All of us fuck up. All of us has a proclivity to mess up the trajectory of our lives in the most catastrophic manner. None of us leads an unblemished life. Failure is like a land mine where we constantly try and tip-toe carefully from one clear patch of land to the next trying to make it to the other unscathed. But no matter how we instinctually try to avoid it, it just blows right in your face and before you know it, you’re hurtling towards failure at the speed of light. As a leader, a manic overachiever and perfectionist, it can be debilitating and frustrating when you fail to meet your own expectations of yourself and of others.
In a world where failure is an ineluctable norm, here are a few ways on how you can leverage failure to drive innovation and future success in your organization.
Be kind to yourself – As a leader, we are often expected to be an emotionless automaton when we enter the workforce. Mediocrity feels like a sin against the bustling activities of modernity. If we fall short on our responsibilities, we gave ammunition to our negative thought patterns and we’re rapidly becomes a subject to stigmatization by our own conscience. This can cause us to fall of the wagon, be paralyzed and be stuck in a dark place with the all-consuming despair, flagellation and self-loathing. This is where you rise from that sad subterranean slump you’ve fallen into, act as your own parent and allow yourself to feel compassion for yourself. Self-compassion doesn’t mean you’re not going to hold yourself accountable. It’s understanding the full range of why you failed and learning from it. It’s awakening yourself from your self-destructive habits. It’s recognizing your self-defeating patterns and taking the necessary steps to build healthy ones. It’s adopting a less cruel and more generous perspective of yourself and giving yourself a break once in a while.
Reduce the fear of failure among employees – Failure is an everyday reality leaders and members of the team have to address. If managed correctly, it can be a catalyst for resiliency in your organization. But fear of failure stifles an organization’s capacity to innovate, take risks, expand their creativity, and fully engage their workforce which consequently compromises their chance to succeed.
Reflect thoughtfully, thoroughly, openly and honestly on their underlying causes so you can craft better strategies going forward
Engage with your employees – Envision your employees as willing to dedicate greater effort to your mission once they feel more connected to it, inspired by it, and freer to contribute to it without fear of recrimination or ridicule if they fail occasionally despite their best efforts.
A clear, unashamed & honest apology – A prerequisite of a good and honest apology is therefore a sound sense of self, peace of mind and a clear conscience. You can fail and still have integrity and dignity. Apologizing can’t give back lost profit and wasted time. What’s done is done and worrying about it is a waste of time. The most useful thing you can do, to express your maturity and competence, is to focus on the areas that you can control right now, get back to your desk, remain confident and hopeful and keep going.
Failure is a quintessentially personal, painful, and emotional experience that every human being goes through but no one wants to talk about. Because of this, it can be so difficult to address. But failure doesn’t have to be feared or tabooed, it needs to be respected and understood if it is to be put to work effectively. In a world where failure is a part of everyday reality, in order to adapt, most organizations must rise to a new level of risk-taking, experimentation, and tolerance for failure but it’s also essential to think critically if you want your organization to flourish.
You may also want to read: Being a Better Networker: A Basic Guide for Business-Minded Introverts