It's the one we fear most
1 minute read
Failure: It’s the most reviled f-word in our vocabulary. No one wants to acknowledge or experience it, yet failure is one of our greatest allies and best teachers. How much greater might our businesses and relationships be if we weren’t afraid to fail? What would our own personal world look like if we took bigger risks?
Many people and businesses choose not to live up to their potential because they’re afraid of failing but there are many blessings that failure can bring: greater innovation; new pathways to success; grand epiphanies. And then there's COVID-19...
When I talk about celebrating failure, I’m not condoning laziness or a lack of professionalism or a pandemic that came out of nowhere and wreaked havoc. No good comes from patting yourself on the back for missing deadlines, lacking follow-through, being distracted by a multitude of “good-on-paper” ideas or wishing things would go back to the way they were before the pandemic. I’m talking about great ideas with even greater execution that – despite all your blood, sweat and tears -- fail anyway.
It’s pretty much universal knowledge that in order for a muscle to become strong, it has to first be torn down. Many athletes train to the point of muscle “failure” – pushing the body relentlessly until it can temporarily no longer function. Although it sounds unpleasant, pushing a body to that ledge – then over it – is exactly what’s required to summon strength from collapse. Applying this metaphor to all our other failures might help us see past our present disappointments to all the possibilities on the path ahead.
What would you do if you knew you could not fail? Henry Ford forgot to put the reverse gear in the first car he made, and yet it all worked out for him. Abraham Lincoln had a spectacular track record of loss before he was elected president at age 52 and went on to define greatness in American history. Defeat is a detour, not a dead end. This Japanese proverb says it all: “Fall down seven times. Get up eight.” And now with COVID-19, we all have a chance to completely re-invent the ways in which we do business. In fact, we don't have a choice.
This is a time for bold and innovative thinking, doing and -- yes -- failing. But it won't be the end. It will simply be a step on the way to success and a new way of working that -- believe it or not -- may be better than what we were doing before.
Do you have a “failure narrative,” a story about how failing at one thing led to success at another? Share with us!