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  • It’s essential to recognize that there is no A for effort. As the comic strip Dilbert constantly reminds us, people advance in the corporate world for a variety of reasons, many of which may be unrelated to actual performance. To their credit, some companies even reward employees for daring to undertake an innovative initiative that fails. (In these cases, they are wisely betting on the value of the experience and learning that the employee gained during this process.)

    The start-up world is, in this regard, far more absolute and far more Darwinian. This book repeatedly discusses methods for mitigating risk. But after you’ve built in as much protection as possible, whatever risk remains is something that you must own completely. In corporate life, it may be acceptable to say, “My sales did not meet quota because my largest account went bankrupt.” In a go-it-alone endeavor, you can succeed only by taking responsibility for dependence on a large account that went bankrupt. The exciting part of the effort is that you can capture the full rewards of everything that happens to you. The downside is that you must take responsibility for everything that happens to you.

    In Failing Forward, John Maxwell amplifies this idea. Maxwell’s theme is that failures are inevitable and that what distinguishes achievers from everyone else is their attitude toward failures and their ability to learn from them. He writes: “The only way to exit the failure freeway and see the new territory of achievement is to take full responsibility for yourself and your mistakes. . . . Take a hard look at a very recent failure that you have considered not to be your fault. Look for anything negative in the failure that you should claim responsibility for. Then own it.”

    When you go-it-alone, you must make the jump from blame to responsibility. When problems occur in your business (and they assuredly will), it ultimately does not matter why they happened. You must to take responsibility for them to make the business succeed.

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GO IT ALONE! Copyright 2004 by Bruce Judson. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.