Success or Failure – Never Forever

Leaders need to remember success or failure is not forever. Ken Blanchard said, “Success is not forever and failure isn’t fatal.” Since this is the case it would be wise for leaders to get past success or failure quickly so they can keep moving forward. What can happen though is when a success or failure does happen to a leader, they allow it to hold them back from moving forward.

Don Shula had a twenty-four hour rule when he coached the Miami Dolphins. “He allowed himself, his coaches, and his players a maximum of twenty-four hours after a football game to celebrate a victory or bemoan a defeat. During that time, they were encouraged to experience the thrill of victory or the agony of defeat as deeply as possible. Once the twenty-four hour deadline had passed, they put it behind them and focused their energies on preparing for the next opponent.”

The key to moving forward after a success or failure is to evaluate, learn, make adjustments, and then move forward. Let’s look into each of these areas:

Evaluate- A leader should take time to reflect and evaluate the reason for the success or failure. Looking at what went well and what could have gone better. A leader should do a self-evaluation and then evaluate the other people involved

Learn- What can happen during a success or failure is that people are either overly celebrating or trying to pass the blame, but the goal should be to learn from what has happened. If a leader can learn from what has happened then both the leader and organization will be able to better be prepared for the future.

Make adjustments- After a leader has evaluated and learned from what has happened they should make the necessary adjustments.

Move forward- After the above three things have been done the leader should then lead the people forward.

Question: How do you move forward after a success or failure?

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34 thoughts on “Success or Failure – Never Forever

  1. I do it very similar to the method mentioned here. I celebrate or mourn but then I move on. It’s never good to focus so much on the past that you never move into the present.

  2. I do it similar to what you say. I give myself about 24 hours and then remind myself “This too shall pass” and move forward. Excellent content as always!

    • Jim,
      I also have a “This too shall pass” mindset when it comes to going through a failure or mistake. Thank you for the complement and sharing.

  3. It seems the difficult times for me are when I’ve had success. Then I feel like I’ve “earned” the right to slouch off the next week. Keeping positive momentum going is something to definitely work towards. I like the idea of a 24 hour period of celebrating or mourning. Perhaps I need to define a pre-specified time period for this.

    • Loren,
      I think it’s more of a challenge with successes than with failures. I have seen many company’s and leaders be held back because of a past success. After reading what Don Shula said, I’m applying the 25 hour rule into my life.

  4. Moving past failures are hard but the best way is to have someone that can mentor you through those tough times. Someone to tell you to move on. Now the successes we tend to celebrate too long and it takes us away from the field. So having someone to be accountable to helps me to move past successes and failures without dwelling on one or the other.

    • Lincoln Parks,
      Having a mentor or accountability partner during times of success or failure is so important, thank you for mentioning it. Thank you for adding to the post.

  5. I like that 24 hour rule- especially with defeats. We need time to wallow in it, but we have to move on…there really isn’t any other choice. As long as we are living there is work to do and lessons to learn.

    Thanks for that tip- I think the next time I go through a set back I will use the 24 hour rule.

  6. I have the blessing of a short memory…success? What success? Failure? What failure? “Whats done is done; what’s done is forgiven; time to move on” has been my motto for the better part of the last 20 years.

  7. Dan, I had the same problem that you mentioned here. I used to spend (meaning, wasted) a lot of time resting on success or lying on failure. But later I realized this was hindering my productivity. So I got up and started moving forward. That’s when I really began seeing success.

    I move forward with an attitude of celebration believing that God is ordering my steps. I attempt to learn from failures. Fixing my eyes on the grand goal helps me keep moving.

    • Joe,
      First off thank you for being so interactive, your great.

      I think mature people know the importance of moving forward after a success or failure. I really like what you said about having “an attitude of celebration believing God is ordering my steps” this is such an important thing to remember no matter what happens to us. I think the goal of every Christian leader is to maintain being focused on God and not on their successes or failures.

      Thank you for adding value to the post and conversation.

    • Marc,
      I think we often can forget about moving forward because of a success or failure but God calls us to striving forward. What a great thing to know and remember, “God doesn’t view us as failures but as learners. Such a powerful concept, something more should be said about this point. I might have to think and see if I can write a post on from this quote. Thanks for the idea and sharing your thoughts.

  8. Can’t agree more with you. I think nothing on this earth is permanent, we are overwhelmed by the fact that everything needs ‘maintenance’ – success, failure, faith, patience, and even happiness.

  9. I’m getting better at handling failure and success. I used to take a week to get over a failure and 2 weeks to deflate my ego from a success. I’m learning how to be more even-tempered with both…thank God!

    This is great post Dan!

  10. I try to acknowledge the victory or defeat and analyze what went wrong or right with my team. ESPECIALLY if I’m the one who goofed. I tend to be on the self-deprecating side, which is intentional most times.

    I feel it shows my team that I’m willing to admit when I am at fault.

    Since we are performing critical Cat Scan exams, we can’t just see if we get it right next time. We discuss what went wrong and why so it doesn’t happen again.

    • Scott,
      Taking time with your team to analyze and learn from the success or failure is key. Showing your team your not perfect is important when it comes to gaining their trust and loyalty.

      In the Emergency Room/ Hospital it can come down to a life or death situation. It’s why its so important to learn and become better from everything that happens.

      Thank you for stopping by.