Almost Succeeding But Not Quite Failing

A way to measure your progress when you haven't failed, but you haven't succeeded either.

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Michael Wade
Even the most successful careers can be dotted by failures. It is axiomatic that we learn from setbacks far more than from victories. The person who has never received the career equivalent of a stomach punch may be less prepared to deal with adversity.

With a conventional failure, one fails, regroups, and then moves on. But what of that territory between success and failure which gives the benefits of neither? A clear-cut failure tells you what doesn’t work and jars you toward other endeavors or approaches. The not-quite success yet not-quite failure, however, may leave just enough hope to keep you mired in what is really a hopeless effort.

There are two solutions to this problem. The first is to set a strict deadline on how long energy and effort will be dedicated to the job or project. Once that deadline is reached, it is time to try something else. The other solution is to redefine the definition of success in order to appreciate what has been achieved. You can find individuals who have, by any reasonable measure, achieved a great deal but are perpetually dissatisfied. They have to change their job or change their goal. If they don’t, they’ll be caught in the limbo of almost succeeding while not quite failing.

That is not a pleasant place to be.

Michael Wade writes, an eclectic combination of management advice, observations, and links. A partner with the Phoenix firm of Sanders Wade Rodarte Consulting Inc., he has advised private and public-sector organizations for more than 30 years.