We often spend our lives trying to avoid failure. On the surface that makes sense, failure hurts. It can be the source of much pain and frustration. On the other hand, it is also the source of all learning and progress. Think about anything you are good at. I can guarantee you weren’t good at it when you started. You failed yourself to greatness. From tying your shoe to practicing medicine, to running your business. The reason you are good is because you failed and then learned from your failures. What is failure and why does it take place? It’s to teach us. It’s fundamental to every learning experience. It provides us with feedback and learning. More importantly, it provides us with experience and motivation to do better in the future.
The crazy thing about failure is that the failure itself has little consequence. It’s the meaning we give it. We either make it our enemy or our friend. We both learn from it and allow it to lead us towards our goals or we give it a different meaning and let it rule us and move us further from our goals. It’s up to us to decide. Failure will happen either way but it is the meaning that we give it and what we choose to focus on that will determine our future and our destiny. What most people do is concentrate on all the negative things about failure.
Why did I do that?
Why did I let this happen?
Why did I not see that coming?
The other side of failure is to analyze what we did wrong, what’s working, what’s not working, and what should we do differently going forward. That’s how we make failure our ally. Our success is predicated on how many times we are willing to fail, then brush ourselves off, get back up, and fail again. Can we do that enough to be successful? That is the only question. Failure is a fundamental part of success.
Look at anyone who is successful and you will see someone who is not afraid to fail. Find someone who is super successful and you found someone who is not afraid to fail in a big way. The correct response to failure is to learn from it. It is to see it for what it is and to use it as a tool. The bigger the goal, the bigger the risk of failure. You must make yourself and your organization be able to respond to failure in the way it was meant to be used, as a tool for the future.
Here are some steps to use it as it was meant to be used:
- Do a post mortem. What went wrong? Why did we not get the result we were hoping for? Avoid placing blame on people. Instead, talk about what we could have done differently.
- Plan how to use this lesson to be successful in the future. What can we do differently? What processes do we need to put in place so this never happens again?
- What did we do right? How can we do more of that and less of what made us fail?
- Remind ourselves that we are warriors. We own this and we can do this.
- Create a new plan and go take massive action to make it successful.
Living Every Minute,