Failure Aftermath

Part 2 of a 2-part blog on failure.

So, you’ve failed. You’re looking at the fallout associated with that and trying to decide how to move forward. Obvisouly there will be a great deal of headache associated with the aftermath, but this is where all the good stuff lies. All the mistakes you made, bad decisions, wrong turns, and overectensions are all incredible learning opportunies.

Remember when we talked about After Action Reports (AAR’s)? This is where these come in VERY handily. Take the time to sit and reflect upon the failure, figure out what went wrong and where it went wrong and write it down. Make sure to denote what led to the failure and set up rules to not make the same mistake again.

These failures are what usually drive people to success. That can only happen if we take this failure and use it as a springboard. So how do we do that? First, we have to look at the problem as a whole, dissect it, and understand where we can learn. Here are the four steps to use failure to your advantage.

1 | Understand Everyone Fails.

That’s right, everyone — even the people you admire most. The most successful people you’ve ever known have failed many more times than they were successful. That’s just the way it is. People can relate to failure, and the support that can come from it is incredible. Make sure not to hide your failure or be embarrassed. Instead, be vulnerable and ask for help. This grounding or exercise in humility will attract people from all walks of life to help you!

2 | Dig deep inside yourself and be BRUTALLY HONEST

One of my C-level team members has a signature in his email that says “Enjoy the Journey.” This simple line embodies this journey we call life. Through this journey, there ups and downs, wins and losses, successes and failures. However, the positives never create learning experiences. You only really learn when you fail and have to deal with the consequences.

These new understandings can lead us to new opportunities. One real-life example for me was during my time at Kill Cliff, I was the operations director. Part of my responsibilities was to develop and manage the website. During the launch of our new site, I didn’t check to make sure that the shipping codes (digital codes that transfer which shipping the customer selects to the fulfillment center) transferred properly. At the time of the launch, we also ran a huge promotion in celebration. This cause about 150 orders to come through overnight all of which had NEXT DAY AIR MORNING delivery, the most expensive possible, even though the customer had chosen ground. This was about a $65,000 mistake on my end which could have legitimately crumbled the whole company had UPS not worked with us to reduce the amount significantly.

This is the part that we all don’t like to admit. In the example above, I could have blamed it on the fact that the launch wasn’t actually scheduled for that night. Or that I didn’t change the codes and so it wasn’t my fault. Or whatever excuse I could tell myself to feel better.

Instead, I went to the CEO, Todd, now one of my mentors, and said “I think I made a huge mistake. I didn’t check the shipping codes and we have a $64,000 shipping bill for one night.” After the initial knee-jerk reactions, we could then begin to figure out how to solve the problem. I knew that it was my fault, I took responsibility and was honest in that mistake.

Without this step, we risk the chance of doing the same thing over and over. If we do that, we will continue to make the same mistakes.

3 | Refine your process!

Afte we’re honeest with ourseelves that it is indeed our actions that lead to this failure, we can begin to move forward. This is where the real learning comes from. The key though is not to put your head down and feel sorry for yourself. Take full responsibility for the mistake and do everything you can to eliminate it moving forward. Similar to the way that though exercise our body gets stronger, by overcoming failures and learning from them, we begin to understand new ways to attack old problems.

After a MASSIVE amount of embarrassment and a fairly stern “talking to,” the lesson I learned here is to always, always, always test your developments. And now, to this day, any time I change a website, set up a new email, run a new spreadsheet, etc. I test it at least three times to make sure it’s working properly.

4 | Create A New Plan of Attack and GO, DO & GROW!

Now that you’ve accepted that failure is a part of life, you’ve gotten brutally honest with yourself, and you have refined the process, it’s now time to create a new plan! This is where the few peope that made it through the first three steps get lost. We don’t make the necessary changes to prevent ourselves from making the same mistake again. We all know this as the definition of insanity.

Take this learning with you for the rest of your life. Sure, you will make a similar mistake in the future. Don’t get discouraged by this. Keep driving forward. Figure out what went wrong, being very honest about it, plan around those mistakes and keep moving forward.