Embracing and Learning from Our
Failures Can Lead to Success
For veterans like me, the CEDIA EXPO
provides an opportunity to connect with
old friends, explore the latest product offerings,
and take advantage of training
and educational classes.
I also use my time at the annual
convention to try to get a real “on-theground”
feeling for the current health
of our industry. Over the last couple of
years I have noticed is that change, sometimes
radical and gut wrenching, is now
both commonplace and likely to be with
us for a while.
For the first time, we as an industry
are experiencing “failure” in one form or
another. Many of us have witnessed these
realities firsthand, including the failure to
control costs, failure to grow revenues,
failure to increase market share, failure to
innovate quickly enough and in some cases, failure to even survive.
Some may think of these experiences as embarrassing, saddening, catastrophic,
or even career ending. I disagree. While I deeply empathize with
those folks who have been hit hardest by the events of the past couple
of years, I want to present the idea that failure does not have to mean
the end, but can also be experienced as the opportunity to begin again. I
believe that you can learn more from failure than you can from success.
Think about it; when we fail at something, we are forced to stop and examine
why we failed and even more importantly, what specifically went
wrong. This is an incredible learning opportunity if you choose to view it
in that way. Conversely, when we enjoy prolonged success with little to
challenge us, there is a natural tendency to believe that everything we are
doing is working well, even when it’s not. The simple fact is that failure
forces us to face reality.
“Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, only this time more wisely.”
Henry Ford is considered to be one of the most successful businessmen of
modern times, and justifiably so. But the truth is that just like all of us, he
had numerous failures along the path to that success. The difference for
Ford, and so many other famous success stories, was that they chose to see
their failures as learning opportunities and start again, more determined
than ever, armed with the knowledge that only those failures could provide.
I want to challenge our industry to do the same thing.
There is no doubt that our industry has faced more new challenges and
experienced greater setbacks over the last couple of years than at any time
in the last 20. Unfortunately that trend not only will continue, but it likely
will escalate further.
The global financial recovery is taking longer than expected, and our
industry faces entirely new kinds of challenges. These challenges include
everything from free-falling margins to the requirement for entirely new
skill sets, to the undeniable impact of products and services from vendors
outside our industry redefining our clients’ expectations of technology (ex.
Apple, Skype, Google).
There is little doubt that all of this will lead to even more failures on the
part of ESCs trying to cope with this accelerated change model.
Now is the time for all of us, individually and collectively, to acknowledge
that we have failed in the past and we will fail again. But that does
not mean that we should give up. We need to learn from the mistakes and
failures of our past and even celebrate them as valuable lessons along the
path toward our mutual success.
Ten years from now, our industry will look very different than it does
today but it will be those companies that continue to fail, learn, and keep
going that will stand the best chance of success. If you don’t buy the fact
that continual failure is the surest
road to success, just ask this guy:
“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots
in my career. I’ve lost almost 300
games. Twenty-six times I’ve been
trusted to take the game winning
shot and missed. I’ve failed over and
over and over again in my life. And
that is why I succeed.”