Failure is success if we learn from it --Malcolm Forbes
Often it takes many failures before there is success. Keep on keeping on…though success may not come to you in the form that was originally envisioned, if you persevere, there is a chance that success is on the other side of any failure—don’t be afraid to fail forward.
Two examples of failing forward:
Vera Wang failed to make the 1968 US Olympic figure-skating team. Then she became an editor at Vogue, but was passed over for the editor-in-chief position. So she began designing wedding gowns at age 40 and today she is one of the world’s premier designers.
As a child, Albert Einstein was labeled with a learning disorder. Einstein's communication and behavioral problems were not indicative of a lack of intelligence and he persisted through his disability. He went on to win the Nobel Prize in physics for the discovery of the photoelectric effect, and his theory of relativity corrected the deficiencies of Newtonian physics.
Many of us want instant success and we are not willing to flex through the difficulties. We are in an era where everyone gets a trophy and where our over righteousness gets in our way. If nobody fails, then nobody wins and if nobody flexes to the possibilities there may be no wins and no successes.
In leadership, many believe that being a leader is easy and that getting people to follow is even easier. I don't care what colleges or universities teach on leadership; you don't learn how to be a leader in school. You learn it on the job by making mistakes and learning what works and what doesn't. Success starts with perseverance through the tough times, accepting other’s perceptions, being vulnerable and having an ability to flex to a new plan when things don’t go as planned. A successful strategic planning process has an ongoing analysis of what's working and what isn't.
However, in a society where entitlement and rectitude prevails, self-efficacy wanes and success becomes an insurmountable challenge of us against them. What could be learned from any failure instead becomes a missed opportunity of new knowledge and often a game of blame. The external locus of control thought process takes over…
Locus of Control
Control, a word we fundamentally understand and know it as a necessary for success, yet we are often challenged when putting control into action. Control can be defined as the power to influence or direct the behavior of others or the course of events.
Locus a word we may not be as familiar with is defined as a position, point or place. Hence, Locus of Control determines the environment of how we view our control… it may be internal or external.
Internal vs. External Locus of Control
People who base their success or failure on their own doing and feel they are in control of their life’s outcomes have an internal locus of control. In contrast, people who attribute their success or failure to outside influences have an external locus of control. In other words, how do you manage your accountability?
A simple example would be catching a cold. One’s view may be I got that cold because of environmental factors that everyone around me is sick (external) or alternatively you may feel that you caught a cold because you have not been exercising regularly and/or not getting enough sleep (internal). Generally speaking, we naturally lean one way or the other. However, if you lean too much towards external locus of control, you may not take enough accountability for the outcome and too much towards internal locus of control may not allow others to have accountability when they clearly own it.
What does this have to do with keep on keeping on and persevering through the difficult times? An understanding of how you manage accountability and your influence of the outcomes will help you to keep on keeping on. If you are stuck in “it’s not my fault” mode, chances are you will not learn from the experience and your excuses will get in the way. If you are stuck in “I don’t need anyone, I can do it all myself” mode, chances are your growth will be stunted…"if you want to go fast go alone, if you want to go far, go with others” --African proverb
Next time something doesn’t go right…don’t give up. If you tend to be a person of external locus of control, flex a bit to your internal locus of control voice. Take accountability and learn from your mistakes and keep moving forward. If you tend to be a person of internal locus of control, flex a bit and ask for help, heed the guidance and keep moving forward.
Be flexible and open to learning, know when to be accountable and maintain a heartfelt passion in everything you do….AND keep on keeping on….the gift of success awaits you!
“The leader of the past was a person who knew how to tell. The leader of the future will be a person who knows how to ask.” --Peter F. Drucker
My personal lesson--
Driving into work it was pouring rain and once again I was going to be late— I knew I should have given myself more time, but I didn’t. Hence, Los Angeles traffic was even slower than the usual slow allowing me to take in the environment around me. I passed a tent city and noticed that poking up from various tents were American flags. I can only assume that these are flags of the forgotten vets. At the same time, the inaugural speech was on the radio…and I realized, these folks, no matter how hard they may have it, still flex to the possibility that our great nation will remember them…their belief in this amazing country keeps them keeping on. There was a great lesson for me to learn here. It made me ponder, have I been leaning too much on external locus of control—reasons of why I don’t have time to give back to my community in a meaningful way. I really have no excuse to not get out there and make a difference and do something meaningful that would help our forgotten Vets….I own this lack of accountability.
AND that scene made me realize that real success comes from the heart and its time I take accountability and create success……
“Life is going to give you just what you put into it. Put your whole heart in everything you do” --Maya Angelou