Failure: Dealing with failure is a key leadership skill.
Losing better than winning?
A leader needs to develop a good sense of recognizing failure and turning it into a learning experience. Failure does not have to be a big deal, but most people’s natural tendencies are the opposite of what needs to happen in order to turn a failure into a learning experience and not a confidence breaker. Too often those in leadership make failure too personal and try to cover up those failings. The road to success is paved with stones of failure. The two truly go hand in hand.
In racquetball I often state that winning is great but it does very little to improving my game. Losing on the other hand exposes many opportunities for improvement. The overwhelming feedback that winning provides is that I am better than the other person. My evaluation usually stops there.
Losing causes me to examine so much more. What did I do well? What did I do horrible? Where can I improve for next time? Did I observe weaknesses in their game that I can better exploit next game? Losing creates a new passion inside me to succeed next game.
Don’t be afraid to fail
The fear of failure is ingrained in us at an early age. We become afraid of the potential negative instead of the reward of the potential gain. On a walk yesterday with my 4 year old I observed this practice. He was walking along a ledge that was beside the sidewalk. There was a step up in the ledge, about 4 inches. The ledge was now about 4 feet from the sidewalk (on the other side was rocks and they were about two feet down. My son froze. All he could see was the four feet he would fall. When I asked him about this, he said he was afraid of falling. When I asked him why he wasn’t afraid of falling before the step up, he replied ” I just wasn’t thinking about falling then.”
How frequently does this play a role in your life? After a little change or variation in your plan, do you only see the possible negative outcome? How does this affect your results? This is why it is critical that you understand that only through failure, will you find success. The faster you experience failure, the faster you will discover the lessons for success.
Failure is a lesson
Leadership expert Robin Sharma shares that “the more you go to your limits, the more your limits will expand…The fears you don’t face become your walls.” In his book The Leader Who Had No Title one of the main characters, a ski instructor, points out that “tough runs build better skiers.”
Why does understanding this principle help to overcome the fear of failure? Basically, there is a shift in perception on the value of failure. Stop associating failure with no value or negative value. Create the paradigm shift that failure is a benefit, that it is the accelerant so that you can succeed faster. By changing this value, the fear of failure is reduced. The power is placed on the correct purpose.