TRP Series Story 5 : Fatal Failures

All fatal failures are the result of one or all of the following:

  • Failure to learn from the past
  • Failure to adapt to the present
  • Failure to anticipate the future

Look at the history of nations and companies. Study wars and battles, crises and bankruptcies. Isn’t it so?

Failure to Learn from the Past

The failure to learn from the past is often avoidable if we are either humble enough to acknowledge and learn from our past mistakes, or we are smart enough to learn from the mistakes of others.

It is often course best to learn from others’ mistakes, but we often only learn our lesson after we have made the same mistakes themselves.

Failure to Adapt to the Present

A failure to adapt to the present is often also avoidable if we recognise that change is the only constant – situations change, the desires and perspectives of people change, the possibilities of technology change, the demands of the market change, etc.

We can only adapt to the present if we are humble enough to accept that what we are currently doing might no longer be the best practice or policy for today – we need to constantly evaluate, evolve, and adapt to keep up with the times.

Failure to Anticipate the Future

The most common type of failure is the failure to anticipate the future.

Anticipating the future requires the discipline of first envisaging the future, and then working at what needs to be done today in order to be prepared for tomorrow.

Boldness in thought and action does not come from a stirring in the heart or mind – it comes from being clear about where we need to be and what we need to do to get to where we want to be.

To be in time for the future is a continuous challenge of anticipating the future and positioning ourselves and/ or our organisation for it.

A failure to anticipate the future is ultimately a failure of leadership to prepare for survival and sustainable success.

Perspective #5:

Success today does not guarantee success tomorrow. No one likes the idea of failing, but we all need to be conscious of the possibility of failing.

As Benjamin Franklin, one of the founding fathers of the United States, famously said: “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

We need to learn from the past and adapt to the present in order to anticipate and prepare for the future.


Reference: Page 151, “The Leader, The Teacher and You


By: Lim Siong Guan & Joanne Lim (Co-Authors of “Winning with Honour” and “The Leader, The Teacher & You“)

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