One of the common denominators of successful people is
their ability to persevere when things don't go as planned.
Effective people don't allow themselves to get bogged down
in feelings that don't serve their purpose.
On the other hand, ineffective, unsuccessful
people allow their emotions to rule rather than their
rational and objective nature. They lament what happened or
what didn't and become victims rather than masters of their
We all have disappointments. We all suffer
setbacks. If we're going to attempt anything worthwhile,
we're going to experience failure. The mature—and ultimately
successful person—sees failure as part of success. When one
method fails, they try again with a new one. Sometimes it
takes many attempts.
In my coaching/consulting work, I see all
too often the tendency to fix blame instead of fix problems.
Rather than looking at challenges rationally and
objectively, emotions are allowed to dictate the process.
They're unable to make corrections without
invalidation. Something goes wrong and they want to blame.
Profit isn't reached fast enough and someone needs to be
fired. There's never a shortage of people or things on which
to blame the failure.
I suggest a different approach. It's a
process I call, "What Worked, What Didn't, What's Next?"
This practice works whether you're dealing
with a business, a relationship, a project or your life. The
key is to evaluate often, objectively, and then to move on.
And the more often and impartially you
measure and evaluate, the better it works. It's just
feedback—and feedback is neither positive nor negative. It's
simply information. I call feedback the "Breakfast of
Champions". Looking at what happened with a healthy degree
of detachment allows us to make better decisions.
What actions moved us toward our objective? What's worth
repeating? What felt good? What created excellence?
Acknowledge your successes. If it's a big
one, celebrate it. Praise your own as well as the efforts of
When you focus on what worked, you begin
with positive energy. And you create momentum toward
Ok, where did we screw up? What created the mistake? Not WHO
dropped the ball, but when, where and how did we drop it?
How can we avoid it next time?
It's rarely PEOPLE who mess up but rather
systems that don't adequately support them. Most people mean
well and try their best. The focus should be on how to
better support one another to reduce errors and increase
There are many ways to accomplish what you
desire. Often, in finding NEW ways, we create things we
never would have if the first or second effort had
Acknowledge the mistakes, make new plans and
devise new strategies.
Regardless of how well or how badly things went, IT'S
HISTORY. Nothing is going to change the past. Being upset
about it, feeling guilty, placing blame—or even resting too
long on our laurels will cause us to lose headway.
One might be wise to use the US Marine Corp
acronym, FIDO—Forget It, Drive On. But I would add one more
piece; learn from the experience.
After you analyze what happened, the
question should be, "What's next?" This takes the focus off
from what's happened and places it on where we're going and
what needs doing.
You can quickly go through this process
alone or with a group. It can take a few moments or several
hours depending on the complexity of the project.
The key is to do it with impartiality and
objectivity. Mistakes, corrections and new attempts are
merely part of successful ventures. They don't mean
anything, they're simply opportunities to create excellence.