Tuesday, December 20, 2011

I Can't Wait to Fail...Again

No, I'm not crazy. At least I don't think I am. But I do know this...when I fail I do a hell of a lot of learning. It's not that I look forward to things going poorly or letting down my various customer groups. But the reality is sometimes I fail. Sometimes we all fail. So I've decided that I need to stop worrying about it, and start embracing the learning that follows. Here's the catch, the only way you can take something positive from failure is if you admit that you've failed. If you're one of those leaders who is constantly making excuses for why things didn't work out I need to tell you something...

You're the problem, not the people, or systems, or circumstances. It's you.

Get In The Game
Let's be honest. Failure is no fun. It can be embarrassing, raise concerns about competence, and in extreme cases put one's job at risk. But the truth is we fail all the time. Think about how many ideas you've had over the last year. Did every strategy work out perfectly? Did you achieve every earnings goal, turnover rate, hiring target, expense reduction plans, or sales quota? Of course not.

Here's how I look at failure. I tried something. I took action. I moved out of my comfort zone and went for it. Standing still out of fear means the rest of the world just roared by and you missed countless opportunities to contribute. Don't be that person. Be the one that steps into the fast lane and holds on for dear life. It's what leaders do.

How About You 
Don't settle, don't get comfortable, and for crying out loud don't let 2011 end without you having failed at something. No one is that good.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of yourfreegraphics


  1. Most innovation does fail and people who accept that are much more innovative than people who don't. I think you hit the nail on the head saying it's better to admit failure and learn from it than make excuses, which no one actually buys anyway.

  2. You do learn more from failure than success. For instance many people don't remember Michael Jordan and Bulls lost for several years in row before finally winning their first 3 rings. Also they had an embarrassing playoff lost to the Magic before winning the 2nd set of rings.

  3. I saw an interview with John Lasseter, Chief Creative Officer at Pixar and he was describing the risk-taking culture created at Pixar. What really caught my ear was when he said something to the effect of “You are going to fail. Fail fast”. It makes sense. Take the risk. Either it works or it doesn’t. Just keep moving. We only make progress when we move forward. Choosing the safe road and the same path only gets us to the same places we’ve been before.
    Lots of platitudes floating in my head now.
    “I took the road less travelled and that has made all the difference.”
    “The turtle only makes progress when he sticks out his neck”
    “Fall seven times. Stand up eight.”

    Link to article: http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118007794

  4. Laura, Chris, Jen - many thanks for the comments. I agree with you all. However, it now occurs to me that without a corporate culture that not only accepts failure but promotes it as well, there will never the the level of risk-taking necessary to ultimately achieve success. A post for another day!