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Failure evokes a number of emotions – anxiety, insecurity, discouragement, fear. No one ever sets out to fail and yet this becomes a very real possibility in our quest to live life to the fullest – either our business life or personal life. Failure can be an outcome any time we take a risk or make a decision. The chances can be minimized, and even when we are not successful, we can learn valuable lessons. Consider these questions when taking a risk or making a decision.

Am I being objective?
Failure can happen if you are so caught up in the excitement about an opportunity that you miss seeing potential obstacles. To be really objective, you need to consider the pros and cons. Do a reality test on the pros and have a plan for addressing the cons. No good idea is without some obstacles, but obstacles can lead you in the wrong direction if you don’t have a plan for dealing with them. Don’t let your enthusiasm for an opportunity get in the way of being objective. Go into every opportunity with your eyes wide open.

failure and decision making

Am I making fact-based decisions?
Too often we can get caught up in the decision-making process. We demand so much information or consider so many options, that we get weighed down with all the possibilities. Conversely, we can let our gut overrule our mind. Our gut tells us something is a really good idea, and it blocks our mind from considering the facts. The trick is to know how much information is enough so that your head and your gut are in sync. Fact-based decisions will minimize risks and will more likely lead to success.

Am I making timely decisions?
There’s a saying that “to not decide is to decide”. Putting off a decision is not a recipe for success. It can mean lost opportunity or give an advantage to your competition. Sometimes, in the business world, failure hinges on the time spent making a decision. You need to ask yourself the following questions: How much time should I spend making this decision? Should I move fast and trust my intuition? Or should I move slowly, so I can be thorough? Whatever path is right for the situation – be decisive!


Am I learning from my decisions – both the good ones and the bad ones?

In one of my previous posts, I discussed the importance of having daily meetings with oneself. Some aspects of these meetings should focus on failures. In order to learn from your mistakes and improve your next opportunity, you need to ask yourself, “What did I do wrong?” or “What could I have done differently?” These conversations aren’t about regretting, but rather, learning from them.

When you’re young, failure can be traumatic. But with age and wisdom, you accept failure as part of growth. If you avoid risks you’ll fail at the bigger picture, especially when running a business. It requires a delicate balancing act of being both objective and timely, all while trusting your instincts. While the fear of failure can be overwhelming, the potential for success makes a little risk well worth it.