2 Unexpected Ways Success Leads You Astray
Success teaches you things to continue. Failure teaches you things to change.
You repeat failure when all you do is study success.
Enjoy winning. Learn from failure.
#1. Success for one isn’t success for everyone.
Success for me is living where I hear wind in the trees and rush hour lasts 10 minutes. I enjoy living simply and quietly. Central air in our home is a delightful extravagance for a farm boy from Maine.
I built several pieces of furniture in our home. We’re fans of the Shaker style.
Winning for you might be eating out five nights a week. Success for me is breakfast on the deck with my bride.
Don’t look at the trappings of success and say, “I want that.”
You lose yourself when success seduces you.
Success rule #1: Build your life, not someone else’s.
Tip: Do things that increase your energy.
#2. It’s deadly to focus on success and ignore failure.
We’re in love with success stories. Apple started in a garage. Phil Knight, the creator of NIKE, began on a shoestring. The NIKE swoosh is one of the most valuable logos in the world. It was purchased for $35.00. But we often learn more from failure than success.
Abraham Wald saved lives by studying failure.
During WWII Wald was asked to determine the best place to put armor on airplanes. The idea was to study where airplanes that had returned from battle had the most bullet holes. But Wald knew they needed to put armor in places where returning planes didn’t have bullet holes.
The planes that failed to return had better information than the planes that made it home. Our tendency to over-focus on success is called survivorship bias.
Success rule #2: Study failure as well as success.
Tip: Ask, “What will we do differently next time?
How might success blind leaders?
The Plate-Drop Challenge: How to Respond to Failure
Responsible Mistake-Making: You Suck Before You Shine
There are numerous examples of leaders and CEOs who were very successful in one company but failed at another. When they moved on to a new company which had a different culture, different challenges and opportunities, they kept doing what they had always done.
The first thing leaders need to do is diagnose the current situation. Determine what’s different and unique. Determine what’s needed to improve current operations. It varies in every organization.
“Build your life, not someone else’s.” I’ve been looking for the perfect phrase for a lower back tattoo and that just might be the one. 🙂 Seriously, that’s some rock solid advice. I’m running three businesses right now, and only two of them are my own. I know I need to stop the one that isn’t. Not sure what’s holding me back, but this line just confirms everything I know I need to do. Always appreciate you, Dan.
Hi Dan, I agree there’s more value found for business improvement when looking at failures rather than successes. You can’t improve if you think everything’s great!