Idea's space

This blog is dedicaded to share ideas coming randomly from my experiences

Posts Tagged ‘failure

Career : Never Be Scared To Take a Decision

leave a comment »

Mandela-winRecently, I read a post from a freelance on my LinkedIn wall, meeting a friend he had not seen since a while, and who told him his misfortune. Talking about their professional status, the friend told him that he lost his job. We was working for a start up, but unfortunately, as many of them, the start up felt in bankruptcy and the employees lost their job. The guy felt completely ashamed to be jobless, especially since he left a position in a multinational company, to go work for this start up. In his eyes, he felt guilty to have made a bad decision.

This story made me think about my own professional journey, and a similar experience I have lived. In the 90’s, I was working for an international company as senior accountant. The workload was intense but it was an interesting opportunity to learn a lot and to make significant progress in term of skills and competences development. But after few years, it was difficult to maintain a good work-life balance in such rhythm, and my motivation was declining. I was very tired, and not too far to fall on burnout. At that time, I was in contact with the CFO of a company that was a customer of a previous company where I worked at the beginning of my career. This company moved from IT hardware resales to a software development activity, and so move to a star up mode. The CFO let me know that he would need some help to ensure the development of the company, and need a profile like mine to join the financial department. Nevertheless, he caught my attention to the fact that the project was not yet profitable and that the risk of failure was high, an so a unsecure job. Despite this, and the fact that I was not moving to get a better salary than the one I had, I did not hesitate to resign from my current job, and to sign a contract with this start up.

In the start up market, the rate of success is around 10%, and unfortunately, the start up I worked for never joined the 10%. After 2 years and 6 months, the company was declared in bankruptcy, and I was jobless, as all my colleagues. This failure was not a big surprise, even if I would prefer to live another scenario.

When such things happen, some people around you would tell you that you probably took a wrong decision, and maybe it can be the first feeling you have. Personally, I have not that feeling and it made me think about Nelson Mandela quote – “I never lose. Either I win or I learn”. The decision I took to leave the multinational company was a well thought out decision. My motivation was declining, and burn out was certainly not an option.  Furthermore, job security was already no more a certitude end of the 90’s.

Joining a start up was a change of environment. They needed the competences I acquired in multinational companies and such environment was an opportunity for me to perceive more intensively the finality and the added value of my work. I discovered the advantage and disadvantage of the start up and small companies business, but I discovered also a motivation to work in such environment, developed new skills and competences making emerge new passions and opportunities. Such changes are definitively a wealth, in a fast changing economic environment where job security does not exist anymore.  During my career where I worked in several companies, I noticed that your current job is and has to be the opportunity to prepare the next one. If you do not learn anything, if you don’t face new challenges, then the danger of not being competitive anymore is not far.  You cannot find job security anymore but you can build your career security by learning on an ongoing way.

Being unemployed for several months was not a shame for me. I was looking for jobs offers and making contacts with temp agencies, but the time after the dotcom crash was difficult. If I had felt ashamed to be unemployed, it would mean that losing my job was my fault. Such view would still make sense if job security still existed. But today, even if you are doing a good job and showing a good attitude, there is no guarantee to keep your job indefinitely.

To answer to the question if you take the right decision, you never know in advance if it will be the case. But asking that question means that you are looking to the past, not to the future.  By looking to the past, you will not be focused on what you can learn and discover from your new journey, and it means also that you have no project to feed your motivation and to reach success. Success does not mean that you will never failed, it is the capacity to cross over failure and to learn from it. Sir Winston Churchill did not say anything else: “Success is not final, failure is not fatal, it is the courage to continue that counts”.

Failure is indeed not fatal, it is only a view of mind. Failure is not fatal if we keep in mind the eventuality of it and if we develop alternative plan in order to build resilience. Never facing failure does not mean necessarily that you meet success, you could never meet failure because your lack of ambition. And lack of ambition is not a successful attitude.

Our life can only be successful by taking decisions. Decisions and actions are the keys driving our life, helping us to build self-confidence and to open new doors, to move to new horizons.  When I look to my journey, the only thought I have to my mind is this: Never regrets to take a decision, a good or a bad one, only regret to have not taken one.

