3 Ways to Fail Successfully
Some failures are useful, but not all.
Failure is useless when caused by…
- Lack of effort.
- Intentional deviation.
Deal quickly and firmly with useless failure.
Useful failure teaches you what isn’t working.
The sooner you accept what isn’t working, the sooner you can change trajectory.
Success teaches you what to repeat; failure what to change.
5 benefits of failure:
- Vulnerability. Healthy failure strengthens connections by opening hearts.
- Honesty. “I screwed up,” is a moment of profound honesty, as long as it isn’t followed with, “but…”
- Responsibility. How will you own your failure? Learning begins when you take responsibility, not until.
- Flexibility. What will you do differently next time?
- Reflection. Perhaps the greatest opportunity of failure is reflection. Rather than closing down, open up.
3 positive uses of failure:
- Inspiration. Inspire others by flaunting the failures you have overcome. You’re uninspiring if your life has been easy.
- Insight. You see strategies and practices that don’t work.
- Development. Failure identifies skill gaps and wrong beliefs.
3 ways to fail successfully:
- Ask “what” not “who.” “What” is about learning. “Who” is about blaming.
- Dig into failure – reject generalities. Look for specific practices that cause failure, for example.
- Explore what didn’t happen.
The sooner you face failure, the sooner you can find success. The longer you hide failure, the worse it gets.
How might leaders fail successfully?
..and not all failure has the same implications, seeing big things as big and small things as small, helps in perspective, balance, and moving forward.
Very thought provoking. Thanks for always sharing your keen insight. Growth really does takes place when we genuinely analyze and learn from past failures.
Very thought provoking. Thanks for always sharing your keen insight. Growth really does take place when we genuinely analyze and learn from past failures.
That is the truth! We raise money for a hospital – failure on the hospital side means something much different than failure on the fundraising side. We are still learning how to talk about failures with our hospital colleagues so that they understand it isn’t probably as catastrophic as what they face in their work, and that failure can have value and meaning for us.
Make sure failure is an option. The “fail often, fail fast, fail early” model isn’t acceptable everywhere.
If your failure is likely to result in death or major bodily injury to somebody, there’s a fair chance you will never be given another opportunity to get it right.
If you are in a field where customers know and talk to one another, regular failure may taint your reputation.
Nowadays, Edison wouldn’t get a job carrying the mail in a scientific organisation: he wouldn’t get the third chance, never mind the thousandth. Where risks are high and margins are low, failing often can sink you.
Good morning Dan;
As you are aware Dan, in December of 2012, my organizations Top Leader invited me to spearhead the ‘re-design’ of our statewide departments Leadership Development Training Programs. Myself and my partner were to be part of a Focus Group which was to assemble in early 2013. As time would reveal, there were powerful authority figure’s behind the scene’s that did not subscribe to my brand of leadership, (Character-Based Leadership). These folks were very happy with the way things had been and went to great length’s in an attempt to keep things as they were. ‘Their’ leadership style is Autocratic. They have the power, they have the authority, they make ALL the decisions. While protecting their position of authority at all cost. That cost came in the form of Defamation of Character as my character, reputation, and a glowing 20 year career was dismissed . These people did their best to convince others I was not worthy. For a while, (3 years), they successfully kept me from being involved, “on an official level.” Little did they know, this did not dissuade me from my vision. I continued on my mission, worked hard, and completed the 1st installment of our new Character-Based Leadership Development Program for Entry Level Leaders.
As time passed it revealed the true selfish agenda of these leaders. One of these individuals was been terminated, two others have since been transferred. It took only two days after these folks left that I was invited back to the table.
Being a ‘low-level leader’, many believed I was not worthy due simply to my position. Few were aware of my past working history, or my knowledge of leadership or the fact that I’ve have been speaking publicly on the topic for the better part of my adult life.
As the month’s turned into years it became apparent that my so called critics had ‘no intention’ of giving up. It was at that point that people became curious, they wanted to know exactly what it was I was asked to do and why ‘I’ was asked. I began to be questioned about my past and the positions of leadership I had held during my working life. An undeniable amount of support for my endeavor began to rise. People wanted to know what this ‘Character-Based Leadership’ was all about. Suddenly folks began to campaign on my behalf to see this thing to fruition.
