Failure is Part of Becoming Successful

Failure is part of life. Everyone fails. Failure is often perceived as bad but often includes good. How does one fight through failure instead of letting it destroy? The answer is perspective. Those that have a positive perspective use failure as an experience to do better and become better. Some things business owners have taught me over the years.

  • Startup businesses have a high mortality rate. As long as you try your hardest, are honest, and deal with problems honorably you will likely get a second chance to restart. –Or (as an employee) keep going through troubling times because maintaining composure and integrity in the face of great challenge is a valuable personal characteristic. 
  • Experience to make good decisions is earned and gathered most quickly when things are not going well. Working hard and respecting relationships are often the best tools to resolve issues.
  • Failure keeps you grounded and is a reality check. It helps one become centered emotionally where success does not go to one’s head or failure to the heart.  
  • Making small mistakes may be a good strategy to take risk and evolve over time into a more prosperous person. “Fall forward fast” is a term I learned many years ago as I entered the workforce as a salesperson. The meaning of the phrase is to put yourself out into the market and try different methods of interacting with people to drive results (make sales). Gaining experience in what will not work is really valuable, especially at the beginning of things, so that one may develop the maturity and confidence to get things done.
  • Great stories come from failure. Stories of hardship catch peoples’ attention and bring them together because struggle is universal where everyone can relate.

Measuring and Reporting Outcomes to Produce Results

Tribes may reinforce trust with their respective community by communicating benefit through outcomes. An outcome is a result reached following action and may be reported annually to measure performance from year to year. Consistent measurement and reporting allows leadership and management to agree upon goals for an organization while the community is clear on the benefit they receive from the government and/or tribally owned enterprises. Outcome Examples:

  • Number of jobs created and retained
  • Dollars paid to fishermen
  • Acres of land acquired by tribe
  • Scholarship dollars awarded and total number of tribal members in college

A cross-organization understanding of results produced from operations is likely to promote positive alignment between stakeholders (community, leadership, management and staff). Alignment allows all to collaborate which means everyone understands their role and responsibility for action. Examples: Leadership is able to support management by approving operational plans produced by management and better equipped to answer community member questions. Management is enabled to produce plans that outline objectives necessary to achieve goals. Goals are prioritized by the outcomes the community and leadership express as most important. Employees better understand how their daily activities drive a business or government program to achieve results. The Community understands the benefits they receive and better able to show support because of access to information. Better information also provides an opportunity to share concern and identify areas of improvement.

Keys to Success:

  • All stakeholders view the same information so confusion is minimized and meaningful discussion may take place about issues that matter most.
  • There needs to be someone who is the keeper of the information so that reporting is consistent. This person may also reiterate the vision. 
  • Stakeholders agree on teamwork to encourage transparency and face tough problems by reinforcing trust so that problems are defined and fixed in a reasonable amount of time.

Goals vs. Objectives

Goals and objectives help someone accomplish what they set out to do by clarifying the purpose of activities and steps necessary to achieve.  Goals and objectives help management and employees coordinate effort to drive toward a shared purpose.  Goals and objectives align many moving parts in a community to combine resources and obtain whatever result they seek.  Goals and objectives are often used interchangeably and sometimes confused as the same thing -they are not.    

Figuratively, goals and objectives fit together like a stairway and a second floor. Goals are the second floor, a destination.  Objectives are the staircase, steps necessary to get to the destination.

Goal timelines are longer term in nature and less structured than objectives. Goals may not be defined because they forge into new territory which may be an unknown place.  Goals are a desired result.  Sample: “I want to be more flexible. I want to understand more about history. I want to perform better. We should own our growth strategy.”

Objectives are clearly outlined with defined timelines that may be short term or mid-term.  Results are measured and may be answered with a yes or a no.  Objectives describe steps necessary to achieve a result.  Sample: “I want to increase sales by 10%. I want to lower my debt by $250 per month. Over the next six months we will invest into projects with a minimum ROI of 25%.”