Monday, November 25, 2013

4 Important Steps to Avoid Failure

While temporary failure has its benefits, permanent failure can be devastating. Therefore, it is imperative to be able to learn lessons from temporary set backs and avoid permanent failure. To do that, you have to be clear about what you want to accomplish in your life, have a strategy/plan to achieve it, train and prepare yourself for success, and take effective action. Without those 4 steps, you are
a blind person feeling your way through life with the hope of getting lucky. As Oprah says, “luck is when preparation meets opportunity”.

Before you can prepare, it would be wise to do the following:

  1. Create a vision: In this stage, it is helpful to have time alone. That way you can think about where you are in life, what you have done and where you would like to go. In the initial stages of this step, it is better to ponder these thoughts without input from others. It’s your life or career and you’re ultimately responsible for how it turns out. When you have time alone, it also allows you to develop the appropriate mindset to move your life, career or business to the next level.  Furthermore, in this step, it is not important to figure out how you will do it. In fact, in many cases, trying to figure out how too soon can be discouraging. 

  1. Create a strategy: Once you have your goal in mind, it will be useful to brainstorm with people you trust. Feedback can help you uncover blind spots. And it can enhance your ability to be honest about where you are in relation to the end game. When you do that, you will able to acknowledge the gap between where you are and where you want to be. If you understand what’s missing in the gap, you can prioritize which tasks should be done sooner rather than later. If your vision is big enough, it will stretch you beyond your normal capacity to think and act. As a result, it will require many major steps as well as intermediate efforts to fill the gap. Also, in this phase, you will have to understand resources like time, money, people, materials, etc. How much time will it take to achieve the goal? How much money will it take? What kinds of people possess the skills and competencies to complement yours? What materials are needed? How will you organize and allocate those resources? What are the intermediate goals you have to accomplish to fulfill the vision? Why is this goal relevant? Who are the stakeholders? How will you include them when developing plans?  

  1. Training and development: If you view yourself as equivalent to a professional athlete, you understand no athlete makes it the championship without preparation, training and constant practice. Your life, business or career is no different. At this stage, you will have to develop yourself. Whether you learn in a formal institution, with a coach or on your own, this step is critical to avoid being unprepared.

  1. Action: Here is where you transform a plan into reality. However, actions are most effective when done in time. Set milestones for when tasks are to be completed. If you keep your vision in mind, it will be easier to take focused actions without being mired in busy work. Moreover, it is important to understand the outcomes you are seeking with each action and how its completion contributes to the end game.

Above all, be prepared to require more time and money than you anticipated. Use each day and hour to advance yourself and others. At the same time, periodically take a step back to examine if your goal is still relevant to your stakeholders in the form you envisioned. If it isn’t, you may have to alter the strategy. In the worst case, abandon the goal. Either way, you can assess what you learned and decide which direction to take next.

As you work through each step, you will see, in most cases, your vision is constant, your strategy will be altered, training never ends and your action is the key that holds it all together.  

What do you think? I’m open to ideas. Or if you want to write me about a specific topic, let me know. 

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