We all fail. It’s a simple fact of life and sometimes it’s not an easy pill to swallow. The question is, what do you do AFTER you’ve experienced a “failure”?
This question was addressed during September’s Educational event, Navigating Failure, at the Le Meridien Hotel, presented by Richard Cox Braden, Founder of People Rocket and Lecturer at Stanford University Graduate School of Business. I’d love to share a few things that I took away from this very eye opening session.
Richard posed the question “What is failure?” and expected answers voiced were things like “Not reaching your goal” and “The inability to complete a task”. It’s natural to consider failure in a negative connotation, and sometimes it truly is. You put salt in a recipe instead of sugar or tried to drive 50 miles when you only had 40 miles worth of gas…Yes, EPIC fails. But the greatest innovations in our time would not have come to life had it not been for failure. The light bulb, the airplane, even the Post It Note, all born out of the inventors stretching themselves and making countless attempts at reaching their objective while “failing” along the way.
So how do we change the negative perspective in failure? Richard suggest this can be done through deliberate practice. To succeed through failure, you need to “fail forward”. Pay attention to the things that don’t work, and learn from them, improve them and don’t give up. You might even consider creating a “Failure Resume” by asking yourself (at least) these 3 questions:
- What you were trying to accomplish?
- What was the failure?
- What did you learn?
Richard noted that in science, unexpected results = data and for me, this puts a positive spin on many of the failures I’ve had in my past.
So, what was my take away from this valuable 1.5 hours? Don’t be so hard on yourself the next time you “fail”, but rather study your data, learn and use the opportunity to fail forward.
Adrienne Fisher, CMP, CTSM
Executive Director, Corporate Events
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