When Things Do Not Work Out and Success Comes From Failure

Not everything is in our hands. All we can respond for are the actions that we take, but unfortunately, not everything depends on what we do. We live in a community, and as a community, we create and collaborate. Most of the time, when we collaborate, things go well, and many times, they go extraordinarily well. But sometimes, we get results that can be very disappointing. We might have made agreements and participated in good faith, but the results are not what we expected and sometimes they are the opposite of what we wanted. What then?

Try to fix it

When something – a project or a part of it, a transaction, an agreement – does not turn out well, the first step is to fix it as soon as you can. Sometimes the disappointment can be so big that you do not see how you can possibly repair something. In my experience, though, most things can get solved. Once you have given it some thought, preferably with others on the team who are involved with the issue, it often happens that an idea comes out, seemingly out of nowhere, and you can fix the problem. Frequently, the result is even better than you would have thought.

[Photo: Joshua Newton/Unsplash]

[Photo: Joshua Newton/Unsplash]

Sometimes there is no fix. The opportunity is gone, and there is nothing to be done about it. We must then accept the consequences, and this is often difficult. But someone once told me that those are the consequences of working as a team, and I would say this is true of working overall. As a group of people, you are maybe able to achieve 90% of what you set out to do, but the other 10% can be budgeted as the cost of doing business. Taking this view can help you to deal with the things you cannot control.

Prevent it in the future

One thing you can do is to prevent these problems in the future. Often, the issues that arise can be blessings in disguise that avoid situations that could have been more damaging in the future. If you and your team take the time to understand what happened and how to prevent it in the future, you will have gotten a good return on the problem.

Some ways to program these fixes into how you work are by modifying your processes or your workflows to prevent errors from creeping in. You can also alter your policies and train your teams so that they know what happened and how to fix it in the future. If you take all these steps, the problems you encountered will be much less likely in the future.

Furthermore, little by little, you will start to build your team. A strong team is the core of any company. Everything is in their hands, after all. If they respond correctly and receive better training in how to handle situations best, you will eliminate future problems. Knowledge also gets transmitted from one person to the next, so that training one person has a multiplicative effect.

Take a longer view

As our organizations grow bigger, we will have less and less control. The actions of the company will be shared between many, and nothing will ever be perfect. In our early schooling years, we are taught that a perfect score is possible due to the measurement of performance with grades, which proves to be only an illusion. In real life, we try to get close to an ideal, but that is what it is – an ideal. The goal is the pursuit of excellence, not perfection. And excellence comes from always having and aiming for high expectations. We may not achieve them, but if we gave it our best effort, we will probably get very close.

As we move forward and try to achieve even greater goals with our organizations, it is crucial to be aware that mistakes will happen and that everything is okay as long as they are just temporary setbacks that can be remedied in the future. If the longer arc of the company’s development follows the goals you set out for the organization, you will be doing well. Small setbacks do not matter as much.

[Photo: Hannes Richter/Unsplash]

[Photo: Hannes Richter/Unsplash]

Learning takes some time, as we usually need to evolve in that direction in our mindsets as well. When we first started work, we were probably very immersed in the details. With time, we may have started managing small teams and then grew to manage larger ones. Our perspective necessarily evolves as well, so that we take a more strategic view of the work we do. This transition is an important one because it helps us forgive small setbacks while keeping our eye on the larger picture, which may be most beneficial.

Even though control is an illusion, we can create organizations that minimize risk and achieve their objectives. Not everything will go as we had expected, and in this case, we can fix most problems and prevent the same issues from happening in the future. If we leave a sufficient margin of error, we will be able to guide our companies in the direction we have set out.


Pamela Ayuso is an author and the co-founder and CEO of Celaque. She is a real estate entrepreneur and developer who has executive leadership experience in two of the most successful real estate developers in Honduras — managing operations at Alianza and leading Celaque. Celaque develops office and residential buildings and manages a broad portfolio of properties. Pamela’s focus is on growing Celaque into a model for the 21st-century company.

In addition to her role as CEO at Celaque, Pamela is the author of Amazon best-selling book, Heptagram: The 7-Pillar Business Design System for the 21st Century. She offers practical business and personal development insights for other entrepreneurs and business leaders on her blog and LinkedIn. Her husband and her three wonderful daughters inspired the story of her first children’s book, Alicia and Bunnie Paint a Mural.       

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