Boy, if there’s one thing we don’t like to think about, much less speak of aloud, it’s failure. Nothing strikes fear into the hearts of ambitious and outgoing agents like the ‘F’ word.
As much as it pains us to think of it, failure is an inevitable part of life. Even the world’s greatest successes have failed before succeeding: There are few overnight successes.
So, learning from failure becomes an important element in our journey. What can we salvage from a failed interaction or transaction that will make us better agents in the future?
- Don’t play the blame game.Regardless of who did or didn’t do something, it’s rarely, if ever, productive to blame colleagues. In fact, the fear of negative blaming often keeps co-workers from admitting screw-ups. But, studies by the Harvard Business Review have shown that work cultures that make it safe to admit mistakes and failures often also have high performance standards. Be open to listening when someone admits their failures and by working on solutions together, you can become more productive.
- Don’t fear experimentation.We are often told not to reinvent the wheels and certainly, there’s much to be said for using tried and true sales techniques, but innovation can be the tool that sets us apart from the competition. However, experimentation frequently doesn’t work perfectly the first time we try it. These might be called ‘intelligent failures.’ But, like the old adage goes, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” Don’t be discouraged; rather, use trial and error to perfect your system.
- Do analyze failures. To succeed in the future, it’s vital to review what went wrong in the past. Most of us are programmed to favor evidence that supports what we want to believe but to progress, we must take a hard look at why things go wrong. This is one of the least fun parts of failing, for doing this may be a blow to the ego. One of the keys to learning from failure is to not take it personally: This is the stage of failure most crucial for learning and getting better at our business.
- Do move on.What’s done is done, and there’s no point in dwelling in the past and beating yourself up. While it’s good to analyze the whys of failure so you don’t make similar mistakes again, no good comes from continuing with negative thinking. Conduct your analysis, figure out what you’ll do differently and then, don’t look back.
The great inventor and entrepreneur Thomas Edison reportedly attempted to the electric light bulb 1,000 times before becoming successful. Of the attempts, he said, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.’
You don’t have to be an Edison-like genius to keep pushing after failure.
Here’s another postdedicated to learning from failure.