I'm convinced no one gets up in the morning and asks, "How can I totally mess up my life today?" I'm also pretty sure that few people (there may be some exceptions) enter a business venture with the hope and expectation the company will fail and their investment will be lost.
I just completed presenting a telephone seminar where we talked about how people can more effectively link their strategies with their decisions. My research sent me looking for the reasons businesses fail. There are several lists on the web for your review. As I looked over some of them, I found similarities that prompted me to conclude that businesses (and people) fail because of some combination of the following:
- Limited resources (Talent, money, time, etc.)
- Mismatched abilities ("I'm good at X, I ought to be able to do Y as well.")
- Inadequate planning (A business plan? Who needs a business plan?)
- Insufficient marketing/sales (Brilliant idea/concept, but who's going to sell it for you?)
At a personal level, the same list looks like this:
- Inadequate internal strength to withstand external pressure
- Not doing what you're wired to do
- A career path that is dictated by circumstances
- The inability to tell your story and communicate your value to an organization
At the heart of both scenarios is a failure to make the connection between a dream/strategy and behavior/daily decisions. Results at any level are determined by the decisions people make about how they allocate the resources at their disposal. Strategy defines direction; decisions determine results.
A mission statement tells who you want to be and where you want to go--as a company or as a person. But corporate culture and personal effectiveness are determined by how people act--what they do each day. Your business or your life is where it is today because of your choices, not your circumstances. Every reason for failure listed earlier is the result of one or more decisions someone made that resulted in an outcome.
If you don't like the direction of your business or your life look at your strategy. But more than that--look at your choices, the decisions you're making every day about how you pursue and accomplish that strategy. Failure is often the result of never clearly understanding the full price of success.