One of the key elements of failure is a self defeating behavior more than any external event. We feel uneasy about trying something new and succeeding. We are self-loathing and fear our own guilt for success. In business or personal we will do anything to climb back into that place where we not only feel comfortable but deserving.
Originally published in Entrepreneur
Think of the last time you failed—what was your first reaction? Perhaps you felt embarrassed or upset. Maybe you wanted to downplay the failure or blame others. Science tells us that such biases and knee-jerk reactions can impede our ability to learn from our mistakes.
Unless you live under a rock, you’ve probably heard about the train wreck that is Dov Charney, former CEO of American Apparel. Charney was recently ousted from the company he founded out of his college dorm room. For years, his sexually inappropriate behavior was the company’s worst-kept secret. He would wander the office in his underwear. He admitted to sexual relationships with female employees as young as 18. And, starting in 2011, he faced multiple sexual harassment lawsuits. At one point, he even acknowledged that he had a problem.
Many wondered why Charney hadn’t been fired sooner. I think there’s a more intriguing question: Why on earth didn’t Charney wise up and change his behavior? The writing was clearly on the wall. He just couldn’t — or wouldn’t — read it. In fact, like a bad ex-boyfriend who can’t take a hint, he’s still trying to get the company to hire him back! Talk about not learning from failure.
So, the next time you fail, have your own FailCon. Ask, What went wrong? What factors did I not take into account? What assumptions was I making that turned out to be incorrect? What could I have done differently?
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