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So How's That Working For You? Success From History

“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.” Colin Powell, past Secretary of State, 4 Star General

“Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” George Santayana, Philosopher

Every passing day adds to the history of your company, your endeavor, or your professional career. You are adding to history with each passing day.

There is a risk in spending too much time looking backward. The future doesn’t reside there. But, there is merit in taking time to “learn from our history”. Santayana suggests that there is potential for jeopardy if we repeat our history. And, every time we repeat the failures of our past, the price we pay seems to constantly go up and up.

I do think General Powell has the proper perspective though, when he suggests we prepare to compete and then work hard to implement; to compete on the field…of commerce. What I appreciate in Powell’s view is that there can be “learning in the understanding of why we may have fallen short of an objective”.

What is the culture of your company or organization when it comes to understanding the “how” and the “why” of falling short of a goal?

Sometimes things happen that are beyond our control or influence. There can be enormous opportunity for learning and doing better the next time. And, if you are a leader in your organization, making time to review the good, the bad and the ugly can be an important part of developing the talent resident in those people who are growing inside your organization.

I hope the culture is not one of “full speed ahead”; with no time to learn from past efforts and past experience. It just may be that a backward glance shows the way to future successes.


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