Let’s embrace failure

I had a few drinks with an old friend the other night and we were sharing notes about the impact of the recession as I had not seen her in quite a while. What was amazing to me was that she had known back in 2008 that by June 09 she would have to take real care with her cashflow and knew exactly which accounts would deliver and which ones were more wobbly. I asked her how she had been able to so accurately plot the future profile of their sales pipeline.

She explained to me all the lessons she had learned on her first venture which was not a success and how that had taught her that she had to stay in sales as without sales the team would not eat as they were the lifeblood of the company. In the UK we so often forget to embrace failure as an amazing lesson that can create a very successful future business. Anyone struggling in this recession or who has faced failure can be sure that the lessons learnt are invaluable. My friend’s story of the “phoenix”, her second business rising from the ashes of her first business venture clearly show that we should embrace the lessons learnt from failure and not beat ourselves up over it. She also explained that many of her initial employees were still with the company which helps to explain her success and recognised that she needed to clone herself to bring in the required increase in sales so that the business would work without her.

My friend had been able to weather the storm quite well and despite having to close one of their offices overseas was convinced we had turned the corner and business was looking up.

As the MD my friend was used to wearing many hats but had now sectioned off her week so that she would restrict discussions on other topics to specific time slots which disciplined her team to make those times very productive and not to distract her from bringing in the big accounts. She also stopped herself from answering all emails when they came in and put them in her action box so they did not distract her from what she set out to achieve each day. I was very impressed with this focus and her vision and realised that this is what defines real leaders. She talked about how she was anxious to get her company to the next stage of growth from the 35+ employees they currently had.

We ended our meeting discussing the merits of online social networks and time needed to keep up with them and whether coaches can help us to focus on our strengths and achieve our big hairy goals. More on that topic in future blogs….do share any lessons you have learned from failure … we would love to hear from you.

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