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There is a huge difference between training and trying. The dictionary tells us that trying is “an attempt or effort to do something” whilst training is “being taught through sustained practice and instruction”. At Hobbs Sinclair we are a training institution. We have training contracts, a full-time training officer and a training programme that analyses needs and plans for the instruction of every employee.

When we encounter failure it is important that we understand that failure is critical to the training process. The Stormers recently played a great game, but lost the match. Why? Well, a moment of ill-discipline in the closing minutes of the match cost us a penalty and took the opponents into the lead by one point for the final whistle. Do we expect the Stormers now to withdraw from Super Rugby? No way! We expect them to take what was encouraging out of the match (the great defensive work), coach this week to build on all aspects of their fitness and skills and, importantly, focus on discipline on the field to avoid a repeat infringement in the coming game.

The professional environment is extremely challenging. Tax law is changing all the time, as is Revenue Practice. International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) are complex and awkward to apply. We have a new Companies Act, with new case law and judgements being released on a daily basis. To keep track of all this, apply it appropriately and keep our clients appraised of all these changes and challenges is a Herculean task. Of course, from time to time, we drop a catch and “fail”.

We know that mistakes happen, it’s part of life. Why then the big deal when we find a mistake? Well, we need to know what went wrong so that we can put in place the quality control processes to prevent it from happening again and apply training programmes to equip our staff properly in their professional careers.

Failure is not fatal, it is a great teacher and we need to respect it as such. We cannot “try” to be good professionals, we have to “train” for it. That is why SAICA and CIMA require a period under training before admitting us to our respective professional bodies.

So let us embrace our failures, because they instruct us in how to train to be competent professionals.


Neill Hobbs

Partner, Hobbs Sinclair Chartered Accountants

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