This morning I read a post from Tim Sackett that touched on why he thinks it’s a mistake that our society is becoming so comfortable with failure. There are a great many recent examples of this shift in our thinking: In contrast to generations past, people nowadays expound at great length upon the positive transformative effects that their spectacular (and often deeply personal) failures have had on their lives. Read the full post here.
…With that said, my initial reaction here was to completely disagree: There is a lot to be learned from unpacking why you failed… and failure is often a part of the learning and development process. To this point, if you succeed at everything on your first try you either:
A. Aren’t pushing yourself hard enough/fast enough
B. Aren’t trying very many new things
C. Are extremely fortunate
…So failure is a good thing, right? Well… kind of.
Sackett goes on to point out that failure can often have a debilitating effect on our ability to reach our potential; put another way, if one fails enough times it can do irreparable damage to his or her confidence. Sometimes, to start succeeding you need success.
For this reason, I am a huge advocate of cheap wins. I love putting myself in uncharted territory. Conversely, in between stepping out into uncharted territory (and occasionally losing my way), I always find little wins. Day to day at work, I balance out difficult conversations that have gone sideways with easier employee relations issues I know will have positive outcomes. I juggle projects with uncertain outcomes at the same time that I hit softballs out of the park. I find ways to keep reminding myself: You’re good at this, just keep going.
I also take the same approach with my direct reports and employees that I’m coaching. There are both wins and losses everyday – but I like for everyone to end every day with a win, when possible.
Ultimately, succeeding in big ways starts with believing big successes are possible. Faith is all well and good, but getting points on the board gives us 1. There is a comp lesson in here about why frequent small raises are better than less frequent, big ones, but that’s a post for another day.something real to hold onto while in the pursuit of our goals. 1
…I guess I’m trying to say that it’s good to fail… but don’t forget to succeed in between.
As always, please share your thoughts in the comments below.