When one sets out to accomplish a goal and falls short, there are benefits to doing an after action reflection to learn from the mistakes made along the way. Paying attention to failures and learning from them is certainly a valuable exercise. However, sometimes lost in the conversation is what can be learned from success.
Having success be a part of the reflective practice and self-improvement cycle provides a richer picture of experiences that enhance the learning from those experiences. To only focus on failure leaves a gap in one's mental models and ignores the potential benefits of learning from success. Here are a few benefits of learning from success.
1. Reflecting on success will likely help you define what future success looks like. Once you have a clear vision of success, it is more likely to be achieved than a generic or loosely defined goal.
2. One lesson you may learn from success is how an approach you took might work to achieve other goals. In other words, you might be able to apply the same action plan to a different goal to get better results.
3. Connections and relationships are important. Few accomplishments are achieved without some help or encouragement along the way. Reflecting on success can help identify who those people are. Thank them and ask for future help!
4. Successes, even small ones, can serve to motivate you through a tough period. This is particularly helpful when trying to achieve a complex or difficult goal. Small victories along the way are more likely to keep you focused and committed. This will build grit (seeing the goal to the end) and resilience (ability to bounce back quickly from set backs), which are both essential characteristics for achievement.
We cannot ignore the value of learning from failure. We also must not forget the important lessons we can learn from success.