Friday, November 5, 2010
Most of us can remember a time from our childhoods when we failed. Maybe we lost in the final round of the spelling bee, forgot our lines in the school play, or cost our team the championship game. At the time, those failures felt devastating and in some ways they were. However, most of us learned early on that failure is essential to winning.
As adults, we often forget this simple yet powerful lesson. In the business world, we are trained to despise failure, and for good reason. It can cost you dearly. However, since failure is unavoidable, we must develop the fortitude to learn from it, even if it turns our stomach. Like many things in life, the idea is counter intuitive. By learning to accept failure, we actually set ourselves up to win.
The ability to fail, feel the sting, learn from the experience and bounce back is a hallmark of great leaders. Call it compulsive but great leaders analyze a failure down to its smallest components. In the search for something positive, and to alleviate the pain, they dissect the miss in search of any grain of insight that can make the glass half full.
Bouncing back and learning from mistakes is an acquired skill. Most of us aren’t born with this ability; we learn from our experience. Great leaders remind themselves of the lessons learned at the knees of their parents, grandparents, teachers, and other influential people in their lives. Most important, they remind their people of this simple truth: bouncing back is actually bouncing forward.