Howdy, all. I trust you’re well as summer takes hold of
Central and South Texas.
I came across two
quotes recently, two quotes that reminded me of an encounter I had with my
The first quote is
from Colin Powell. He shared that “There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work,
and learning from failure.”
The second quote is
from Bill Gates. He shared that “It's fine to celebrate success but it is more
important to heed the lessons of failure.”
And what of
from an Army deployment in March 2000 to discover I had a new boss’ boss, the Deputy
Commanding General for the Army’s III Corps. At the appointed time I visited with him to discuss my unit and my
goals. First, we discussed me. As a proud dad I bragged about my two
children. To my glowing report about my
daughter the Deputy CG asked if she had ever failed. I swelled up and said, “no.” He said, “oh, too bad.’
What is it about
failure that makes us shy away from it? And what is it about failure that makes us want to take the easy road to
ensure we don’t fail?
I believe the basis
for our fear of failure is rooted in the lack of permission to fail. Occasionally our managers and leaders don’t give
us permission to try something that may lead to a failure. Occasionally we don’t give ourselves the
permission to try something that may lead to a failure. On both accounts we are shortchanging our
organizations, our beneficiaries, our stakeholders, and ourselves.
What to do?
that you must try new things if you or the organization expect to move
forward. Continuing to do something just
because that’s what has always been done and because it’s the comfortable route, it
is not going to lead to new successes.
Second, accept that
failure happens. You and your
subordinates are not alone. We all try
and occasionally, we all fail. That’s
the course of getting better. For leaders, we must underwrite our people’s efforts even if the occasional failure
is the result. We too, learn from
quality time and a lot of it, planning and considering the effort you’re
intending to take. The time spent on
thinking through the second and third order effects will greatly reduce the
possibility of those effects happening. Include these effects and your plans to mitigate them, when briefing
your effort to your people and to your boss.
Fourth, work hard
at developing lessons from the failure. What
went right? Where did things go
wrong? What could you or your people
have done differently? What personal and
professional lessons did you come away with?
spend a lot of time regretting and reconsidering the failure. Once you learn from it, it’s time to move
on. Like a car in your rear-view mirror,
you need to know it’s there and its implications by being there; but the car is
driven through the windscreen.
We all want to
succeed and excel, with every project and with every decision. But sometimes our best plans take a detour,
or an external influence causes a problem. Okay, got it. You maximized the
planning, you minimized the impact, and now you’re going to learn and move on.
Best wishes for every future success.
For Leaders Who Care!