on 21 Sep 2017 8:36 AM
  • business success
  • attacking symptoms
  • business and medicine
  • symptom
  • causes of failure
  • business failure
Author: Ram V. Iyer

Business people with challenges want quick symptomatic relief; consultants (experts) are happy to oblige - offer advice to ‘attack and eliminate the symptom’. This is just like many modern doctors – attack the symptom so that the patient is temporarily happy, the doctor is deemed a ‘hero’ and the insurance company pays little for symptomatic cures (usually to a pharma company). But, they don’t usually identify or tackle the root cause – that will take more effort and cost a whole lot more. The patient does not want to make the effort (too busy, need quick results, etc.) or make lifestyle changes (requires effort) that could address the root cause. The doctor does not want to ‘displease’ the patient by prolonging the symptom – by taking a long time to ‘fix’ the problem - or displease the insurance company by ‘spending more’. The insurance company would rather pay a small amount each time to the doctor and the pharmaceutical company than spend more to find and cure the root cause - being used could reflect 'usefulness' in the minds of the patients (policyholders). The pharma companies are happy dispensing symptomatic medicine and keep them coming back again and again for a lifetime.


Obviously, the re-emergence of the symptoms keeps the doctor, insurance company and pharma companies happy and the money flowing but it wastes a lot of time and resources on constantly attacking symptoms while not seeking or addressing the root cause. One-trick consultants and fad gurus are like the doctors in our analogy. They get recurring business to fix symptoms that recur - like the whack-a-mole game. The only person getting a bum deal is the patient – failing to see the obvious and failing to do what is common sense. But, since the patient is instantly happy, nobody can tell him he should be unhappy. Businesses have similar issues.


Obviously, not all patients, doctors, pharma and insurance company actions are purely symptom-focused. Similarly, neither are those of people in business. There are many people who give advice that gets to the root-cause but they tend to be fewer and less popular. Analogies like this are illustrative, not to be argued with – that misses the point.


I have succeeded and failed in business. A personal business failure made me ponder the view of most experts across the world that failure stems from what the business person LACKS – capital, talent, technology, marketing, etc. I realized that the people giving advice and the people getting advice are the smartest humans in history, and the technology and understanding of business success/failure is the most advanced in history. However, even with all the expert advice, the 70% failure rate among businesses has not changed much in years. That made me wonder about the view of experts. I realized that the foundation reasons for business failure (or lack of much success) has more to do with WHAT AN INDIVIDUAL HAS WITHIN that becomes the impediment/s and less to do with what he/she lacks externally. 


Human nature generally seeks to blame EXTERNAL circumstances, resources and outside forces for personal failures – easier than taking personal responsibility. The tendency to keep looking for others to blame prevents people from seeing the obvious or doing what is common sense – eliminate the short-sightedness and instead find and cure the root cause which is often within the person. This approach works beyond business, across every facet of your life. The moment you take personal responsibility to find and address the root causes within you, the universe starts helping you.


I have validated these findings by surveying about 350 business people, including 100 millionaires. For the statistically inclined, the Cronbach’s alpha (for reliability) is 0.9. These are insights that could make you more successful, reduce business failures, prevent the waste of precious resources and raise the standard of living across the world. Are you willing to see the obvious and doing what is common sense? If so, take the quiz, ‘Are you Wired for Business Success?’ at After you do, you will get a link to an article I wrote on the ‘silent killers of success’. This will help you get to the root causes if you are facing hurdles or failures in business. Even the most successful people can succumb to the 'silent killers of success', but the repeatedly successful ones have learn to manage these 'killers'.


P.S. I realized a rather obvious thing. Most of us read articles like this but never act on it. You can only get results when you R.A.P. – read, act and practice. I hope you R.A.P. whatever you glean from this.