Nobody likes the “F” word. No one wants to be a part of the “F” word. However, the “F” word is a necessary part of leadership. The “F” word is a very important part of success. No one, no matter how good they are, can get around the “F” word. What is the “F” word, you say?
Failure is a very necessary part of leadership and success. However, there is an epidemic of fear of failure that plagues all of us from time to time. If you’re going to be a leader, then you need to get comfortable with the possibility of failure. This is because you’re going to fail; not once, or twice, but many times over.
No leader you see with any level of success hasn’t’ had his/her share of failures.
- Henry Ford, the founder of the Ford Motor Company went bankrupt 5 times before his business got off the ground.
- Michael Jordan was cut from the JV basketball team. The coach told him to take up baseball.
- H. Macy was arrested by the IRS for tax invasion. However, when he got out of jail, he opened Macy’s Department Store in New York.
We are all aware of Henry Ford, Michael Jordan, and R.H. Macy, from what they are famous for, but failure was a big part of their story.
As a leader, I want to offer you three quick thoughts on failure:
Don’t Be Afraid To Fail – Just get over it. You’re not God, so failure is a permanent part of your story – past, present and future. A good way not to be afraid to fail, is to change your perspective on failure. Look at failure as an opportunity for something new, different or a signpost to point you into a new direction. I have noticed that the things that have made the most impact on my life and organization are those things that I/we have failed at.
Be The First To Fail – Dr. R.A. Vernon, the Senior Pastor of The Word Church, Cleveland, OH was attempting to do something that typically doesn’t work in African American churches and that is satellite campuses. It is where people go to a location and look at a church service on the screen. He called Dr. Sam Chand. Dr. Chand told Dr. Vernon, “Go ahead and do it, be the first to fail at it.” Well, it just so happened that it didn’t fail. It was a major success. Thomas J. Watson, the founder of IBM said, “The formula for success is quite simple; double your rate of failure.” Successful people understand one thing. It is that every failure get this closer to success. If you never take a risk because you fear failure, you might miss an opportunity for success. It is never the people that play it safe that get to the top. It’s always the risk takers.
Fail Forward – You can fail backwards or your can fail forward. Failing backwards means you give up, quit or become discontented. However, failure forward looks much different. People who fail forward, assess what went wrong, correct any items that are within their control and determine if giving it another try is the course of action or to try something totally new.
We must be honest in our assessment of failure, because some failure is the result of us not giving our best and other failure is divine. However, there can be positive results from both.
What are steps you have taken after a project, career or relationship has failed?