Bouncing Back from Failure

Failure or success



Recently, my husband told me I spend too many evenings on my computer and should be giving him more of my attention.  The problem is I thought I had cut back on evening work and I thought I was giving him lots of my attention.  With two of my three children at college, I had made it a goal to make more time for him this year. So, his comments made me feel like I had failed.

Have you ever felt you had failed in reaching a goal in a personal relationship? How about in the workplace?

Lots of us set big goals for ourselves, some more achievable than others. Sometimes our failure is obvious — our big client fires us or we lose our jobs. Other times, our marriage becomes rocky or our kids get into trouble. I am not going to tell you turning around failure is easy. But you have to start somewhere so I can at least lay out some steps.

* Acknowledge your situation. This is small, yet extremely big step. It’s really easy to wear blinders and believe everything is okay. However, if someone or something indicates you are falling short of your goal, rather than get defensive, open your eyes to the need to make a change.

* Search for the root cause of what went wrong. Listen to what the people around you are telling you. “The cause of failure is usually not what people think it is,” said David Harkleroad of Chief Outsiders, a consultant to CEOs of small and mid-sized businesses.  Listening carefully to spouses, customers, team members and trusted advisors reveals a clue for how to course correct: “It requires listening to understand, not listening to respond.”

* Evaluate your options. Whether in business or your personal life, you will need to figure out whether to simply pivot or completely stop doing what you’ve been doing. “You have to be decisive but you also have to live with your decisions,” says Vincent Smith, a Miami pharmacist and serial entrepreneur whose latest product is PopScope.  “I learned you don’t want to go on too long if you’re not making money (or failing in a relationship) and you don’t want to be too connected to an idea where you no longer become objective. Whether you’re the guy who introduced McPizza to the McDonald’s menu or the one who expanded Pollo Tropical into an underperforming market, recognizing the signs for when to give up and reading the signs can be critical to long-term success.

* Reach out to those around you.  Success often requires a team at home or work who can cover each other’s blind spots. “To get that means you sometimes have to give up control,” says Johnson of ActionCoach. “If you get the right people in the positions they are wired for and empower them, that will reverse failure because it is leverage as opposed to you trying to micromanage everything yourself.” At home, think as a team as well. Let your significant use his or her strengths to buffer your weaknesses.

* Hone your network. If your business or strategy fails, your business relationships will become crucial. Your network should include  mentors, future employers or team leaders who will give you a job, point you down the right path or give you the support to build back your confidence.  Kenneth Rader and his twin brother Josh Rader founded The Cereal Bowl in 2006. The fledgling novelty concept selling dozens of cereals for about $ 4 a bowl was unable to survive the 2009 recession when credit tightened and disposable income became scarce. But when the business shuttered, the Raders bounced back by using existing connections and applying learned skills in a new way. “Walking away was hard to do, but we made good relationships and gained mentors,” Kenneth says.

* Learn from your mistakes.  Kenneth says running a business, particularly one that failed, has given him invaluable business knowledge. “Mitigating risk is an important skill that we learned and use even in our current jobs.” Adds Josh: “You get that ability with failure to look back and see what we should have done, learn from it and move forward.” The same is true with life experiences. Look at setbacks as learning experiences, and seek ways to reach your goals differently going forward.

I’ve decided to map out my evenings and give myself a time I won’t work past. I am hoping it will help me reverse course and achieve my goal by year end. My relationship with my spouse is a priority, and I’m determined to assure its success.

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