Personal development 2

Making mistakes is Necessary to Succeed!

Who likes making mistakes? If you enjoy making mistakes, then I would be worried! Sometimes in life there are things that we don’t enjoy, but we know that they are good for us. Take growing up and your parents making you eat those vegetables that you hated. Vegetables may have been good for you, but it didn’t stop you hating the taste of some of them!

Mistakes are a bit like those vegetables. You are never going to enjoy them, but you know good can come from them. “Can” is the operative word. If you are going to go through the pain of making a mistake, you want it to ultimately be worthwhile, which it will be, if you learn from that mistake!

When you make a mistake, rather than falling into an emotional state and punishing yourself; to benefit, you need to enter your intelligent state. Initially you may not be ready for your intelligent state, but don’t linger in your emotional state for too longer. The longer that you remain emotional, the more harm that you will potentially do to yourself and less success you may find in both entering your intelligent state and remaining there to critically review and learn from your mistake.

As humans, we are all emotional to varying degrees. In the right context emotions are good, but they can also be our downfall. You should feel negative emotion when you make a mistake, but importantly you need to develop the skill to not linger and move to your intelligent state.

In your intelligent state you can do your critical thinking. Breaking down what went wrong and what can be done better in the future.

Is it a cliché or an excuse to make us feel better when we say that mistakes are necessary to succeed? Does our greatest learning truly come from some of our greatest mistakes and if so, does it mean we should just go around making mistakes all the time?

I have made lots of mistakes, but I made a REALLY big one a few years ago!

I bought a business off a convicted criminal. He wasn’t a petty criminal. As I came to understand, he was born into a life of crime.

As you can image, this wasn’t a quick mistake to get over and then just carry on. The implications of this mistake have been with me for years. It is only with years that I have been able to see how much I have gained from this one mistake. I literally lost millions, but I have become even richer for the experience!

To this day, it would be very easy for me (and tempting) to keep reliving my mistake and wishing I never made it. Don’t get me wrong, I would not want to go through that mistake again, but I have come to realise how much I have benefited.

Before my big mistake, life was all a bit too easy. I was a millionaire, but I wasn’t pushing myself. When I was young, I was very ambitious but with travelling, having children and the untimely death of my father, I focused on quality of life, or at least that is what I thought it was. I didn’t want stress and I didn’t want to work too hard. The problem was I got bored and I wasn’t challenging myself.

Projecting forward to having grandchildren, telling them what I had achieved seemed very underwhelming. I wanted something more exciting, with a challenge! Boy did the universe hear that comment! Was I about to experience an incredibly powerful example of the law of attraction?

Was my due diligence so terrible? Within the limitations of buying a business in my home country, no I didn’t do a terrible job. Numbers are my game. The numbers checked out. The business in that regard performed as expected, until the previous owner attempted to take me down.

In my country at least, unless you are a customer of the business that you are buying, you are unlikely to get to interact with the business to fully appreciate how they operate and what their culture is like. You can’t just bowl into the business and wander around asking questions to get a handle on the team and how they are operating.

The one key mistake that I made was not checking out the history of the former owner back in his home country. Locally there was nothing obvious to easily find, but with some google searching, albeit you need a bit more information to bring up the right results, his criminal record was there on the web.

Call me naïve, but a criminal owning a business of the type I was buying was not on the radar. I come from a small country, where compared to a lot of countries, crime is not at the same level. I never remotely considered that could be an issue. BIG MISTAKE!

What I have learnt as a consequence of the experience goes far beyond checking out the criminal record of a vendor!

If you are familiar with the various adaptations of the SAS TV show where regular people are put through a mini version of the SAS’s selection training, I went through a business version! I got challenges thrown at me on a daily basis. I had to work out who were my allies (there weren’t many) and who were my enemies. I had enemies coming at me on multiple fronts coming. I was pushed to my limit, often wondering how I could carry on, but I did!

Only with successfully completing an exhausting array of tests have I been able to reflect and realise what I achieved and what lessons I had learnt.

Like those that successfully complete selection training for the SAS, you know that what you have withstood few could, what you have learnt few will. General day-to-day issues become trivial when you have survived being pushed to your extreme limits.

When I reflect on the person that I am today versus the person I was prior to my BIG MISTAKE, the difference is significant. I always liked to think that I was mentally tough, but was I really? I always believed that my place in life was to be a leader, but was I really? How well could I really perform under pressure?

Aside from all the business lessons that I learnt; I learnt a lot about myself. I got to answer a lot of questions.

The person I was before, thought a lot of things, but was untested. Now, I am a battle-hardened warrior businessman. My knowledge on business challenges and how to handle them has grown exponentially.

I can talk now with confidence on the importance of culture within a business. Why ensuring that your business aligns with your values is so important. Mind techniques to get you through your darkest days. How to deal with narcissists. The importance of being pragmatic and picking your battles. The challenges of changing an existing business. The realities of the legal system. The importance of leading from the front.  Why you must deal with problematic employees and not look the other way. The list goes on, not least being, what to watch out for when you buy someone else’s business!

Yes, I made a mistake, in fact a VERY BIG mistake, but in doing so, I genuinely learnt so much. I would not know what I know now and be capable of what I am cable of now, if it was not for my BIG MISTAKE.

If you don’t make mistakes, then you are clearly not challenging yourself; you are living within your comfort zone. I have spent plenty of time in my comfort zone and it gets boring!

Consider what you learn when things are going smoothly. You become comfortable, possibly smug. Not a lot of learning is going on. Consider a sports team, or a FORMULA 1 team. If they stay in their comfort zone, do they keep winning, or do they have to take risks? Does the winning ebb away if they don’t push the envelope? With taking risks, mistakes will come. You cannot get it right all the time, but through those mistakes you lean, refine and improve.

For anyone not satisfied with the status quo, wanting to be the best version of themselves, then pushing the barriers is necessary and mistakes are inevitable. So long as you train yourself to move to your intelligent state and learn the lessons that your mistakes offer, then you will grow and you will succeed. You will fail again and again, but those failures will be on a path, with an upward trajectory.

Mistakes are not only necessary; they are unavoidable on a path to success. Do not seek out mistakes, nor enjoy them, but know when they happen, that you have been given an opportunity to learn. Learn your lessons and you will grow. Growth leads to personal fulfilment.