Mistakes - part 8: Do you know why you failed?

By Sameer Kamboj, SKC World

We can either cope with life or participate in it. Those who are coping usually do not scale up, and start looking out for contentment and satisfaction primarily outside their work, seeking external solace, early retirement, sabbaticals, etc. Those who enthusiastically participate are able to harness the abundance that life offers. They fall and grow with the ongoing rhythm of life – at all times, life is an act of destruction and creation resulting in abundance. It is a continuous motion of change that never results in permanent death.

While preaching is easy, implementing this approach requires commitment and often “sweating it out”. Just one worry creeps in, and even the wisest may lose their equilibrium and start projecting doomsday. Just one hurt can be enough to create disbelief; just one reprimand can be enough to trigger rejection or revenge. Dealing with failure is one of the toughest things that humans have to face. The inability to deal with failure is a mistake that has caused the most brilliant among us to lose track of their inspired endeavours. This is one of the most common and deadly mistakes of all.

Experiencing failure is important

Once a vision is formed, the key to actualising it lies in its implementation. Remember, if you are entitled to make mistakes, then your people are entitled to make mistakes as well. If situations and circumstances can overwhelm you and your plans, then these same factors may overwhelm others also. If you have never faced a defeat or a failure, this may be a good time to start experiencing it. This is true for your people as well. Some of your people may be brilliant and privileged to have succeeded so far in whatever they put their minds to – or so they think. This may be a good time for them to experience failure.

It is how you deal with failure that gets you to your destination. Humans are programmed to experience rejection with feelings of despondence and timidity, making us feel small and inadequate; these feelings are often ignited the moment we face failure. And when we don’t face failure, we often worry about its potential, and remain anxious and stressed thinking about it. I call all of this a mistake. And mistakes can be rectified.

Identifying the reasons for, and overcoming, your failure

Think about and mull over the following points to better understand and rectify your mistakes. Remember the answers lie with yourself alone.

  1. Feeling overly responsible when things go wrong

    When you feel strongly responsible for things that go wrong, being plagued by self-doubt and low selfworth can be both a cause as well as a consequence of this. People often deflect these feelings by blaming others or external factors and situations. This is an easy approach to make in order to live with oneself – it is always easier to blame others, and diffcult to look inwards. Looking inwards does not imply merely the aspect of knowing where we have been wrong, it also teaches us how to handle the emotions we experience as a result of our failures.

  2. Feeling lonely amongst a group of mediocre people

    Looking at the people around us, many of us feel we are surrounded by mediocrity. This is the top reason cited for most failures. The question to ask when tempted with this attitude is, “Why did you decide to sail to a destination through rough seas when you knew your people were mediocre?”

    Whenever you feel lonely in a sea of people, wondering who should you talk to because you think other people are not as intelligent as you are, you must understand and examine your inner inability to deal with your own failure.

  3.  Not reaching out for help in time or at all

    Most people have a habit of not reaching out at all or not reaching out in time for assistance from others. I still recall an instance where a particular gentleman came to me for advice on his new joint venture which he intended to sign with an Italian company. After discussion and deliberation, he went away from our conversation saying he understood what he needed to do. In a month’s time, I received a call from him, urgently asking me to meet him in Milan. When I asked the reason and for more details about his situation, he explained the terms that he had agreed to with the Italian company, and to my surprise, they were exactly the opposite of what I thought he had understood as an outcome of our earlier meeting.

    Undermined by fear, he made an impulsive decision to take a completely opposite approach to what was recommended, and his fear compelled him to agree to terms that would ruin the project. Now he needed me to come to Italy to help him rectify the situation and try to mend the damage. It was already too late. He lived with that mistake for the next 14 years he was involved in that venture. He knew his personality was driven by fear and impulse decision making – if only he had reached out to me sooner!

  4. Overestimating your people and yourself

    Most failures are caused when people overestimate themselves and their team members. An inability to deal with failures is often a direct result of overestimation as well. When we just can’t see a situation objectively, we end up blaming the situation and other people, and don’t consider our own role and abilities or lack thereof. Our initial overestimation about our own abilities, our staff members’ abilities, about markets, the number of favourable responses from customers, etc., becomes the cause of many failures. Later we are unable to cope with the failure because it seems impossible to reconcile the negative outcome with our initial overly generous self-confidence.

  5. Making too many assumptions

    When plans are created on Excel spreadsheets and on PowerPoint presentations, they often sound nice. Actual execution makes people realise that the smooth looking road is in reality like the lunar surface – full of craters. Common assumptions such as: people will join us when we need them; people will deliver because they are hired and paid; we will be able to motivate them; customers will like our product; the market will understand our marketing campaigns as well as we understand them; people will pay for our product; our machines will actually deliver; suppliers will supply on time; we will produce the right quantity with the right quality; the weather will support our activity; people do not tire; people remain disciplined, etc., are amongst the countless overly optimistic assumptions we make while making our plans.

  6. Not having any faith in grace

    While having faith and confidence in ourselves is imperative for success, along with the intelligence, efforts and hard work we invest into our projects and lives, the fact remains that without grace we may not achieve the desired outcomes. No one can invoke grace as their right, yet it is available in abundance to everyone as long as our conduct within ourselves and towards others remains graceful. When you do something with the correct intent, you are bound to have grace by your side, and slowly each failure will lead you to an even bigger success.

This was the 8th of 10 mistakes an entrepreneur should avoid while scaling up!


Sameer Kamboj

Sameer Kamboj

GCG member firm
SKC World
Advisory, Auditing & Accounting, Tax
New Delhi, India
T: +91 11 41324 619
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Published: GGI Insider, No. 119, May 2022 l Photo: deagreez - stock.adobe.com

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