Advertisements

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

March 14, 2018 at 19:11

The way to success…failure?

leave a comment »

Failure-foundation-of-success-1024x723Success is something most of us we are looking for. If to be successful is something different for each of us, the definition of the success is to reach the goals we have defined.  Success is seen positively, and appeared as something that intelligent people reach without any constraints. Does it mean that other people cannot be successful?  The question is what we name success.

To succeed is first a question of power and courage. The courage to make that our dreams become true. But often, some people never realize their dreams because they are scared to fail, and that failure is considered as a tabou. Commonly, failure is considered like something you are guilty for. This feeling of guilt comes probably from our education system based on rewarding and sanction. When a student answers wrongly to a question, he will be penalized. The education system is based on a competition system where students are scared to do not reach the arrival line. It is obvious that the integration of knowledge needs to be evaluated to be sure that students have the necessary tools to face life, but the learning process is an ongoing and iterative process. Each of us, we need more or less time to learn something, to understand the complexity linked to something, and finally to succeed. We probably remember something we struggled with at school, and that we find now very easy, wondering how it was possible to struggle with such thing. For instance, with mathematics, by doing exercises and repeating a logical process linked to a theorem, we understand it and finally integrate it. Before to succeed in a process, we probably failed a lot of times, but failure is an opportunity to know what goes wrong, to analyze the reason of the failure, and to take an appropriate action to move to the success. Henry Ford was saying that “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” Such statement should be integrated in the education programs. In companies like Google, people are encouraged to fail. If you remember, some great inventions are the result of another project that failed. For example, the Post-It was invented accidentally. The company 3M was developing a new king of strong glue. The obtained result was the opposite of the one wanted, but this accident was used as an opportunity.

Failure or more precisely the reason of failure is important to develop and to keep our critical mind. When we are succeeding, we are just enjoying our success, and attributing this success to a range of factors. There are no absolute certitudes about these success factors, but there is nothing that put the opposite in evidence. For instance, scientists describe processes based on experimentations and observations, write a theory that is valid until there is an event that makes that this theory is not valid, or need to be updated and include some exception cases.  Success is not definitive. But what appears as a failure is something that brings you matter to learn, or to discover new things, bringing information, a useful raw material to move forward in the knowledge.

Successes or failures are not final destination, but different steps of a process, of our life.  By paying attention to this, by using failure as a raw material to build our knowledge, we are empowering our self confidence and are able to face new challenges.  By considering failure in a positive way, as an opportunity to learn, we take our belief off that creates psychological obstacles, preventing us to reach our goals. Remember that the real failure is to do not try. Some people never failed because they never try something.

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

July 15, 2013 at 18:17

What if I fail?

with 4 comments

In my previous article, I was talking about an entrepreneur I met recently who was building her first project as entrepreneur. We talked about the fact that the entrepreneurship is always a risk, and that the chances to succeed and to fail exist. The possibility to fail is probably a important reason making that some people don’t want to take the risk of entrepreneurship.

As Peter Drucker said, to become an entrepreneur, you don’t need an entrepreneur character, but character only. A character able to face risk, looking for change, and seeing change as an opportunity. But the ability to face risk is not enough, you have to manage it too. When you start a project presenting risks, have always an alternative plan, and measure the level of risk you will not go over. These two conditions will make that you will take more easily risks and be able to take appropriate actions if you don’t succeed.

The character is not only a condition making that people are scared to become entrepreneur. Failure is ofter considered as negative by people around you, and failing people have a guilty feeling. Failure has to be seen as a fact and something you can learn from. Such experience is not useless for many reasons:

  • By launching your own activity, you will have to do a lot of things and to manage things you were not used to manage. You will develop skills and maybe discover hidden talents. This talents and skills are open doors to new opportunities,
  • In an entrepreneurship project, you meet people to take advices, to contract specific expertise. You will meet new environments, you build a network, with people who bring you advice, and maybe new ideas. These new ideas or advice you acquired are feeding your knowledge and experience. You will can use them for other projects, or in other contexts.
  • By analyzing the reason of your failure, you will identify your mistakes, and to develop alternative solutions or scenarios. Such analyze make that you will be ready to restart other projects on a more appropriate way, without repeating the same mistakes,
  • Your experience of failure can make that you could be a valuable partner for future projects, build with other partners. Expertise is most of the time acquired by experience,and failure is a part of experience and contributes to bring added value,

By having this in mind, failure doesn’t mean that you are back to the start point. You are just on an new start point, with more skills, more experience, making that failure is probably not an absolute necessity, but an experience you can use as a raw material to build new and stronger projects. By do not deciding to take the risk to launch your own project, you will not fail but you will not succeed too. Remember this quote I don’t remember the author: “There is no such thing as a failed entrepreneur. You are a failed entrepreneur only when you quit. Until then, you’re simply not successful yet.”

