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Failing on Purpose?

Throughout my years as a coach, I’ve noticed a sad but interesting phenomenon: People often choose failure over success—on purpose.

A few years ago, I asked a group of coaches who were attending the event at which I was speaking how many of them were there because they needed more clients.

All 47 of the people in the room raised their hands.

I then asked how many of them were getting some kind of coaching or training to improve their situation and astoundingly, this time, only TWO hands went up.

One of my coaches, author Steve Chandler, talks about how people will fight to their deaths to defend a story they’ve made up about themselves (e.g. “I don’t need help…I can do it on my own”, or “I tried getting help, but it didn’t work”) rather than simply showing their vulnerability to someone by asking for what they need and then following through to get it.

Several years ago, I offered a select group of financial advisors an intensive workshop on client development.  I filled the program, which included an all-day in-person workshop in New Jersey, followed by several groups and individual coaching calls.

Everybody showed up for the all-day workshop, but many chose not to take advantage of the coaching sessions that came afterward.  I understand that investing in help when you’re not sure you’ll get value for your investment causes people to hesitate.  But the people in this workshop had already paid for the help.

A few of those people actually didn’t need more help.  A couple were already my private clients.  And one or two may not have felt that what I was doing could help them.  I can accept and respect that.

The rest, however, simply chose not to get the help they so desperately needed.  Rather than being vulnerable enough to admit that they needed it—so that they could get and grow from it—they chose to take their story, that they could do it on their own or not at all, to their deaths.

They chose to fail on purpose.

If you’re one of those business owners or professionals who wants to say, “I tried everything, but none of it worked,” stick to your story…and fail on purpose.  Go ahead—it’s okay.

If, however, you are willing to admit you need a little extra help, I would encourage you to take a calculated risk and invest in it—down to your last borrowed dime if need be.  If you can extend your arm to meet a helping hand, you might change your story and be glad you did.





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