“Never let success go to your head nor failure go to your heart.”
-- Margaret Belle Houston, 1917
Accordence has just passed its 10th anniversary in business. We have much to celebrate and will do so in a variety of ways throughout 2015. While we look back at all of the growth and results we have created in a decade, we also want to consider what didn’t go well that motivated us and continues to push us to greater heights. By focusing on success only at all costs, we might set ourselves up for greater failure by reducing our tolerance for taking risks, find lessons, grow and innovate. Instead, we will follow the long list of business people, inventors, politicians, artists, and athletes who espouse the “failure is necessary” mantra such as Henry Ford, R.H. Macy, Soichiro Honda, Bill Gates, Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton, Thomas Edison, Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln, Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg, Sidney Poitier, J.K. Rowling, Theodore Geisel (Dr. Seuss), Elvis Presley, and Michael Jordan. Each in their own ways continued to promote themselves, their ideas, and their products to larger success after experiencing negative feedback, rejection, ineffective product trials, and other disappointments.
During this year, we will celebrate our anniversary by reviewing our original vision, how we have enacted it over the years through our efforts and collaborative partnerships, and what we have learned along the way. Throughout this time, we have had our “touchdown dances.” At other moments, we have taken a good hard look at what didn’t work. Here are some of the lessons we take from our successes and failures:
When you have a vision, go for it.
Grande and I wanted to focus on the specific needs of corporations and building skills that were not typically taught through traditional academic means. Using our decade’s long experience in course design and delivery in other organizations, we developed and refined programs in the areas of negotiation, conflict resolution and influence to enhance the ability at all levels to collaborate and achieve good outcomes.
People are as important a resource as content.
We knew we needed to practice what we preached in our programs of focusing on relationships and substance to achieve our vision. We couldn’t go it alone. Much of our success comes from working with our networks while developing new connections every day with sales channels, clients, facilitators, and administrative personnel that help us promote our methodology.
Practice, preparation and persistence make for excellence.
With every facilitator that joins our cadre, employee that comes on board to our organization, or program launch or refinement that we implement, we know that initial preparation, continued practice, and persistence leads to consistent positive results. While we wish we were able to hit a home run every single time, we acknowledge that we are human and therefore fallible, and sometimes we need to go back to the drawing board for the next improved iteration. As Babe Ruth was known to say given his record 714 home runs but 1330 strikeouts, “Every strike brings me closer to the next home run.”
Accountability brings humility and stronger relationships.
When we do fall off the horse, we look holistically at the situation to discover what part we played, what feedback we have for others in the situation and what objective viewpoints we can bring in. It is difficult to work with people who can only sing their own praises and not acknowledge their faults. Being able to admit and take ownership of when we have participated in less-than-stellar results sets better expectations for demonstrating partnership capability and authenticity.
Taking risks outside of comfort or expertise zones expands opportunities.
We could have spent years with a laser focus on one area of content such as negotiation from our foundational work at CMI, and with one audience such as sales since they traditionally have large training budgets. However, over our ten years, we gradually expanded our offerings based on client needs, industry trends, and recognition of the desire for our own growth and learning in new areas of expertise. We wanted to avoid being labeled a “dinosaur” or getting lost in an over-saturated market. Because of the risks we took to bring expanded programs to new audiences and industries, we have brought moments of clarity and insight, a single learning point that has stuck day in and out, or one tool or practice that forever impacts someone’s ability to perform well in the workplace. We won’t fully know the extent of the impact we have had and yet we feel gratitude for the opportunity to continue to share the necessary skills for thriving in ever-challenging work environments. What more could a company focused on enhancing every interaction want?
Here’s to years more of lessons and wishing our readers their own reflections on successes and failures. Share what you learn!