Failure can be a great teaching tool. We see the results of people who have persevered in the face of failure after failure. There’s another type of person that doesn’t get near as much face time in the public eye. It’s the person who is controlled by the failures of their past.
Your past doesn’t exist. It’s no longer real. The power that we let our past have on us is real. At best, your past is a great teaching tool. At worst, it’s a chain that bounds you from forward progress.
Past failure is one of those areas that we try to control even though we can’t go back and change the outcome.
Nowhere was this more evident than in my sales career. We used to joke that sales people were at their best when they were brand new. Have you ever seen a person start their sales career? It really is a beautiful thing. I mean possibility abounds. Sky’s the limit. Cue the song “Ain’t No Stopping Us Now” and that pretty much captures the essence of the situation.
Then reality kicks in for the salesperson. People start giving them objections . They run into someone having a bad day who wants to take it out on them. Now fear kicks in. Before every phone call, they worry that “the customer won’t like the price”, “they will be too busy to meet”, “they will be mad at us for calling them”. The salesperson starts to try and control outcomes based on the past.
The great sales people get hit with this but then learn that every situation is different and they learn what they need to learn and then they move on. The mediocre salesperson fixates on these scenarios and builds a story for themselves on why people won’t buy what they are selling. The sad part is that the primary method of controlling the past for mediocre salespeople is to take their foot off the gas. If they don’t try as hard, then they won’t be rejected as much.
Business owners subliminally let this mindset creep into their thought process as well. You may do this by telling yourself that a piece of advice won’t work because you have tried it in the past. You may also use the line that “it’s always been done this way”. These are the thoughts that keep you from taking action because you have created a story for yourself that taking action is meaningless.
You can’t control what happened yesterday but you can control what you do today. Don’t let past experiences dictate what you do going forward. Learn from the past but don’t allow yourself to be held captive by it. If you have tried something in the past and failed, ask yourself how good you executed it? Could it have been done differently to produce a better outcome?
Are their areas of your business where you are allowing past failure to dictate the future of your business? What action can you take to overcome those bonds? Let today tell the story of your business and leave the past where it belongs.