In Part 1 of this (very short) series, we looked at the drivel written about “failure,” suggesting everyone but the Zuckerbergs of the world can safely ignore it (and not to feel bad about it, because the Zuckerbergs of the world already tune out such nonsense).
Today’s topic does, however, apply to the masses. It springs from the false conclusion that some hack bloggers/journalists make that failure and “mistakes” are one and the same thing. Let’s go to the ultimate business source, American Express’s “OPEN Forum” for some real-life examples.
From a blog post titled, “Top 5 Mistakes Small Businesses Make,” look at these beauties:
- Spending too much or too little money
- Ignoring the Internet or social media
- Forgetting the customer comes first
Here are a couple from another, “4 Mistakes That Can Cripple Your Business”:
- Spending too much on business products and services
- Proceeding without a plan
(An aside: does any actual business owner click on an over-the-top headline like that one?)
And some more gems from “Groundhog Day: Ten Mistakes That Small Businesses Make Over And Over”:
- Lack of focus on what your business does
- Hiring the wrong people
Really? These are “mistakes”? Really?!?
An example of a mistake would be deciding to read any of those three posts to completion. These aren't mistakes. We have gone beyond, into the realm of “wrong.” Lack of focus on your business? Or your customers? Not having a plan?
These are all errors – errors of judgment, errors of attention, of experience, of self-awareness, of measurement. They will guide you, or your employees, to do things wrong...or do the wrong things.
And that is the “failure” you should be concerned about.
But don’t expect to read about on the OPEN Forum, or anywhere else. Because simple advice to “just stop" doing these things won't help. Unless you address these issues early in employees’ careers, they will just plod on, doing wrong and being wrong.