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

January 11, 2012 at 21:35

An entrepreneur, an optimistic person?

leave a comment »

Philippe Gabilliet, professor in a MBA school and auteur of "L'éloge de l'optimisme"

The year 2011 is over, and traditionally, the new year is the time to build new projects, new resolutions. Nevertheless, if you red of heard to the news, it is not a secret that 2012 will probably be a difficult year (one more you will say), particularly in the euro zone. Some countries are already in economical recession. Such times are concerns for people, who are wondering if they will keep their job and will be able to pay the bills at month end. The entrepreneurs are concerned also by the crisis and the negative impact on their business, are facing lack of visibility, making the decision-making difficult. What can they do to face such difficulties? The entrepreneurs who have long term views know that they will face difficult times in their life, and are prepared to such situation. The only thing they have to do also is to stay optimistic. Really? You probably think that it sounds like a joke. What the fact to be optimistic can solve in such situation? Let us talk about this.

Few weeks ago, I was reading a book about the optimism, written by Philippe Gabilliet, a professor in a French MBA school. I can only recommend to everybody and not only entrepreneur , or people having a entrepreneur mind, to read this book. Here, I would like to talk more specifically about entrepreneurs, who seem to be by definition optimistic persons. Indeed, to become entrepreneur is always a risk. The success an entrepreneur can meet is proportional to the risk of failure he can meet too. Does it mean that he is not aware about the risk he can meet, by deciding to start a risky business? Let us consider that most of the time, he is aware of the risk, if he prepared seriously his project, and was well advised by mentors. By being aware about the risk, for which reason is he still motivated to build a project of business? This is a good point, and to explain this, we have to mention a distinction that professor Galilliet makes in his book.

We have to consider two kind of optimism, or pessimism. The is the optimism or pessimism of way, and the optimism and pessimism of goal. Each person can present these two characteristics.

  • The one who is an optimistic of way and an optimistic of goal is probably the one who is not conscious about the reality. His thoughts are “We will succeed and it will be easy.”
  • The one who is a pessimistic of way and pessimistic of goal, is the most negative person of the four we can define here. He thinks that “It will be difficult, and finally, we will not succeed”. Such person has not to become an entrepreneur. He has the certitude to fail.
  • The one who is a optimistic of way and a pessimistic of goal. For professor Gabilliet, this is the most strange attitude we can find. Such person thinks that “We will probably not succeed , but he will have learned something”. Interesting, but does such person believe to the pursued goal, or does he favor his own interests?
  • The one who is a pessimistic of way and an optimistic of goal, is probably the most conscious of the difficulties. He is convinced that “We will succeed, but it will be not easy at all”.

The pessimistic of way and optimistic of goal is certainly the most prepared person to the entrepreneurs life. He is aware about the difficulties he will face. Despite the fact that he is an optimistic of goal, he is yet aware that he could fail too. The question is how can he still stay motivated, in front of a potentiality to fail? The optimistic is somebody who can use the failure as a raw material to learn something and to develop other alternatives, strategies, to reach the goal he assigned to himself. Failure is an element that will feed his knowledge base and that will give him the resources to anticipate. I was speaking recently with an entrepreneur who was building her first project. She was aware about the potentiality to fail, but she told me that such experience is an opportunity to meet people, and to learn a lot of things you can use for other future projects. An optimistic will consider the positive side of things and to use it to move forward.

In my mind, entrepreneurs are optimistic persons. There are persons who believe to that famous quote “We didn’t know it was impossible, so we did it”. To become an entrepreneur is always a risk, and if they were no optimistic persons like entrepreneurs, most of the inventions around us would not exist. If you move 30 years back, and that we told you the future inventions that would exist today, a lot of people would consider you as crazy. But optimistic entrepreneurs who probably met failures in their life, realized these inventions, like the web, the solar airplane “Solar Impulse”, etc..

As conclusion, I would say that even if times are difficult, you can always move forward with your creativity and your optimism, two key components who will gain more and more value in the future.

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

January 7, 2012 at 18:21