South African business coach Karl Smith has written about the seven steps to starting over after failure. He makes a valuable point that nothing great succeeded the first time. Failure is part of the process. And I agree with him that the best thing you can do post-failure is be proactive about moving forward.
His recovery programme is common sense advice:
- Accept responsibility for your own failure. Own It. It's yours. That's the first step to regaining respect.
- Recognize when you haven't succeeded. Know when to cut your losses and stop flogging the dead horse. This can be quite hard, but we have to always be wary of our own blinkers.
- Make sure the pieces from your failure have been sufficiently picked up. As Smith says: "If you have a reputation to repair, then take care of that immediately, so your future ventures will be taken seriously by those around you."
- Remind yourself of your past successes. Even in the depths of despair, go back and reflect on the times you did succeed and remember how you survived past mistakes.
- Make a positive decision. Anything at all. Even if it's something as simple as to take a day off and go swimming. Get refreshed so when you revisit the failure you're in a better headspace.
- Forget the past and focus on the future. Water under the bridge. Take stock and move on to the next project or purpose.
- Revisit your vision. To quote Stephen Covey: "All things are created twice." Failure is a good crystallizer. When you start again you have greater clarity of logic. Use it.