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“THE ORIGIN OF FAILURE: Accepting Point Negatives”

Tips from a turnaround man A time and place exist where a CEO faces a crucial decision. This decision often leads down a path of great misfortune and challenges. It’s an unnecessary path, typically chosen by those seeking more, faster. Yet, there’s a trap in this relentless pursuit. ‘More’ is not ‘better’; indeed, ‘better’ is ‘better.’ In today’s fast-paced world, many forget the art of gratitude and caring for what one already possesses.

The lure of an easier path to success is tempting. We often hear stories of individuals who gained immense wealth with minimal effort. However, these stories are rare and not personally relatable. They mislead many into a futile chase, often referred to as ‘chasing the dragon.’

We then come to the Origin of Failure. It begins with a seemingly casual choice at a crossroads. Unfortunately, this choice often leads in the wrong direction. The consequences of this decision may not be immediate, but they are inevitable.

Breaching Fiduciary Duties

The core issue here is the single-minded pursuit of money, property, and prestige – in other words, power. In these scenarios, arrogance often fuels unethical behaviors like gambling, misusing corporate funds, evading taxes, engaging in inappropriate relationships, breaching fiduciary duties, and, most fundamentally, succumbing to greed.

These failures can manifest swiftly. How does one fall prey to such irresponsibility and indiscretion? It happens gradually. Consider the first drink or the first line of cocaine. It’s never just one. Small actions, like misusing a company credit card, can set a dangerous precedent. These minor missteps can culminate in a significant ethical breach for someone with great responsibility.

I refer to this as entering the ‘Black Forest.’ In this metaphorical place, false promises of hope and success abound. However, these are mere illusions, driven by greed and ego, leading to tragic failure. It’s akin to ‘dancing with the devil in the pale moonlight,’ a line from the Joker played by Jack Nicholson in one of my favorite movies, Batman.

Avoid Co-signing

Warning signs do exist. I call it ‘Co-Signing Bad Behavior.’ When faced with the temptation of quick gains – money, property, prestige – one should resist. Instead, focus on the ‘People, Places, and Things’ that require your care and responsibility. Embrace gratitude for what you have. This approach ensures organic and correct growth in both business and life.

Avoid ‘Co-Signing’ the temptations of the ‘Black Forest.’ This includes allowing alcohol on the job, engaging in seemingly innocent romantic behavior, and ignoring the small missteps that accumulate over time. These ‘Point Negatives’ may seem minor, but they add up. Eventually, they culminate in a downfall, marked by the relentless chase for material gains.

The list of seemingly minor concessions is long:

  1. Being late occasionally seems okay.
  2. Letting others take control for a while seems harmless.
  3. Issuing company credit cards appears benign.
  4. Overlooking inappropriate situations feels justifiable.
  5. Tweaking financial statements seems insignificant.
  6. Using advance payments for current debts feels practical.
  7. Underbidding with hopes for future gains seems strategic.
  8. Indulging personal whims as the boss seems rightful.
  9. Investing company funds in dubious schemes appears opportunistic.

However, these actions lead to the Black Forest and, ultimately, to the Origin of Failure. This path inevitably leads a company and its CEO to a ‘Free Fall.’ It’s like stepping off the top floor of a skyscraper. The fall may initially offer a thrilling view and a refreshing breeze. But soon, the harsh reality sets in. The fall is irreversible, leading to catastrophic consequences.


We can prevent everything up to the point of the Free Fall. Surviving such a fall is possible, but it requires immense strength to rebuild correctly. Learning from past mistakes is crucial. If fortunate enough to get a second chance, one will likely confront the Origin of Failure and personal shortcomings again. The key is to remember and choose wisely, perhaps for the last opportunity in your career.

“We can’t change our shortcomings, but we can learn to navigate around them. This learning process can lead to greatness, but only if one chooses wisely.” – Patrick Rettig

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