Where Would We Be Without Failure?

by | Jul 7, 2022 | Leadership Coaching, Personal Development

A good friend and successful, high-ranking nonprofit leader recently said to me, “where would we be without failure?” 

Our failures are gifts if we are willing to see them as such.

We learn a lot more from our failures than from our successes. 

Don’t believe me? There are countless stories of great business leaders who failed repeatedly before they succeeded, including Milton Hershey, Vera Wang, and Jeff Bezos. 

Learning from our failures is one of the most important skills we can master. 

When we fail, we naturally ask ourselves what went wrong. We analyze, course correct, and find another way.

Failure inspires us to new levels of creativity, helps us learn who to trust (or to trust ourselves), and teaches us to become more resilient. Failure produces motivation, inspiration, and tenacity. All these are important traits we need as business leaders.

Do we ask ourselves what went right when we succeed? Probably not. We keep moving ahead at breakneck speed.

Success can cause us to feel more confident in our abilities, overestimate our forecasts, take more risks in the future and overestimate our chances of repeat success. We may dismiss new information or incorrectly interpret customer feedback.

When something happens that makes us feel like we failed, if we get fired, for example, it’s easy for us to look for blame. 

But what if failure really wasn’t a failure at all? 

What if getting fired opened a door that led us to a career that was a much better fit for us? Getting fired could turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to us.

My greatest opportunities and greatest joys happened after I experienced a failure. Now I don’t even consider those speed bumps to be failures at all. They were more like redirections. Redirections that I’m so grateful for.

Why is failure analysis shortchanged? Because examining our failures is emotionally unpleasant and it can chip away at our self-esteem. Most of us avoid failure analysis altogether.

A culture where we admit and report on failure can coexist with high standards for performance.

At the leading edge of our personal or organizational growth, the right kind of experimentation produces good failures quickly. 

Failures can be useful, because they supply new knowledge that can help us leap ahead of the competition and ensure future growth.

What have been my greatest successes? I don’t know, but I can remember and have learned a lot more from my screwups and misses.

Feeling stuck? Reach out!

If you’re feeling stuck because you’re focused on your failures, please reach out. Schedule a complimentary call or email me