Over the years I interviewed many entrepreneurs and leaders about the successes that they have achieved to try and get a clear understanding of what were the keys to their success.

More often than not the answers I received involved the use of the words I, me, we and sometimes of course, but not often, the word luck.

Interestingly when you turn the question around and ask about any previous failures they may have endured and what were the reasons for those, you get a completely different perspective. 

Here are some of the most common reasons for failure.

  • The timing of wasn't correct
  • Our suppliers failed to keep up with the demand
  • Our bank pulled the plug on the business 
  • Our competitors undercut us
  • The customer didn't understand our offering
  • The demand for the product just dried up
  • Product quality issues
  • Wrong location
  • Wrong business model
  • Bad luck

Interestingly no use of words I, Me or We.

When we are successful, we see ourselves as critical to the success, that our involvement, our contribution, our brilliant idea or our persistence was key to the outcome.

Yet when failure calls, it's a completely different story. It's because of timing, it's because of circumstance, it's because of others, or it's because of misfortune.

It's like the saying goes  "Success has many fathers, but failure is an Orphan". 

While you can learn a lot from failure, you can learn even more if you accept your part in it.  Accepting your part in the failure actually empowers you. It allows you to review your approach, and change those parts that didn't work.

When you blame others or bad luck for failure, it can take away your opportunity to fix it, as nothing you did was wrong.  Which can mean, unfortunately, that you will try again using the same approach, and will probably experience the same negative outcome.

The best way to deal with failure is to

  • Accept your part in it
  • Learn from it
  • Adapt your approach and try again

And if you're in a leadership position, accepting your part in it rather than blaming others will increase your popularity and connections with your teams.