The great motivational speaker and salesperson, Charlie “Tremendous” Jones once said that he has learned to never think or say that he has figured it out, but only that he is learning. This speaks to me of both humility, and of growing as we face challenges.
Think about it, where would you be if you had not made mistakes along the way? What did you learn from those mistakes? Is it possible, in retrospect at least, that the lesson you learned outweighed the disappointment of failure? Sometimes the failure looms so close in front of us, that we can’t see the big picture and move forward.
I am learning every day, and I am thankful for the lessons. Don’t get me wrong. I avoid failure like the plague. However when I fail, I am learning to glean everything I can from that failure and press forward. It sounds like such common sense, but common sense just isn’t so common. It is much easier to wallow and eat lots of comfort food.
How do we make good on our failures? Here are just a few things I am learning…
There is nothing like failure to gain perspective! When we are humbled, we have a new view of things. Maybe we realize that our priorities were wrong, or our motives were wrong. If in failure you can find new perspective, don’t lose it. Write it down. Use it to improve and attain that goal of yours. If the failure proves to you, that your goal is the problem, reset your goal and move forward.
In failure there is success. Have confidence in spite of this temporary setback that you will get there. If you are choosing a course that you know is right and good, you will succeed. Set a course, learn, and continue forward. Don’t let you be what holds you back. Read, think and converse with people that are positive. One of the best things you can do to stay positive and grow is turn off the TV.
Learn from your mistakes. If you do the same thing over and over, you will get the same results or worse. This seems so simple. Yet so often, we pick ourselves up from failure and press on to do the exact same thing and end up in the same place. Sometimes having the perspective of another person, who is brutally honest with you, is the only way to see clearly. We are all so afraid of hurting someone, that we do them a disservice by candy coating things. A true friend knows when to tell you how it is!
Charlie Jones also said “We will be the same person in five years that we are today except for two things: the people we meet and the books we read”. My father-in-law, Gary, who founded CT, was constantly searching out knowledge through reading and prayer. He was a great example for me of a lifelong learner. It is really important that we carve out time to learn and grow! Are you an expert? Would you like to be?
I like structure. I like to know what is next, and where I am headed. We can certainly overdo structure. I have seen many a detail-type person bog down in the minutia and not get anything done. However, there is a very good part of structure and process. If you reach your goal by following a process and structure, you can recreate the success! In business, I am learning the importance of creating processes that bring consistency in everything from sales to delivery of service.
We have each heard the saying “practice makes perfect” a million times since our childhood. This simple common sense truth often gets overlooked. I am learning that once I have a process for doing something, the only way to get good at it is to practice. I am learning to role play new client sales meetings with my sales team. We often do project walk-throughs to make sure that we have everything covered. Practice really does make all the difference in everything from public speaking to installing technology.
I am learning to challenge my ideas and consider whether I am choosing the right thing or the comfortable thing. Am I choosing this path because it is easy or because it is right? Also, is it what I should be doing? Or, would it be better for someone else to do?
As Steven Covey instructs us, sharpen the saw. Take time to yourself. This takes a different shape for everyone, but failure often comes from burnout. It is simply amazing how much my stress goes down, if I take time to enjoy with my family, to seek God, and reserve time for the important and not just the urgent.
I think of the flywheel example in the book Good to Great, when I think of persevering. Sometimes it just takes some time to get that flywheel turning. Sometimes you just have to keep doing the right things until it starts to turn, and then, once the momentum has built-up things really take off. Persevere. Never give up!
The great thing about continuous learning is that it has an impact. It is an awesome thing to see new initiatives and changes begin to take root and grow!