Planning to Fail

At every level of engagement in your life, from business and personal relationships to the cellphone that is in your pocket, you will experience an event that can be termed a failure. Your business will encounter hardship, someone that you care for will be hurt and your cellphone will die an untimely death (maybe in a toilet, Eddie). But, we live in an imperfect world, and as a result, we will have failures. And honestly, I can’t think of a more depressing way to start off a post…

pic of a dog sad about being kicked out of the house for a home inspection

Often, the events in our life will not match our expectations and preferences, and negative emotions (disappointment, anger, resent, sadness, despair, etc.) will be the result. How we respond to these inevitable negative emotions will determine the level of success and happiness that we will experience in our lives. Some people cannot get past the negative emotions that result from failure, and spend years (or an entire lifetime) caught up in these emotions, typically to the detriment of their mental and physical health. There have been many books written about and several industries dedicated to attempting to provide care for these individuals.

However, today we are going to concentrate on the response that successful individuals have when confronted with negative emotion. How is it that some people are paralyzed their entire lives by negative emotion, but others seem able to experience, process and move past their negative situations? The key lies in your ability to see the emotions as they arrive, realize that they are a natural defense mechanism inborn within our species, experience them, figuring out how to make the best of the current situation, and make plans to move on, attempting to insulate yourself from a similar situation in the future.

If your anger stems from the fact that your laptop just died, and you realize that you just lost a year’s worth of work, this can be a stressful situation. The best response would be to realize that it is happening, experience the situation, and figure out how you could best protect yourself from a similar experience happening again. In this situation, you could sign up for an online backup service that duplicates your laptop files in the cloud, and you could implement a regimen of performing regular backups to an auxiliary drive.

The important take-away would be to have the expectation that failure will happen, and prepare for its inevitable occurrence. If you had taken those steps prior to your laptop crash, the effect of the loss would have been much less painful. We should take this same approach with our business, assuming that problems will come, realizing that this is simply a part of doing business, and attempting to implement changes to our processes that can limit the scope and frequency of those problems.

For home inspectors, this means examining the way we interact with our clients. What things can we improve in our professional interactions that can lessen the possibility of problems arising? The obvious weak points in the home inspection chain are the inspection contract and report. Do we have (and consistently use) a professionally developed home inspection contract? Does our report present a professional image? Are words correctly spelled; are items properly identified; did we cover the basic requirements; are pictures properly labeled; is the information correct? Any obvious deficiencies in your inspection report or contract can easily be used by any competent attorney to prove your lack of professionalism, and call into question your abilities as an inspector.

The prudent thing would be to review your software and reports, making improvements to them on a regular basis. If you don’t feel as though you are qualified to play English Professor with your reports, then have a friend, relative or mentor review them and offer feedback. Have your inspection agreement reviewed by an attorney or other expert, to ensure that you are protected to the fullest extent of the law. Remember that laws may vary from state to state. So, if you are using a contract that has not been reviewed by a local expert, there may be portions of your contract that will prove inadmissible in your local courts. Something as simple as having these types of errors in your contract can undermine your credibility in a court of law.

trying to stay out of court as a professional home inspector

By simply doing a little preparation and regular review, you can lower the probability of getting into misunderstandings, lessen the impact of unavoidable problems, and reduce the self-induced stress that comes from being ill-prepared for failure.

Failure.  It’s gonna happen; just be ready for it.

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Thanks, Joe

pic of me, Joseph Cook Jr, home inspector