Monday, August 22, 2016

The Failure Conundrum

There are a lot of mixed messages out there around the concept of failure. 
  • Business gurus direct entrepreneurs to 'Fail Fast' or to 'Fail Often'
  • We are told that from 'Big' Risks come 'Big' Rewards
  • Or that 'If you're not Failing, then you're not Trying'
All of which would indicate that failing, in its many forms, can have a positive impact and may, at times, even be desirable. Certainly when we are talking about the personal growth and development of ourselves, or our people, there is a lot of learning that takes place through failure; through trial and error.  

The dilemma though is that in most organizations failure has consequences. Companies want employees to take risks, because they don't get ahead if you don't, but you'd better not mess anything up when you do! Companies may spout rhetoric around being accepting of failure but systemically not prove supportive.

We want our children to build a life around their strengths and talents, but then studiously avoid letting them know when they lack skill or need improvement.  Instead, we over-emphasize how 'good' they are at something, leaving them with an over-inflated view of their skills. We develop a culture that says it should be enough that they 'want' it or that they 'tried'. The actual outcome of the effort doesn't matter as much as the fact that they made an effort. The concept of failure is foreign because the word itself was avoided.

The conundrum... We are told that failure can be a good thing, but taught to avoid it at all costs.

How then do we build a successful company, a successful life if we don't make allowances for failure? If we don't build in an understanding and acceptance of the lessons that come with failing, then we are doing our children, ourselves and our companies a disservice.  

Failure helps build resiliency.
Failure helps build perseverance.
Failure helps build strength.
Failure helps build success.

The key to making the above statements true, of course, is that you learn from your mistakes. Each failure must teach you something, must result in your modifying your approach to help you reach success. 
All great successes are preceded by a series of failures

To help you ensure that you are growing from your failures, ask yourself the following...
  • What has this failed attempt taught me?
  • What might I try differently as a result?
  • What further support, information, skill might I need?
And if you find that you haven't failed at anything recently...
  • Is there something I am hesitating trying because I am concerned about the possibility of failing?
  • Where might I push my skills even further?
  • What new challenges can I set for myself?
  • What am I interested in learning?
Regardless of what anyone says, there are winners and losers, successes and failures.  In the end, these are just labels. What's important to remember is not whether you lost or failed, but what you did with that experience. What you learn from it is what will determine what you earn from it. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

This blog is all about and for you! I welcome your comments, criticisms, added thoughts and insights. Feel free to share openly with everyone here on the blog but know that if you want to share something directly with me, you can do so by emailing me.