Avoiding and Learning from Failure

Here are some tips on avoiding and learning from failure.

In a December 2012 Business Insider article about Laurence Weinzimmer's book, "The Wisdom of Failure," the author outlines the six most important lessons to learn from failure. We used Weinzimmer's advice and added our own to create a list of ways to avoid failure in a career in business.

Find a focus. Stick to it. Establish targets and work toward achieving relevant goals. If you are creating a manufacturing business that makes pipes, that does not also mean that your workers should be plumbers.

Be in it for the long haul. Don't go beyond the core of your business to make money quickly. Stick with what you initially planned and see how it plays out. If it is necessary to expand or create new product lines to fill a need, do so after careful consideration.

Evolve your work style. Whether you are promoted or find that the way you manage your own time and your employees' time is not working out, learn from that. Change your time-management methods and don't be afraid to simply. Whether that means cleaning your desk, shutting off the email notifications that interrupt your thoughts or even firing employees who are not adding to the company. Delegate tasks that are better suited for someone else. 

Pay attention, but not too much. Be conscious of what is happening in your industry, but don't spend all your time trying to one-up the competition. Pay attention to what is succeeding and failing with others and learn from their mistakes, but keep your main focus on your own business and professional life.

Know when to quit. If you are emotionally or financially invested in something it can be very difficult to walk away and admit defeat. If your business or position are no longer what you are looking for or it's not contributing to your professional growth and wellbeing, it is ok to cut ties and move on. 

Take responsibility. Don't blame others for your mistakes. Owning up to your faults and correcting them is much more productive than alienating others with misplaced blame.

According to the Harvard Business Review, failure is not always bad. Mistakes often lead to better-developed plans and more successful undertakings.

This article is sponsored by Western Governors University, a nonprofit, accredited, online university. WGU offers online bachelor degree programs in business and online MBA programs. To find out more, please visit www.wgu.edu/wisecareers_business

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