Why Your Best Achievements May Be Your Biggest Failures

I have not failed. I have only found 10,000 ways that don’t work –Thomas Edison

I was a PT practice owner for many years. I had a lot of success—and I’m proud of them. But it’s been my failures—not my achievements—that taught me the most. I credit most of my eventual success as a PT owner to the mistakes I made along the way. They were the risks and the learning opportunities that propelled me to financial and professional prosperity.

Acknowledging and examining our failures is painful. It’s scary. Most people don’t want to feel those uncomfortable emotions. So rather than looking closely at our mistakes, we avoid them. That’s a huge missed opportunity.

Think I’m overstating the power of using failure to find success? Thomas Edison made 10,000 attempts at the light bulb. None worked. Again and again, he returned to his mistakes, using them to inform and direct his next steps. And then he changed the world.

PT owners who are able to see “failure” for what it is– an essential stepping stone to success – gain an invaluable advantage. Detaching yourself from the emotional triggers wrapped up in a fear of failure, you can examine and learn from it.

Something transformative happens when you free yourself and your staff from the crushing fear of being wrong. Your team starts to really trust one another. Opportunities to learn become abundant. For the first time, you’ll gather information about how your practice is really working—and convert that information into strategies to make it work better.

4 ways to re-frame your failures right now:

Stop blaming

Blame is a natural response when something goes wrong. We sometimes blame ourselves, beating ourselves up for things we didn’t know. We really like to blame others. We eagerly look for culprits in the world around us. My referrals are down because of consolidation. I can’t make a profit thanks to the ACA. This blame game is a fruitless distraction, one keeps us from finding the gold that lies within our mistakes. And a culture of blame is toxic for teamwork.  

Get curious

When we remove blame from the equation, we’re suddenly free to ask all sorts of important questions. “Who got this wrong?” becomes “What went wrong?” Mistakes are almost never the “fault” of a single person. Failure is a process. We spend so much time focused on processes that promise success. It’s time to get just as curious about the processes that result in failure.

Build a discovery-focused team

As PT owners, it’s up to us to lead by example. Demonstrate to your team that you want to learn from mistakes. When errors happen or crises erupt, show them you can stay calm, focused, and curious. Ask questions. Listen. Then ask they behave that same way with one another. Let your team know what you want: instead of burying failure under excuses and hope-nobody-notices behavior, to expose mistakes to sunlight instead.

Take more risks

We need to do more than avoid failure. In strategically growing a PT practice, owners are faced with opportunities to take risks that expose us to falling short. That’s what pushing the envelope means and it is essential to growing a practice. When owners can see these growth-producing risks as a step toward success, they become something to embrace, not avoid.

What are the most common mistakes that get in the way of more patients? Get your FREE copy of my guide, the Patient Visit Multiplier, to find out.