Owning Your Failures

No one likes to fail. It’s a result we are trained to avoid. It feels like we are tested all the time from an early age and someone, it seems, is there scoring our results.

Seth Godin, marketing guru, wrote in his blog recently:

"You’re Right, We Were Wrong"

by Seth Godin

This is the most difficult sentence for companies that stumble in doing effective customer service.

By effective, I mean customer service that pays for itself, that is a rational expense on the way to building a loyal brand following and generating positive word of mouth.

When someone in your organization says, "You’re right, we were wrong," they’re not saying that you’re always wrong, or that you were completely wrong, or even that, in a court of law with a sympathetic jury, you would lose. It certainly doesn’t mean you didn’t try.

No, all you’re saying is that you made a promise or set an expectation and then failed to live up to it.

Owning that and saying it out loud does two things: it respects the customer and it allows you to make more promises in the future.

If it helps, you can remind yourself that this is investment in your ability to make a promise tomorrow.

This reminded me of a meeting I was in recently at work where I was trying to get a project completed in a short time-frame. I confidently suggest we could complete the project in a month. After some input from the attendees I sat and thought to myself, "you know, they are right, there’s too much red tape to get through and too many people to get buyoff from." I spoke up and said "I’ve thought about this and your right, I’m wrong. It’s not going to happen as fast as I’d hope." The whole meeting took a different tone from then on. People started to talk about how we could get it done faster than they thought, yet not as fast as I wanted. By owning my failed opinion, it gave people permission to look for solutions because they knew even if they came up with bad suggestion, it would be ok because failure of thought wasn’t going to be belittled.

As I go through what they call the "mid-life crisis" over the past few years, I try to take life’s lessons and find a spiritual connection.

For many people in the world they look at God and fear His judgment. I guess from one perspective we are living a test of life and if we pass the test on to heaven, if we fail, on to hell.

I don’t look at judgment day that way.

By owning my failures I am taking ownership of me. At the end of your life, you can either be remembered for your failures or remembered for your successes. I think by owning your failures you will move beyond them and people will see you for what you did right in this world.

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Filed under All Posts, Humanity, Personal

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