Success Can Breed Failure by Hindering Learning
There are several stories populating the annals of business history of enterprises that once dominated their industries but then later jumped to their decline. The reasons are often about staying too close to the existing customers, which is a myopic viewpoint on short-term financial performance and possess an inability to adopt themselves to business models for disruptive innovation. But this does not still explain with proper clarity that why the business leaders that once were able to steer these firms to success pinnacle were able to completely lose their touch.
There is a saying that goes with this scenario – after a certain acquired age we learn more from our failures than from our successes!
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Some may argue with this idea, like in this argument – “the main problem with failure is that it is often the weaker process when put up in comparison with its glorified counterpart, success. When we consider success in the toughest, and longest running most adaptive and innovative process itself, which is of evolution in biology, which is the most advanced system of exchange. Then we reach a very scary truth – failure is not the process that drives all this change and development, it happens to be an accidental by-product. To put it in simpler words, living beings do not learn from their failure. They end up dying from failure and cannot learn from them. They do not even get a chance to pass on their genes. But there is a flaw in this rationale, while many die, some do not and they end up changing their course and get stronger”.
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Success is the key driving force that boosts ego and reaffirms our faith in the existing beliefs. We begin to believe in the fallacy that our actions are the only things responsible for the outcomes. But if we allow failure to seep in, it makes us softer, more humble and grounded. By integrating failures, we can be more powerful and successful.
It is as important to debrief failure, as it is to debrief success, they allow us to learn what worked and what did not. Success is definitely a good teacher, but only for our young years. But later in our lives we need to learn from how to fail, life actually begins to offer a lot of existential loss which may seem a lot like failure, but they actually change and puny losses.
It is often a rare event that we get to identify a process as a true failure, which is of use to us; they are usually an error done by our human parts in decision-making or judgement, which enables us to change our behaviour and thinking. But success on the other hand is responsible for vindicating our performance, and reinforces our beliefs, and while we often take such events as positive ones that inflate our ego and make the outcomes seems as for granted.
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But the point remains that we should not take success for granted. Why? Because failures can whatever you want them to be, and they can be a valuable experience that promotes learning. So, put both to work for you – your confidence and belief in the knowledge that your failures are as important and valuable to your long-term success and well-being, as your successes are for your happiness and fulfilment.
On and ending note:
If the main lesson of a successfully completed project is to do everything the same way as done before, the next time, then you might as well consider the exercise as a failure!