your successes and your failures so you can move onward and upward. To illustrate how it works, consider this scenario.

Say you are a wedding planner. At your last event, the Smith wedding, the bride's dress got stuck on a loose nail in the church and ripped.

When you have an experience, or a successful experience of a failure, map it out in the following way.
  1. What was the experience? During Mr. And Mrs. Smith's wedding, the bride's dress was ripped by a loose nail.
  2. What was the outcome of the experience? Just the facts. No conclusions or action items. Just write down what happened. In this case, someone missed a nail sticking out of the ground, and it ripped the bride's dress.
  3. Draw conclusions. We were not as diligent in surveying the environment as we should have been.
  4. Craft a plan for the future. From now on, someone will be responsible for conducting a final sweep of the aisle to make sure it is hazard-free.

If we want to develop better habits over the long term that lead to success, we must stop and reflect on both successes and failures using this process. And, write down the process and steps followed as above. Capture your ongoing learning, both for yourself and others.

Your Challenge, If You Choose To Accept It

The late Morty Lefkoe, founder of The Lefkoe Method and the Lefkoe Institute, famously taught that everything that happens around us is simply an event. It has no inherent meaning until we assign it meaning. That ripped dress? Just an event. You can choose to wallow in the horror of watching a bride tear her gown, or you can use it as a valuable learning experience to ensure it never happens again.

Failing and learning is inevitable, but I challenge you to succeed and learn. When you do fail, remember that the most successful people in this world are resilient. They bounce back and recover from the things that happen around them. Bad things will happen throughout your day, your week, your entire career. How will you learn when it happens to you?


Larry Hart

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