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Monday, September 24, 2007

The Difference Maker

By George Chingarande

No one is exempt from the challenges and difficulties of life. Whatever a person aims to succeed at it is likely that from time to time they will meet setbacks and failures. People who handle difficult times and failures badly are not likely to win in life. Attitude towards failure is the great difference maker. Attitude is always important, but it becomes much more important in terms of separating winners from losers during trying times. Winners have healthy perspectives of looking at failures, and empowering attitudes of approaching difficulties. They are not born with these attitudes but they learn them first and then internalize them. Today we have a look at some of them.

Failure is Feedback

• Winners interpret failure as feedback. It is seen as information reaching you from your project or endeavor to the effect that the methods that you are applying have not yet yielded the desired results. This information therefore behooves you to give the current methods more time, or to boost your efforts with new methods. Critically, this information is not an indictment on your abilities or potential. It is essentially an appraisal of the current methods. It is a judgment passed on the methods and process. The problem, if any, is not with you but with the methods that you selected. When success tarries and progress is slow winners do not berate themselves, but they take a closer look at the appropriateness of their methods. Winners are ardent seekers of feedback. They strive to put in place systems that accord them real time feedback which help function as early failure detection mechanisms.

To the contrary, Losers crucify themselves for their failures and mistakes. They point fingers at themselves and not at their methods. In this way they lose a great opportunity to learn and take corrective action. Instead they engage in destructive self chastisement which makes the event more painful and discourages the loser from engaging in future pursuits. The loser thus shoots himself in the foot. Winners understand that failure is feedback that should always feed forward, in the sense that it should yield information that facilitates a more intelligent movement in the progressive direction.

• Every failure contains a lesson

Every setback carries a lesson in its womb. Your challenge is to learn and master the lesson. Winners never make mistakes they only learn lessons, and some of them are learnt the hard way. Failure is sometimes tuition fees towards superior knowledge. The difference between lessons and mistakes is that lessons are exciting while mistakes are a cause for shame. When you glean lessons from your setbacks you can celebrate. However, if you train your eye to see mistakes they will weigh you down with sorrow. If only people knew that there are no mistakes and no failures, but only lessons they would not be afraid to try. Winners deliberately train themselves to scout for the lessons in their set backs. They adopt attitudes of curiosity and not self blame. They make mental notes and written notes of their lessons. From time to time they remind themselves of these lessons. By using this approach deliberately and in a disciplined manner, they turn disasters into capital and maximize on it.

• Failure is an Opportunity

Failure is never final. Failure is an opportunity to begin afresh more intelligently. Yes, set backs sometimes do slow people down and disappoint. However, with every disappointment there is an appointment. With every failure there is a unique opportunity to solve a problem. Problems arise when current methods and processes prove inadequate. Great men are folks like you and me that have distinguished themselves by solving great problems. Failures are also folks like you and me that have shied away from solving the great problems of their times. After all, success is all about solving one problem after the other. Failure should therefore never be made the final full stop to a sentence; it is rather a capital letter beginning a new sentence. Failure should close the door to one phase and open the door to another. Failure has the knack of closing some options and opening some. Every failure and every setback brings with it a possibility for greatness. If you fail to win the presidential race once, there is a possibility that you will make it the second time round. If you fail twelve times, there is a great possibility that you will make history by winning on the thirteenth attempt.

Ultimate failure is therefore a myth. It is the product of quitting, which itself is a very poor option among alternatives. Anyone can outlast any setback or any failure if he so decides. No strategy survives real contact with battle. That moment failure becomes evident is therefore a strategic inflection point. It is a point of departure from the original plan and tactics to a more innovative one. It is not a time to mourn and sulk, but like a grandmaster it is time to muse over the next move.

• A set back is a set up for come back

Every failure is actually a perfect set up for a come back. The deeper the set back, the more exciting the comeback will be. There can never be a comeback story without a set back, just as you cannot rise unless you have been down. A set back is therefore a rare opportunity to plot a comeback. It is a pity that many people waste time nursing their wounds after a set back rather than plotting their return to grace.

In the day of set back your failure philosophy will be the great difference maker.


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