Many people are really good at dissecting their failures and spend countless hours pouring over the details of what they did wrong. The good news is that we can learn from our mistakes and pinpoint strategies to prevent repeating our failures. The bad news is that focusing on our mistakes can also poison our mind and our spirit.  It is natural to feel discouraged and lose confidence when we spend time and energy examining our shortcomings, inadequacies, and failures. Subsequently we begin to alter our view of the world to explain why we haven’t been successful. Have you known people who explain their lack of success due to the following….

“Leadership in this organization isn’t open to new ways of thinking”
“I didn’t get promoted because I don’t schmooze upper management”
“The only way to sell to this company is if you know someone on the inside”
“The economy is terrible – nobody can be successful in this environment”
“My coworkers are apathetic and incompetent – we can’t be effective as a team”
“I can’t stop slicing the ball on my drives – I just have to accept that this is my natural swing”

In each of the instances above, there are people who win over upper management, earn promotions, sell to companies, succeed in any economy, work well with others, and drive the ball down the middle of the fairway! You can bet those who succeed aren’t wasting their time wallowing in the “reasons” listed above.

The secret to being like these people is to study their successes. How did they do it? What were their strategies? How did they spend their time? Common characteristics you will likely find among winners are a belief in themselves, an optimistic attitude toward others and the world, and spending more time on studying ‘what works’ instead of ‘what didn’t work’.

If you want to be a great salesperson, learn the habits of the top producer in your company.  If you want to be a better golfer, take lessons from a professional who knows how to hit a golf ball long and straight. If you want to get the ear of top management, talk to a person who has earned the trust of top management. Six Sigmas and Blackbelts call this practice ‘benchmarking’. In most cases, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel – it has already been invented. Just go find the formula!

Success can be learned.