While I love optimists, sometimes, they can be full of it. Take the common saying:
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
While there’s some truth in the statement, there’s also a trap. Just getting through something, even though it can build character, is a hard way to live a life or run a business. Anytime we’re knocked down, just getting back up as a stronger version of our current selves is not a good plan. Better to stay standing and avoid being “killed” again.
Companies where circumstances continually improve are led by people who focus not just on knowledge, but on the application of that knowledge. They understand that what doesn’t kill you, when you apply the lessons, makes you smarter. That’s why Netflix rebounded after massive customer cancellations, Starbucks learned from its mistakes to become a stronger version of itself, and Dyson went from over 5,000 failed prototypes to a multibillion dollar business. These companies had leaders who understood that knowledge isn’t power, but that applied knowledge gives you tremendous power, leverage, and momentum.
Next time that killer mistake, client defection, or employee exodus lands at your feet, resist the common temptation of asking the most useless question of all: “Why?” Why is for victims, not victors, keeping them focused on the problem and the fallout from that problem. Instead, you can fall up, instead of down, by asking:
- How will I simply, quickly, and thoroughly resolve this problem?
- What lessons are there in this situation? How will I apply them? And by when?
This Week’s Radical Accountability Activating Action: Save this article for the next problem, mistake, or issue that comes your way, As you apply these questions, bounce them off your colleagues, business peers, or a trusted advisor, as it can be hard to see all of the answers and possibilities when you’re busy getting back up and dusting yourself off.
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