It’s best to learn from the mistakes of others

Anyone who owns a small business or embarks on an entrepreneurial journey is going to make mistakes. We’ve all heard that the only people who don’t make mistakes are those who are not doing anything, and that’s true. The good news is that there are lessons that can be learned from mistakes that can take us to a higher level. The even better news is that we can learn those lessons from the mistakes of others thereby sparing us from having to make those same mistakes. I wrote my book Mistakes: Avoiding the Wrong Decisions That Will Close Your Small Business to share the mistakes I made as a small business owner that led to the eventual closing of our small business to help other small business owner avoid the same mistakes.

Another book I have found very helpful when looking at leadership failures is Derailed: Five Lessons Learned from Catastrophic Failures of Leadership (NelsonFree) by Tim Irwin. The author examines some major failures made by the CEOs of leading companies. What’s most helpful is that he goes behind the failures themselves to understand what drove the decisions that led to those failures. He then summarizes for the reader some lessons he learned from studying these individuals.

  1. Lesson One – Character trumps competence
  2. Lesson Two – Arrogance is the mother of all derailers.
  3. Lesson Three – A lack of self/other awareness is a common denominator of all derailments.
  4. Lesson Four – We are always who we are…especially under stress.
  5. Lesson Five – Derailment is not inevitable, but without attention to development, it is probable.

When we first look at these lessons we may be tempted to claim that we already know them, but do we? The people this book focuses on are top notch leaders who had enjoyed success at the highest levels. Yet, they either hadn’t learned these lessons or they had forgotten them. Either way, it cost them dearly.

My own mistakes also cost me dearly. There’s few things more painful than to watch your business close and its assets sell at auction for pennies on the dollar. The only thing worse is knowing that none of that would have probably happened if you had made wiser decisions. I learned a lot from that experience, and I hope what I learned will help me make my next business better. I also want to help you avoid making similar mistakes which the reason i wrote the book.

The cheapest lesson you can learn is one someone else has already paid for. If you can learn from the mistakes of others you will save yourself a lot of money and stress.

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