Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The F Word and Its Implications

Failure. To me a hateful word. And one that has far too much influence over people. So here’s how I look at it …. if you’re interested, and I hope you are.

You didn’t win an account. You got a bad grade in school. Your relationship ended. Was that “failure” or were you just not successful? I hope you see the difference. In one instance, all hopes are dashed. Your failure meant that you were less than adequate. How can you possibly move on?

On the other hand you didn’t succeed … at one thing. Well no one succeeds at everything, do they? So with that mind set, it’s easy to move on and even easier to feel better about yourself. You didn’t win one account, but you can go on to win another one. You got a bad grade, so you choose to study harder to get a good one.

Wouldn’t it be better to look at “failure” as an opportunity? Let me give you a concrete example. You’ve worked to win a new account. It has been time consuming; you’ve had multiple meetings; you’ve invested in lengthy detailed proposals, renderings, multiple site visits; and you didn’t win the business. Was it a “failure”? The first thing you need to know is “why.” Often times it is because your client had a relationship with another bidder, and that relationship superseded your attempts. It happens often, and it probably happens to your competitors when you have had the long time relationship, right?

There are two possible scenarios. You can bemoan the time and money spent or you can go back to that client and get some useful information. If the client appreciated your efforts and liked your proposal, then you can ask, “What else could we have done to have won your business this time and what else could we do to win it in the future?” That “what else?” question is a mandatory one and might lead to some interesting and informative results. Better yet, if it is a large enterprise, “Who else in your company could you refer me to?” Along with … wait for it….”would you be willing to extend a personal introduction to that person(s)?”

Now take this a step further. Did you really need to invest all of that time and money or was there a point where common sense starting telling you that you were chasing after something you couldn’t catch? And if so, would you have had better results taking that time and money and investing both into more clients with better prospects for you?

So wipe “failure” out of your vocabulary.

And here’s another one: “Try”… what the heck does that word really mean? I had a dear friend once who whenever I asked a question of him would respond, “I’ll try.” I learned that meant “I’ll do nothing.” When I questioned why he used the word, “try,” he said, “If I only try, then I can’t fail.” 

Ah, back to that word again.

I like the Nike approach much better. “Just do it!” How much of a message would they have conveyed if their platform had been, “Just try to do it!”?

What examples can you think of where you thought of “failure” as the outcome? Or how often do you give out the message, “I’ll try,” instead of, “I will”?

Andrea Michaels is the founder and president of Extraordinary Events, a multi-award-winning, international event agency based in Los Angeles. To learn more about EE, visit To contact Andrea, email her at

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