Show me someone who’s had no failure and I’ll show you someone who’s less than honest with themselves. I certainly have had my fair share of failures. For instance, for some crazy reason I thought it would be a peachy idea to go out for the volleyball team my first year of college. Now mind you I’m all of 5’2″ tall. What the heck was I thinking? How in the world would I be able to perform a net spike over someone who is 5’10”? But I went to every practice, jumped as high as my short little frame would allow, and gave it everything I had. Alas, I failed to make the team.
Then I proceeded to do what seems to come naturally to a lot of us. I had a little pity party for myself. I was angry at the coach for not seeing how hard I had worked. I was angry at the other girls for being so darn tall. I was angry that I received my mother’s “short” genes rather than my father’s “tall” genes. Oh, the unfairness of it all!
Looking back on that time I have to laugh. How naive I was. I wasted a lot of time figuring out that petite girls are generally not well suited for volleyball, and even more time dealing with the hit to my self esteem. For a while I carried that failure around like an anchor. It kept me stationary, unable to move forward towards new goals and aspirations.
In the business world our failures can have the same impact. They can make us question our own abilities, make us indecisive, and they can make us avoid any and all risk. And, they can hang around our necks like anchors prohibiting our growth. So how can we effectively deal with failure? Does it have to be an anchor? Or can it be an educator? Here are a few things I’ve learned:
- Failure in life is inevitable. We can’t possibly be good at everything. Accept it.
- Excel at what you are good at. Give it your all. The rest can be delegated or outsourced.
- When you do fail ask yourself what you’ve learned from the experience. Think of it as an educational opportunity for growth.
- Be responsible for your failure. A willingness to take responsibility allows your employees to see you as human and builds respect and trust.
- And last, but not least, learn to forgive yourself for your failures. If you’ve learned something from a failure you can avoid it in the future and better your odds for success in the future.
If you’d like to share a story about how you’ve been educated by failure I’d love to hear about it. Simply comment in the space provided below.