At our recent company Christmas event, I was given the opportunity to give a speech. The speech went down well with the audience, so I thought I’d share it with you.
“As IMA people, one of our core values is excellence every day.
We are a bunch of achievers. We conceive new ideas, we examine options, we plan, we do, we succeed. Every day. That’s why they pay us the big bucks.
So when we do all that, and the outcome is NOT success, it is a shock. And it is more of a shock than for normal people. It’s an affront. It hurts.
But after that shock, we pick ourselves up again. We examine our reasoning for having done what we did, we examine the cause for the lack of success, we re-examine the various routes to success we did not take.
Sometimes we find that we made a crucial mistake. Yes, that is possible. We are human.
Sometimes we find we did the right things, based on the best available data, but the best available data was not good enough.
And sometimes we find we just had bad luck.
Most of us get hired to provide clients with a safe route to a successful outcome.
But one of us is in a different position. Whilst he has to provide safe outcomes, he also has to take risks. More risks than the rest of us. Because as an entrepreneur that is what you do.
As an entrepreneur you conceive new ideas, you examine options, you plan… but you don’t wait for certainty of success. If you did that, you’d never get a new venture off the ground.
You can’t always get to success in small steps. At measured times, you have to Swing for the Fences. Take that baseball bat and swing out with full force, aiming to get the ball over the fence, or, in this case, aiming to get that ball into the next city.”
At this point, I asked our MD, and founder of the company, Ian Metzke, to come forward. (You should know that last year, also at our Christmas party, I was awarded the Swing for the Fences award. This award was newly created that year, for someone who has put a lot of effort in an ambitious plan, but who has failed, through circumstances beyond their control, to achieve success.
That year, I had done a perfect – and somewhat ballsy – piece of Business Analysis work for the internal HR system we were developing, which was shot down in sight of the finish by our MD and our CEO. It turned out they trumped my sponsor and key stakeholder, the head of HR.
This year, when we were asked to nominate a potential recipient, I could not help but think of our MD, Ian, and his bad luck earlier in the year… cont….)
“Ian, you have set up and built out IMA successfully in Victoria. You then followed your vision of an IMA office in every major city, and set up the Sydney office.
And when that was up and running, you set your next target.
With the best available data, and the best planning, you made a big leap, and set out to conquer Canberra with a local office.
Only this time it wasn’t a home run. Somehow we did not get a good foothold in Canberra, so unfortunately it wasn’t a success. And you had to pull up stumps in Canberra.
Ian, you plan, you do, you succeed. And when you don’t succeed, you shake off the shock, and you pick up that bat again. Always striving for excellence. Sometimes stumbling, but never quitting.
Ian, I’d like to award you tonight with the Swing for the Fences award, for your valiant attempt to repeat the success of Melbourne and Sydney in Canberra.”
Here is Ian’s (surprisingly short) acceptance speech.
“Thank you Koen, this award means a lot to me. The Swing for the Fences award is my favourite award, because success is built from trying, failing, learning and trying again, so to be the recipient of it is something I value highly.”
So that is how you tell people, such as your boss, that they have failed. By praising their efforts, by helping them re-examine potential routes to success, and by encouraging them to pick up the bat and try again, with more knowledge and more wisdom. Giving them the support and confidence to, as they say… try, try again.