Part 5 of 5: Is failure the mother of success, or only “Parent #1″?

Heard on the street: If failure is the mother of success, then who is the father? Or does success, like Heather, have two mommies?”

CNN recently ran a series on creativity.  One of the articles was “The Success of Failure.”

While this particular piece was not directed specifically at business failures, the timing was striking.  Its been over three years since one of the worst financial meltdowns in history. We are still digging ourselves out.  Are we still in “failure” mode?

Nowhere is failure more apparent than in the restructuring area.  Every case stems from a failure of one kind or another.  Our job is to make a success of it, or at least try to salvage what we can.  This is ever more challenging now, given that the economy is still operating like the Spaceship Mir.

With credit tight, buyers scarse, and traditional tools that don’t always work, things are harder now.  The process demands more resourcefulness than ever.

Failure is an everyday matter in the restructuring world, but restructuring professionals, whose very work comes about because of failures, often understand failure the least. The first year of practicing law is career samsara – initial elation and confidence, followed by dejection and insecurity.  Eventually, we come to the realization that sets us on solid footing for the rest of our careers: namely, that everyday, three things may happen:

1. We will have to tell someone something they did not want to hear

2. Someone will yell at us

3. Something will get completely screwed up

This flash of light is what enables lawyers to actually practice law.  I am able to enjoy what I do, and not constantly wait for the other shoe to drop. Success and failure are both part of the job. If you aren’t making any mistakes, you probably aren’t doing any work, either.

Bottom line:  Success and failure are inextricably tied.  The fact that not everything is a great success allows us to develop the creativity we need to bring to our practices.

This blog is a place to talk about the practice with its successes and failures – the daily trials of delivering bad news, getting yelled at, and things getting totally screwed up.

My five part series introducing the blog is at an end, but my weekly articles will continue throughout 2012.   Next week’s article will discuss the challenges of restructuring companies in so-called “doomed” industries.  Did the telecommunications revolution actually do the damage?

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