Nothing Fails Like Success

Learning from success and failure Becoming successful takes a lot of hard work, determination and knowledge. It’s assumed that once you become successful you’ll be able to coast along. But success requires a never-ending quest for improvement. If you don’t focus on your personal development the best case scenario is that you continue with your stagnant success and never realize your full potential and in the worst case scenario success will actually lead to your failure.

Economist Kenneth Boulding once said, “Nothing fails like success because we don’t learn from it. We learn only from failure.” While that may be true of most people, the most successful people know that there are lessons to be learned from every situation.

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I once heard a story about a coffee house that became very popular in my local community. They had exceptional coffee, a great variety of snacks and well trained baristas. The owner worked at the store to keep a close eye on things and warmly greeted their regular customers. The business kept growing and the company struggled to keep up. They hired several new staff members to keep up with the demand, installed new, faster coffee makers and started buying their snacks instead of making them in house.

They now had the capacity to serve more customers but soon started to see their business drop. When the owner eventually questioned some of his regular customers they complained that their coffee tasted different, their favorite snacks weren’t available and that the customer service just wasn’t the same with the newer staff. But, by then, most of their regular customers had stopped coming in. The owner had borrowed money to buy the new equipment and when faced with declining sales was forced to sell the business at a loss.

The company had become so busy and popular that they forgot what they did to get so popular and consequently went out of business.

Not all stories are as dramatic but we must remember to learn from both our failures and our successes. My surgical practice is extremely busy but there is always room for improvement. My staff and I regularly review our waiting times, patient satisfaction and operating procedures to see if there is any room for improvement.

Use the following 5 ways to ensure that you are constantly seeking to improve yourself and your business.

5 ways to Focus on Never Ending Improvement in Work and Life

1) Look for ways to improve service and efficiency constantly.

  • Ask your customers, coworkers and friends for feedback.
  • Observe your competitors and people you want to emulate.
  • Take time to periodically step back and take a new look at your behaviors and procedures.

2) Consult with your team because none of us is as smart as all of us

  • Hold regular team meetings.
  • Have a suggestion box.
  • Reward innovative thinking.

3) Be constantly learning, reading and listening

  • Commit to reading a personal development book at least once a month.
  • Keep up with your industry publications.
  • Discuss strategies and plans with peers and trusted advisors.

4) Create goals that stretch you and make you just a little uncomfortable

  • Make goals that involve facing your fears.
  • Schedule your hardest and least liked tasks for first thing in the morning. so you can get them out of the way.

5) Do what it takes to keep your level of energy and vitality optimized.

  • Take good care of yourself because as a leader you are one of the most important assets in your company.
  • Take time to rejuvenate and recharge yourself so you can sustain the energy needed to run your business.

Remember that both failure and success provide learning opportunities and room for improvement. What are some of the lessons that success has taught you?

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