It seems ludicrous to think that failure is a good thing. It’s painful. Sometimes humiliating. Often embarrassing. It’s also humbling and a wonderful chance to take a step back and gain an understanding of what went wrong. And to learn from that experience. If we can be self-observant enough to realize that we participated in the failure and then take the time to review where, how, when and why things went wrong, it’s possible to actually learn enough so that we don’t make that mistake again.
Think of the client who doesn’t implement the advice they’ve paid you for. Documents aren’t signed, investments aren’t made, insurance protection isn’t acquired. Is it smart to just blame the client? “Well, she was a jerk, anyway.” Or, “I don’t really need them as a client, there are plenty more.” Maybe the mistake was on me. Maybe I didn’t listen well. Didn’t ask enough questions. Didn’t really dig deep enough into what the wanted and who they were and where they were coming from. Maybe I rushed them, pushed to hard. Maybe my advice was just dead wrong.
Introspection and honesty are essential elements for self-improvement. Figure it out and you’ll grow. Blame others and you’ll stay in the rut of all clients being idiots. Looking back on your career path, take stock of all the places where things didn’t go your way. When were you deepest in the valley of despair? This is the place for the biggest leap, the greatest improvement. Failure is painful enough to keep you from wanting to do it again.
I’m not suggesting you fail on purpose. But when you fail, take the time to understand what really happened and then do your best not to repeat that behavior again. It’s a challenge.