Soon the first installment of our New Leadership Development Training Programs will be signed into effect. I sincerely believe had I not faced the adversity I had while remaining true to myself and my leadership beliefs, I would not have won the support of my subordinate’s, peer’s, and superiors. These circumstances come to prove that at time’s people really don’t care how much you know, “until they know how much you care.”
Having the where-with-all to stick to your belief’s, your values and ethic’s when your the ‘odd man out’, is an uncomfortable position. But it reveals your commitment in an undeniable way that others can’t dispute.
Adversity is rarely welcomed, nor is it enjoyable to experience. But it reveals your true character to others and your commitment to doing what you believe in your heart is rite & true. Especially when doing the right thing has ‘Negative consequences’!
I identify with dealing with the directive, do-what-I-say, lock-em-up style of some in government/law enforcement. Fortunately, a lot of those folks are moving on, and a new generation that, by the numbers, believes in justice for all and true service to our teams, communities and country. Our time is coming, Steve! 🙂
Meant to say a new generation is moving into the industries to replace the old guard etc.
Good morning Emily;
I perceive you posses a bit of ‘inside-knowledge’ where Corrections & Law Enforcement in the Commonwealth are concerned. I to share your sentiments in regard to seeing a dramatic change or shift if you will, relative to acceptable Leadership style’s.
I have always believed that, “The right thing to do, is still the right thing to do. (even when no one believes it), consequently, the wrong thing to do is still the wrong thing to do, (even when everyone believes it)…”
Leadership is all about ‘Servant-ship’, (Putting the needs of others before your own). When you put “People 1st”, you get the best they have to offer. The really great thing about this way of thinking, this way of living is it’s principals are equally universal in our families, churches, and communities.
I agree Emily, “our time IS coming.” I just wish it would’ve gotten here long before I am so close to retirement. Oh well, Kudo’s and best of luck to the next generation!!!
“Thanks for commenting!”
Optimists are right. And so are pessimists. The same is true of those who fail vs. those who consider themselves failures. If we THINK we are or are not, we’re right!
There’s a distinction between failing and failure. Most people think of “failing” as the opposite of success. It’s not, just like the opposite of love is not hate: It’s silence or indifference.
Success consists of going from failing to failing without loss of enthusiasm. The real problem is with the word “failure”—as it connotes one is a loser, and losers don’t succeed or win the pot of gold or whatever it is we want. As a result, many people would rather play it safe, not take chances, not explore, and will not stick their neck out to try anything.
Those who understand that “failing” is inextricably linked with achievement are the ones who ultimately succeed. Learn to fail, or fail to learn.
Unfortunately, we pay a heavy price for our fear of failing…of failure. It is a powerful obstacle to growth. It assures the progressive narrowing of our personality and prevents exploration and experimentation. There is no learning without some difficulty and fumbling. If we want to keep on learning, we must keep on risking–all our life.
Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failings, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat. The fact is “failure” defeats losers, but “failing” inspires winners.
The Most High says His children are born to be the most blessed. Yet, when we accept ourselves as failures and losers, we put a period…where God puts a comma.
Really nice reflection on failure. Thank you.
Two quotes really hit me in this post! The first one (“Success teaches you what to repeat; failure what to change.”) is so clear and puts the right emphasis on failure. The only caution is this: Since we cannot know everything about an event, ‘success’ has a confidence level uncertainty with it; we have to expect that ‘what to repeat’ won’t work at some point!
The other quote (“Ask “what” not “who.” “What” is about learning. “Who” is about blaming.”) is also so clear / fundamentally sound. It does no one any good whatsoever when we blame them for anything but lack of effort. Asking ‘what’ in a conversation with them helps everyone understand the issues in order to improve. Barring some very good reason (which still should be raised ahead of any effort), lack of effort is unacceptable. There can be good reasons…
Intentional deviation was the most powerful two words yet! It fits everything we know to be right, of value, morally right, yet we choose the lesser. Wow. Thanks. This will stick with me for a long time and be shared just as much.
This is wonderful. We have a saying at my office, “Fail Harder.”
As long as failure is not caused by a malicious act, it is ok to fail!