Why A Company Fails, But Not Because Of Us

December 12, 2021

Certain subjects dog us all our lives, I think failure is one of them.

Failure is a weird thing. The reasons why it happens to us are both illusive and obvious, anticipated and random, measurable and experienced. But what is the quality of failure? I think the answer is complicated, and many entrepreneurs will outright value one view over another

Each of these explanations might feel right, even if they aren’t technically true.

Inadequate funding, incompetent leadership, laziness, avarice, being disorganized, and just plain stupidity are trending rationalizations. But what causes us to make these excuses when we fail and believe them every time? Why are we unable to analyze events as they happened and not as we imagined they did?

It is my belief that people are not as rational as we would like them to be, and so it’s almost useless to believe that they have a productive use for all the facts in front of them (or at least the important ones). When I say that I believe people are not rational, you might be wondering what I mean by that?

What I mean is that humans are largely guided by the whims and appetites of irrational forces: the lizard (or monkey) brain, the unconscious, or by passions as we understand them by our contemporaries. Plainly stated: We act first, then rationalize our decisions and behaviors after the fact. Through no fault of our own, we set the table for failure to occur because we already have an explanation at the ready. 

Without skirting into a philosophical discussion, I’ll finish by saying that we are not well-disposed to examine events and experiences as chronologies of facts.

Our evolutionary equipment is not optimized or designed for this, so using our memory to understand what led our business to fail is to tell yourself a story you already believe. Failure is rooted in inattention and indifference, those seem to be the only constants. The only cure is courage

You need enough courage to try despite the fear of coming up short. Also, paying attention is an act of courage- because it requires that we examine what was intentionally left in the dark. To quote Nietzsche, “a thinker sees his own actions as experiments and questions--as attempts to find out something.

Success and failure are for him answers above all.” So, whether you fail or succeed, take caution of the stories you tell- they matter more than the facts as you have them.

Signing off

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