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December 19, 2011
Are Success And Failure Twins?


We avoid mistakes. We avoid situations where we might commit a mistake. Everyone seems to be engaging themselves in maintaining the track record. We are tuned to learn by mistakes that others make. But to err is not wrong; not making an attempt that might cause mistakes is surely one on the wrong path.

Success always occurs in private, and failure in full view.
-- Anon

Failures and mistakes are not that bad as we are made to believe. Don't be afraid of making mistakes and facing failures. Failure is one of the paths that leads to success. When Thomas Edison failed at least a thousand times to create a light bulb, he said that he learnt thousand ways, which did not work. Life is a great learning process and mistakes and failures teach you what success doesn't.

Perhaps most important, it means designing ways to measure performance that balance accountability with the freedom to make mistakes. People may fear failure, but they fear the consequences of it even more. "The performance culture really is in deep conflict with the learning culture," says Paul J. H. Schoemaker, CEO of consulting firm Decision Strategies International Inc. "It's an unusual executive who can balance these."

People often say nothing succeeds like success. But what they fail to understand is that 'nothing fails like success' either. When you suffer with the 'success syndrome', you start believing that whatever you touch will become gold. No such alchemy exists in the real world.

Designers, inventors, and scientists, all models for companies struggling to be more creative try to prove themselves wrong. That focus on potential flaws makes failure, and the lessons that come with it, happen earlier. Amy Edmondson, a professor at Harvard Business School who has studied how organizations learn from failure, says managers would do well to think more like scientists. "Failure provides more 'learning' in a strictly logical or technical sense" than success, she says. "It's a principle of the scientific method that you can only disconfirm, never confirm, a hypothesis."

When you become successful, you must sit down and ponder, because if you have not understood the real cause of triumph, it will not come to you next time. As there are certain causes of failures, there are also certain causes and factors that make you a winner. If you don't analyse what you have accomplished and the factors that led to it, next time you may fail if those factors are absent. So you conduct a 'defect prevention cause analysis of success' after each windfall.

Success and failures are twin sisters. You can't marry them together. You may get partial success and partial failure but you can't get 'success-failure.' But nothing prevents you from respecting both, one for achievements, and the other for leading you to achievement. The biggest mistake of all is to avoid situations in which you might make a mistake! Watch Your Ladder...is it leaning against the right wall?


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