Tag Archives: success

The Power of Mistakes

Stephanie Brun de Pontet
Stephanie Brun de Pontet

Nobody likes to make mistakes – but avoiding mistakes at all costs may be a big mistake…

First, everyone will make mistakes – you cannot realistically avoid this. 

Living in a bubble, making no decisions and generally staying away from life will still lead to countless errors of missed opportunities.  Don’t forget – there are mistakes of ‘commission’ (things you should not have done) like accidently insulting a key supplier, or making an error in your financial analysis – these you can avoid by taking no actions and making no choices.  Yet, there are also mistakes of omission (things you should have done, but failed to do) like not returning the call from your brother because he is difficult, or not following up on a sales lead  – and living on the sidelines trying to avoid any responsibility will lead to those mistakes every time.

Second, most successful businesses are built on a trail of mistakes. 

By that I mean most entrepreneurs failed many times before arriving at their current success.  It is not that entrepreneurs are wild risk takers – rather they do not see risk in the same way others do, and they are very skilled at learning from their mistakes.  In order to break new ground, truly innovate and bring a new product or service to market, the entrepreneur has to be willing to engage in a lot of experimentation, trial and error, and mistakes. The best advice I have heard on entrepreneurial mistakes is to ‘fail fast’ – that is, commit to a path or idea – be willing to make a big mistake, but then know quickly when to pull the plug, learn from the mistake and make the needed adjustments to try again.

Third, mistakes will help you uncover your path and full potential.

If, like many people, you are not clear about your path in life, trying a range of paths and ideas will help you to uncover first what you don’t want to be doing (the mistakes) which will help inform your understanding of what you should be doing.  If you are unwilling to try new things for fear of failing or making mistakes, you will never have the opportunity to discover what truly energizes you.  Note that even if you are clear on the path to success you want to follow, you cannot really reach your potential without making mistakes as you take the hard turns on that path.  If you never make a mistake – it isn’t that you are particularly gifted, it is rather more likely that you are on the path of least resistance and not taking the risks you need to reach your full potential.

These quick reminders of the value of mistakes can be important for families in business together because once a family and business have experienced great success and stability – it can be hard to remember the journey of failure and mistakes that lead to this outcome, and easy to fall into the trap of playing defense and striving only ‘not to fail.’  Both the business and family members need to continue to be willing to make mistakes to grow, evolve, and find their full potential.

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There are many paths to greatness – the challenge is finding yours…

Stephanie Brun de Pontet
Stephanie Brun de Pontet

Over the years of my work with business-owning families I have had the privilege of collaborating with many successful individuals, whom I greatly admire.

  • There is the founder with an idealistic spirit, exceptional sales ability and sharp business instincts, whose greatest sense of accomplishment comes from never having laid off any employees – even in times of hardship.  Though he is the sole owner of his business, he seeks input, truly listens and builds consensus with others.
  • There is the hard-driving leader who has built a business on the strength of her work ethic and determination to ‘do the job right.’  While she drives all around her hard – all are clear that she drives herself the hardest.  Demanding and ambitious, she also mentors and develops all who come into her circle and devotes a tremendous amount of energy to her church and family.
  • There is the next generation young adult who always struggled in school yet persists to complete a degree, while working full time to learn business and develop more ‘practical skills.’  Not content to simply ‘fulfill the obligations’ of the family employment policy – he has worked for several years in a related business, developing industry contacts as well as knowledge he plans to bring back when he does eventually join his family’s business.
  • There is the second-generation leader whose intelligence and quiet resolve have allowed the business he owns with his brother to flourish where competitors have struggled.  Though revered in his industry he shares the limelight and all ownership decisions with his brother, and has comfortably transitioned out of the leadership role.

The point of these stories is to highlight that there is no one path to success in a family business, or anywhere else for that matter.  Sometimes we spend too much energy looking for ‘the formula’ for success – when in truth the search should be for your personal path.  For the most part, when people arrive at success it is because they have a vision of where they want to go with their potential, and then put one foot in front of the other towards that goal.  Make sure you are on the right path, because if you aren’t – no matter what you accomplish, you will not have achieved success for yourself.

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