Past obstacles and failures need to be re-assessed to get a healthy perspective of the past. Most of the time, past failures result in depression and the blues. But after looking back at the events with a more detached and experienced eye, I think the real lessons can be learned. Most projects end with a lessons learned session but this can still be too close to the actual events which make a more objective assessment difficult.
I previously was engaged in a difficult project about 4 years ago where an application was developed in a rapid and pressurized environment. I had a do the specification in a piece by piece fashion which was not the norm in our organization. Traditionally, the complete functional specification are made following a structured water-fall methodology. But the circumstances did not allow for this type of slow, structured process. So we went a head and did the project and we were heavily criticized. My assessment was not good and I suffered a bit from this experience although the application was delivered though a bit delayed.
In fact, the type of methodology is now called agile development where iterative processes are advocated instead of slow and traditional structured method. So we went through the project following an agile method following our intuition and self-organizing ourselves in this fashion to respond to the environment. Hence, we can say that we were following the methodology of the future though we and the organization did not realize at that point in time. It was a messy project but the team in fact, re-engineered an old application developed in an obsolete language and moved it into a web-based, intranet application.
I think this illustrates the importance of re-framing past experiences especially so-called failures because new developments and experiences will help us assess what really happened by using one's present knowledge and ability. Outsourcing the boss man's data warehouse as another example, is a world wide trend to foster global collaboration with external suppliers. Previously, I had thought that it was a personal failure in my part. Of course, as project manager I do share the blame but I have recovered by moving the development from the in-house team towards a more experienced and skilled outsourcing company. It was really the wave of the future experienced close hand.
Re-framing past experiencing may seem like the usual spin to improve one's reputation but, then again, one is entitled to one's viewpoint. We all have a right to express what we feel like the true course of events -> our own spin so to speak. But the pain and suffering has already occurred and this exercise is more like a recovery operation where one takes time to understand the past events and move forward with a better understanding of the past and make us a better person that is able to handle future assignments. Reading the latest literature like 'Wikinomics' also helps in understanding the future to know more of the past.