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How Do You Define Success?

Embracing and Learning from Our Failures Can Lead to Success

Embracing and Learning from Our Failures Can Lead to Success

Richard Millson (richard.millson@millson. net) owns Millson Technologies, in Vancouver, British Columbia.

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

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.”
–Michael Jordan