Failing to Acknowledge Failure

How many of us as we start to set goals and create plans stop to analyze the possibility of failure? Adrienne Asselmeier, a guest blogger at bplans.com, in her recent post, Failure is an Option, commented recently that “When all you can think about is success, goals, and growth, then you’re not going to have a Plan B.”

“Dren” is right when she comments that people don’t really want to think about failure, but inevitably any plan will have some little failures in it. She points out that lots of people are starting to talk about failure in blogs and on the conference circuit. Failure is actually good, and our friend, if we learn from it. If we understand that we are likely to fail at first, it won’t bother us to do so–it is part of the process of learning. Setbacks are part of achievement.

While we should expect we will face setbacks, we should not use this as an excuse to inadequately plan. We should be looking at our plans and asking questions, challenging our assumptions. For example, Why do I believe my sales projections are accurate? How do I know it will take this long to manufacture my product? Why should I believe I can recruit the team in the time allotted?

The management discipline that addresses the real challenges any plan or organization faces and deals with threats, active and potential is Risk Management. It is all part of grounding yourself in the realities of the market. You want to understand what you face so that you can adequately plan.

I think a lot of people confuse what is Plan B. For many the thinking goes, “If I fail at starting this software company, I can always be a bartender.” If you want to run a nightclub, bartending so you can learn more about running a club might be something of a Plan B. But real Plan B’s are about taking a different approach to getting your dream. I wanted to go to the U.S. Naval Academy for college. I wanted to be a Marine Officer. Knowing that the academic standards were rigorous, my Plan B was not to become a Music major at the local college. I enlisted in the armed forces and got some education to prepare me. This plan also kept me near my dream, keeping me focused on my mission. I entered the Naval Academy 1 year to the day after I entered enlisted service. Sure there was hard work in there, it didn’t happen by magic. But I knew what I wanted and was not going to accept failure. It was an option, but not one I had to settle for.

Failure is an Option by Adrienne Asselmeier at bplans.com

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Fixing your fix on Fear

Over in the Inc.com blogs recently, Eric V. Holtzclaws, CEO and founder of Laddering Works, talks about four major fears facing entrepreneurs. Not an entrepreneur? These may be keeping you held back in your work or calling. He also offers great prescriptions for each:

  • Fear of Failure. The obvious one. who wants to suck? Holtzclaws says pay attention to what works and doesn’t, and deal with it. This translates to regularly review your operation so you can act.
  • Fear of Success. If it works, you must perform. Can your operation meet the demand? Plan ahead and find someone in your industry you can partner with. My buddy Phil Leonhardt of CSL Media in Fredericksburg found another printer to handle specialty jobs he doesn’t have the equipment to service so that he can still meet customer needs.
  • Fear of Starting. Things seem too large? Not sure what to do? Just start! I teach clients, when setting goals to think of something, however small to do today when getting started. Even a small step will give you confidence to take more action. After all, you will have started!
  • Fear of Loss. Risk and loss can freeze us. As Holtzclaws points out, the status quo doesn’t really stay static. If you don’t control change it leads to risk — and loss.

My tip for facing fear: gratitude. Faith is the slayer of fear. Gratitude is faith in active. Don’t just be thankful to yourself. Let others know you appreciate them and you will discover it is hard to be afraid when focused on others.

Fear is a 4-Letter Word

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