Posts Tagged ‘persistence’

5 Mistakes Made On The Way To Success

Tuesday, March 5th, 2013

One of the things I dislike about the popular media is the way they create the perception of instant success.To err is human and mistakes are part of the equation when striving for success

When they write a story about a business or an entrepreneur they focus on what she or he has achieved. The failures that went before the success get much less time than the ultimate, hard won, success – if they’re mentioned at all.

Are the media doing business owners a dis-service? I think so.

Years ago I saw a great quote (I don’t know who said it) – “The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary.”

I’d like to modify it to read, “The dictionary is not the only place failure comes before success.”

Persistence is important. But when everything that could possibly go wrong does, it’s easy to falter. And faltering becomes easier with every setback that occurs.

We need to know when to quit. But that decision must be based on informed judgement and the advice of those we trust. It’s also not a decision to be made immediately after a failure. (Wikipedia says that James Dyson created 5,127 prototypes before developing the vacuum cleaner he thought was perfect.)

When things go wrong our emotions come into play – and they can be influenced by an article/post about an apparent male/female wonder.

So it’s nice to see a piece that helps restore balance.

There was a blog post in January that recorded the 5 biggest mistakes that, in the author’s opinion, Steve Jobs made. I’d either forgotten, or didn’t know, that:

1.   Jobs lured John Sculley to become CEO of Apple. Sculley had Jobs fired and almost broke the company.

2.   Jobs thought Pixar would be the greatest hardware company ever. Easily overlooked now given Pixar’s huge subsequent success with digitally-animated films like Toy Story.

3.   Few Silicon Valley insiders agreed that NeXT computer was a great success when Apple purchased it. The company struggled from the beginning to understand the right customers and markets for its products.

4.   The (numerous) products that failed – the Apple Lisa; Macintosh TV; the Apple III; and the Power Mac G4 Cube. The iPod, iPhone and iPad were such great successes that it’s easy to overlook the bombs.

5.   Jobs tried to sell Pixar numerous times in the late 1980’s for around $50 million. There were no takers. Just as well. Disney paid $7.4 billion for it in 2006.

There’s no doubt that Steve Jobs was an exceptional man, a visionary. But it’s reassuring to know that he didn’t win every battle he fought. He was human – just like the rest of us!

That will help me the next time I’m having a really bad day. What about you?

Peter Sims, who wrote the blog post, closes by saying that “The antidote is to try a small experiment, one where any potential loss is knowable and affordable.”

Reminds you of the ‘pilot, perfect and scale up’ process we talked about last week doesn’t it?


If you enjoyed this post you’ll also enjoy Persistence and Execution……

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Persistence and Execution…..

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

This is a true story, it did happen.

A few years ago I was on a team that had to cross a river of fast-flowing, freezing cold water without anyone getting hypothermia. And it had to be done in a certain amount of time or there would be unpleasant consequences to face.

One of the team was appointed leader and quickly solicited input from the rest us before announcing his plan. We got to work and, for a while, things went well.

But then it began to look like the plan wasn’t going to deliver the outcome we needed – just as sometimes happens in business. The leader tried to adapt his plan several times and in several different ways. It still wouldn’t work.

By this point we were very short of time.

He continued trying to modify the plan. His team became more demotivated, and distinctly less supportive, as the minutes ticked away. As you’ve no doubt guessed…..

We didn’t make it – and there were unpleasant consequences.

The river crossing was a leadership exercise, part of our officer training program. The leader didn’t graduate. You can argue that it’s not the same as losing a company – or even losing money – but it was pretty traumatic for the guy.

Until then I’d always been taught that persistence was important. However, even though our leader persisted, we weren’t successful. Clearly, there was such a thing as too much persistence.

But how much is too much?

When do you call a halt without, in retrospect, wondering if you quit too soon, a question every business owner has to answer more than once? Like most entrepreneurs we work with, I’ve developed my own guidelines for dealing with the “persistence versus pigheaded” question.

But Rosabeth Moss Kanter’s 12 Guidelines for Deciding When to Persist, When to Quit are really good and very useful.

I particularly like the “interim” measures she proposes – are there signs of progress; has there been concrete achievements; is resistance declining? Nothing happens as quickly as we think – and plan – it will. So it’s important to look for indications that we’re on the right path.

It’s always good to get some fresh insight………….

If you enjoyed this post you’ll also enjoy Bad Strategy – How To Spot It.

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