Conventional wisdom is people fail (in business and in life) because they lack the skills make themselves succeed. That's usually not the case, though. In my experience, failure in business is almost always the result of one or more of the following eight reasons:
- #1: You base your self-worth on what others think. If you define your sense of worth based on how you assume your boss, co-workers, and customers see you, you'll be deeply hurt by anything that smacks of criticism. As a result, work becomes a roller-coaster of emotions resulting from the alternation of praise and rejection.
- #2: You assume that your past defines your future. Some people find failure so unpleasant that they try to avoid it at all costs. As a result, they avoid any situations where failure is a risk. Because any meaningful effort entails risk, such people seldom, if ever, accomplish anything significant. So they fail by default.
- #3. You believe in luck, fate or divine intervention. Some people believe that their status in life and potential as a human being is determined by supernatural events outside of their control. Such beliefs, however, constantly keep you focused on what you can't change (e.g. "destiny") rather than what you can (e.g. your skill set.)
- #4: You lack the upbeat attitude that creates success. Success in business requires three basic character attributes: 1) Empathy, so that you can understand people and their motivation. 2) Confidence, so that you can convince and inspire those around you, and 3) Resilience, so that temporary setbacks become spurs that constantly move you forward.
- #5: You'd really rather be doing something else. The sad sacks of the business world often wish they had the nerve do something completely different. If your ideal occupation is wildly out of line with what you're doing to make money, you'll inevitably sabotage your success, do a half-assed job, and end up wondering why you wasted so much time.
- #6: You aren't learning from your mistakes. Most people either take past failures too seriously (and give up) or simply soldier on, pretending that they didn't fail. However, until and unless you understand how, why and where you failed, it's impossible to correct systemic problems in your approach.
- #7: You aren't willing to try a new approach. Many people are strangely resistant to learning new ideas, especially if they've already achieved a certain level of success. If you've "topped off" at a your current level of performance, chances are you've not made a commitment to learn the skills and concept that will take you to a higher level.
- #8: You can, but won't, do what's necessary. While it's true that a few failures are the result of being unable to do the work, in most cases people know what needs to be done (e.g. learn new skills, find a new boss, etc.) but simply aren't willing to do the extra work required to put the plan into action.