Failure is frequently attributed to any number of factors, sometimes out of our hands (e.g., the economy, a bad boss, bad timing), but often within our control, if we are brutally honest with ourselves.

However, over the past decades of my career, I’ve observed a common thread in a large number of the failures people experience in their careers and life. When you dig down to the root cause underlying the surface symptoms of someone’s failure, it boils down to:

They refuse to change.

This manifests itself in one or more ways:

  • Maintaining an inward focus

  • Refusing to listen to advice

  • Being unwilling to try something new

  • Exhibiting a lack of humility

  • Knowing that they already have all of the answers

  • Believing that their situation is somehow unique

  • Not embracing that one must be a lifelong learner

I know that I’ve been guilty of some of these sins at points in my life, and I paid the price.

As a younger man, I was sure that I had all of the answers. As I grow older, it is becoming rapidly apparent that, actually, I hardly know anything.

The enormity of what remains unlearned and unknown overwhelms me sometimes. But, I’m learning to make peace with that, although I won’t deny that it makes me sad.

Some of the happiest successes in my life have been the result of admitting that I needed advice and help. Risking my protective walls of confidence, I learned to say, “I don’t know” or “I’ve never done that before, but I’m willing to try.”

Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” ― Leo Tolstoy

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