Don’t Be Afraid Of Failure
I try to surround myself with successful people, knowledgeable mentors and experienced entrepreneurs. The basic idea is to learn from people around me. More than just their secret formula to success, I want to learn what drives these people to go beyond their potentials. One common attribute that they share is their fearless attitude - especially towards failure.
Failure is an opportunity to deliver better results
I got the chance to talk to Bong, the head of the technical department of a leading amusement industry player in the Philippines. I was amazed at how innovative and creative the game machines that they produced. Apart from going beyond the international standards, the technical team was able to pull down production costs while increasing the number of outputs. It’s no easy feat for any company.
The simple question was how they did this. The response I got was not what I was expecting. He bluntly said, “We had to fail miserably several times” in the past. Every time Bong hears the phrase, “failure is not an option” he can’t help but smile. He confidently said that with the right mindset, failure is an opportunity to deliver better results.
Failure gives you direction
There was a time when I had a chance to have lunch with the CEO of a Real Estate company. Linda has been in the business for more than 50 years now. We were talking about a customer service and sales training I was designing for her company. In a testing way, she asked me what I can teach her considering she was already in the business even before I was born. I asked her if she had an email address. She quickly replied yes, I have an executive assistance looking after it. Then I asked her about Facebook, twitter, LinkedIn and other social media sites. She answered none. Then I smiled and told her that this was a good reason why I should do this training. Times are changing, the methods are evolving. As such skills and know-how must change with it.
She admitted that her failure to adapt to technology limited her. Worse, she dragged her company’s sales and marketing efforts down. Before we finished the main course, she blurted out that it was about time to make the needed changes. Then she said something truly unforgettable: “Failure to do something clearly shows what direction to take”.
Failure puts one’s accountability in check
In a Manager’s Mental Attitude Training I conducted, I met Chris, a manager handling a relatively large division. In the training, we had an exercise where everyone talked about the greatest failures they had. It so happened, Chris was facing a dip in his sales output and there is so much pressure on his shoulders. During the exercise, one part was to jot down the possible reasons for the failure. So he scribbled as the others did. The training went well. But the real astonishing event happened several days after the training. I got a call from Chris wanting to meet with me. So I indulged. He brought out a piece of paper and slowly unfolded it. He said that the exercise we had a few days back kept bugging him. He wanted to fix his situation so he reviewed what he wrote. He turned the paper to face me and I began to read. On his pad, he wrote 6 items. All of which, started with “They did” or “They did not”. I brought my gaze back at him and he was smiling. “Do you see the problem?" he asked. Without even waiting for an answer from me, he exuberantly exclaimed, I’m the problem. As a manager and leader, I failed to accomplish my accountability. I simply relied on others to do my work. Of course he said it in a more passionate and eloquent way.
Success offers us a euphoric state that lifts any person. But failure often results in seeking faults of others. Chris was different. His failure prompted him to look within and renew his commitment to his subordinates and to his company. More importantly, he gained his confidence back in spite of the failures he faced.
Of course, we want success. In most anything we do, we strive for a positive outcome. However, there will be times when failure hits us hard and fast. At times it crawls slowly and silently that we don’t recognize it until it’s too late. Regardless of how it engulfs us and our business, we must not fear it. Rather, we must learn from it.
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