It's the second step that counts

Last week I posted about the 10 symptoms of a failing retail business. (Symptoms are not the same as the reasons of course.) It is a bit negative to leave at that, so a post about success is in order.

Let’s first do a thought experiment. Think about any failure you have had before. (Business or personal – it does not matter.) Take a moment and articulate that failure in your mind and think about it. (Play along, don’t read ahead.) Just think about the failure – and admit to yourself that you have failed.

Now, replay these thoughts in your mind. When you thought about that failure, did you also think about why it happened? The reason for the failure?

I bet you did.

If the reasons for failure are complex, then it is also simplistic and naive to come up with a ‘magical’ 7-step process to fix it. So I won’t.

I will get you started though. And the first steps are the hardest, so it should be useful.

We all know from the movies that when you go to AA, the alcoholic has to start with an admission of failure:

Hi, my name is So_and_So and I am an alcoholic.”

The thing that you do after that admission is the key to success. But that is step 2. You can’t skip step 1. You have to admit it. You have to accept it. You have to say it; firstly to yourself, and then maybe even publicly.

The cure will be executed in public, and you can’t do that if you are pretending that everything is sweet.

Step 2 is what comes next, and this where people start the failure (or success). The alcoholic goes home and has a drink. The failing retailer sits down and justifies their failure.

This is human nature, and this is also the root of failure. As soon as you admit that you have made a mistake, you come up with a reason why it happened. This is very subtle and it just happens.

The reason is always something or someone else. And this immediately lifts the psychological burden – but also raises a barrier to success.

By identifying (an external) reason for failure, you disown the problem.

So the key to success is to take a few steps/ decisions that will not allow you to explain or justify anything.

Failure is only failure if you continue to fail. If you fix it, it is not failure, but a challenge you overcame.

So what can be done to ensure we take step 2 - and not think about the reasons for failure?

Don’t do research. Don’t ask anyone else’s opinion. Don’t do anything (not even thinking) except do something about remedying the situation immediately.

Simply take an action, any action – even the ‘wrong’ action – and you are on the way to solving the problem.

I can tell you from experience that you will very quickly build a momentum of solving problems and the ‘failure’ can be relabelled a ‘bump in the road’.

If you have taken step 1 and step 2, and they are both right, step 3 becomes so much easier.

  1. Admit it.
  2. Do something – anything.

You’re on your way.

BTW: In the previous issue of RTLL, the notion of success is explores at length (with videos, images etc.)  This is strictly for subscribers only, but I will make an exception this time. If you promise to subscribe (at the bottom of the newsletter), then you can GO HERE. I cover success from a business and a marketing and a personal angle – allow some time to read it.