Learning from our mistakes: Why blaming outside forces is counterproductive to running a better business

West Ashe - Learning from our mistakes

Failure is scary. If you were raised in the 80’s and 90’s like I was you may have been part of the generation that was told you could do anything, be anything and achieve whatever you set your mind to. The only thing is, my parents never mentioned what happened when you didn’t meet those goals, or when you did fail. It took me a long time to realize that failing was learning, but the more I learn, the more I realize that is only part of the equation.

In life and business the reality is sometimes we come up short. I know, not the most inspiring way to start a blog post but it is a fact. They say if you have never failed than you have never really tried hard enough at anything. Teachable moments in life typically come from failure, at least far more often than successes. If you listen to any successful entrepreneur tell their story, typically they talk about the times they overcame great adversity to achieve a goal. Failure it seems, is as necessary to success as the air we breathe, but similarly, those same entrepreneurs will tell you the hardest part of starting their business was overcoming the fear of failure.

People deal with fear differently, but more often than not it's easier not to deal with it. To make an excuse and find something or someone to blame. They claim 'my product is not selling because of the other guy' or 'my website is not getting traffic because I am on the wrong platform'. These are all effective ways to make yourself feel better, but doesn't help you move forward or give you the crucial insight into what went wrong. The most productive way to learn from the situation is to take ownership of the failure and look at it face on. You will learn far more by taking a more introspective approach and focusing on the cause, the why of your failure, instead of giving into emotion and dwelling on the fact of the failure itself.

Identifying the behaviors or actions that ultimately lead to the failure allows you to work on them, fix them, practice them, etc. Professional sports teams do this after every game. They review tapes of entire games and break down the plays that went well and the plays they need to work on. This results in an ever changing approach to the way they play the game.  Successful companies do this as well, having monthly or quarterly meetings to review performances, projects, and processes. Doesn’t it make sense as a small business or individual to take a play from their book and approach life the same way?

The only way you will ever be a better person or a better business is to pay attention to what you are doing and by constantly assessing and tweaking your approach. Otherwise, you may be so busy just getting by that you may look up one day and realize the world has changed around you and made you obsolete.