By Peter Jeff
The Leadership Mints Guy
Here’s an idea to leverage the positive affects of failure. Reading time: 3:42
Failure isn’t for failures. It’s for leaders who realize that failure is part and parcel of success.
You can’t have one without the other. Success comes BECAUSE OF –not in spite of–failure.
Rowland Macy founded the Macy’s department store in 1858 after failing at seven previous attempts to open a dry goods store.
Louis Meyer founded MGM in 1924 from three companies that had failed, including his own.
And Henry Ford built his first car 15 years after he failed at building a mechanical plow. Ford said: “Failure is not failure, but the opportunity to begin again, more intelligently.”
Scrabble players, know their popular board game was invented by an unemployed architect and a stockbroker who had failed during the Depression.
To the most effective leaders, Failure is a chance to learn and begin again–a commencement not a finale.
Failure even attracts learning leaders to an annual conference dedicated to learning from Failure, a conference where the participants subscribe to the premise that FAIL is an acrostic that means First Attempt In Learning.
Learning from Failure
Learning leaders from technology entrepreneurs, investors to developers, and designers gather at FailCon to study “their own and others’ failures and prepare for success,” according to their website.
No wonder failure isn’t for failures. It’s preparing for success.
“Failure is, in a sense, the highway to success,” as poet John Keats observed, “Every discovery of what is false leads us to seek earnestly after what is true. And every fresh experience points out some form of error which we shall afterward carefully avoid.”
Failures are learnings that lead to future earnings. Malcom Forbes said “failure is success if we learn from it.”
In fact, failures are something leaders endear not endure. Failures are something of a blessing not something embarrassing. As Sir Winston Churchill observed:
“Success is your ability
to go from failure to failure
without losing your enthusiasm.”
Failure gives you another chance to take a chance; to review and revise what you have done to do it better the next time. As Walter Wriston, former Citicorp chairman, noted failure is not a crime, but “failure to learn from failure is.”
Thomas Edison revised his approach, learning through nearly 12,000 failures how to find the right filament to invent the light bulb.
No wonder that processing of learning over and over again what doesn’t work imbeds Failure in the memory long after Success has gone to sleep.
That’s why Failure sticks deep in our craw and goads us on to a more well-developed, strategic performance the next time.
With Failure comes opportunity to redeem yourself, to do it right this time. No wonder author Truman Capote called failure the:
“Condiment that gives
success its flavor.”
Failure keeps you on your toes. No matter how often you step on someone else’s toes or trip over their feet and fall down. As Tom Watson, founder of IBM, said:
“If you want to succeed,
double your failure rate.”
Abraham Lincoln failed eight times to win elected office– including campaigns as Congressman, two campaigns for Senator and a bid for Vice President over the previous 12 years– before becoming President of the United States.
Failure isn’t for failures. Consider these failure-prone leaders in major league baseball history.
Reggie Jackson struck out 661 times, more than any other player in his 21 year professional baseball career; however, he also hit 563 home runs, ranking sixth among top home run hitters.
Nolan Ryan lead the major leagues in giving up the most walks by a pitcher, before he set the record for pitching the most strikeouts in major league baseball history.
And Rickey Henderson set a major league baseball record for stolen bases. He also set the record for most times thrown out trying to steal.
So take heart the next time you fail, knowing that failure isn’t for failures.
Failure is a learning tool – a stepping stool specially designed for you to get a broader more viable vantage point; a stepping stool for you to get above the fray to see more creative options to solve problems, a stepping stool exclusively developed over time.
For leaders to step up.
Learn from failure to keep your leadership thinking in mint condition.
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