I know many business coaches, gurus, positive psychology people will want you to believe that there is no such thing as failure. In fact we hear phrases like “there’s no such thing as failure, only feedback” Or “Fail Forward”. However you and I both know that failure exists and it is very close. Many many people; client’s, would be clients’, colleagues, acquaintances will often tell me that they have “ failed”. They will say it with all anguish, agonizing for days over the failed plan; the fail event; the failed sale; the failed clients; the failed launch; the failed assessment; the failed parent; I’VE FAILED they cry. You know what I am talking about – that sense in the pit of your stomach, that deep cavernous hole that threatens to engulf you. Where the tears, anguish threaten to consume you – where the darkness is so overwhelming it’s terrifying to even go there. We avoid it at all costs – we cannot fail. We just CANNOT fail.
I am not immune to thinking – OMG I’ve failed. Woe is me, I hopeless. I’m useless . Why would any one want to work with me? I kid you not. These thoughts swim through my mind too. Frequently. Because just like you, my biggest fear is you finding out I’m not good enough! We can dress it up in lots of ways, but deep down we are scared of not being good enough and that someone will find out and call us out on this.
So, how do we know we have failed? Now this is a tremendous question. What’s incredible about this question is that when I ask – ok so you’ve failed, how do you know? This is met with a response like:
- I didn’t get the report done in the right time frame
- I didn’t make the sale
- No one wants to buy my online program
- I’ve been asked to write a supplementary report
- The client’ didn’t go back to work
- My client withdrew from therapy
What’s so interesting about this, is that when I ask – Okay so your criteria for success is
- All reports completed 100% of the time in the time frames
- All prospective customers I have conversation with will result in a firm sale
- I must sell my online program to be successful
- I am a success if I am not asked to write supplementary reports
- I am a success when all my client’s go back to work 100% of the time
- I am a success when all of my client’s stay in therapy for the duration I set out and never choose to leave of their own volition.
These same people will say to me – wait hang on no. That’s not my definition of success. In fact most of those criteria Jo are downright impossible. I would never expect anyone to do that. Well, isn’t this just plain interesting? I agree those statements above are ridiculous success definition statements. However they are the converse of the failure statements. So, my question to you is – if you are sure you have failed, how on earth do you know? You can only know that you’ve failed when you have failed to meet a stated expectation. And if you have never stated your criteria of success then how do you know that you have failed? You actually can’t. The only way you can know you have failed is if
- you fail to meet set criteria that you have set
- you fail to meet the set criteria of others.
My challenge to you is this – write your criteria of success. Define it. Come up with the 10 things you know must occur in your business for you to know you are successful. These will serve to guide you as you make decisions in your business. They will also help you to think less like a clinician and more like a business owner. Now some of you will find it easier to write the ‘10 things I will never do or accept in my business’. That’s a great way to start – and this is where I started when I first did this exercise. However once you have your 10 criteria if they are written in the negative you must change them to the positive and they MUST be written as if they have already occurred.
This is an activity that everyone one of my client’s must complete. They must set their criteria for success, otherwise how on earth do we know what we are measuring ourselves against. And, because I know you (because I was once just like you) I know we have incredibly unrealistic expectations of ourselves because of where we have come from in the clinical decision making continuum.
Get your list started! Want to know if you are on the right track, then leave your comments in the comments section below. This is an incredibly empowering exercise and if you are serious about wanting to be a successful business owner more than a great clinician then you will want the results that come with doing this exercise.
If you have recognized that you may be struggling with this question, know you’re not alone. I know you because I have been you. Let me help you. Feel free to take advantage of a FREE 30 minute consult where I can help you make sense of your criteria for success. To claim this FREE consult, click here
Here’s to your success
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P.P.S. Health Professionals deserve the lifestyle and freedom that comes with being successful business owners. These are skills you can learn!