Learning from Failure
This picture was sent to me last week from a client whose home I had recently organized. We worked on most of the house organizing closets on the main floor and their basement. including the laundry area. The hall closet, where I started, was where I originally found the leaf blower. This is not where you should store the leaf blower, FYI. I moved it downstairs with the other yard maintenance tools.
A week later I returned and found it had migrated again to the laundry area of the basement, just a few steps away from its assigned home. While organizing the laundry area and removing items that didn’t belong there, I gently took it back to its assigned spot with his other yard tool family.
Last week, my client sent me the above picture and was exasperated that the leaf blower had landed on the kitchen counter. Right next to the stove. Like it was a pot to cook in! Why, oh why could it still not be returned to its proper location?! Argh!
Some of you may find this story familiar. Maybe you keep your hedge clippers next to your dishwasher? I suspect even more of you can relate to the banging of your head on the wall in frustration over not being able to get a problem solved. That’s how I felt. It seemed like all of my hard work was wasted on a solution that couldn’t be followed.
So how are you supposed to deal with failure, disappointment, un-realized goals and expectations? First off, realize that it’s not all about you nor is it a reflection of you, your talents (or lack thereof), or career choices. Sometimes, things just don’t work out and it’s not all your fault.
Now, you’ve got to use this opportunity to learn from this failure and see how you can make it a positive experience. There may be mistakes you made along the way that you can change and make your product or approach better. What we perceive as a failure may just be a misperception or lack of clear communication (refer to Communication Expert and fellow TSC contributor, Laura Camacho for more insight there) and, again, have nothing to do with you. Sometimes all of the hard work is just work. Sometimes the reward comes much later and after more failure.
What it does signify is the perfect time to learn, adjust, and continue forward. Just because you trip on a root on your afternoon walk doesn’t mean you stop walking. Nor does it mean that walking is stupid and so are you for doing it. Rather, you tell yourself “look out for roots and other things I might trip on so I don’t trip again and fall on my face.”
It’s the same with business. You may have a marketing idea that fails to gather the interest you thought it would or your last partnership wasn’t so rosy. It’s not a sign that you’re in the wrong business. It’s just a sign that something didn’t work according to how you planned it or thought it would.
In my case with this example, the errant leaf blower’s assigned home wasn’t the problem. Rather, it was probably due to my lack of communication with the primary user of said item, my client’s husband. She said he had a habit of dumping things in random places (sound familiar?) and I hadn’t talked with him about when he used the leaf blower or how often or what did he typically do afterward. I didn’t do enough investigating into how he used it so I didn’t assign a home that made sense to him. I did what I thought was logical and maybe it wasn’t for him. Or maybe he’s just lazy and will never put it back. Either way, my client and I got a nice chuckle and a “SMH” text back to one another and life goes on.
My advice to her was to put the leaf blower in bed where he normally sleeps (a la The Godfather) and see if that doesn’t get him to put it back where it goes. I’ll keep you posted on how that approach worked.;-) Until then, shake off that disappointment and keep marching!