One of the most astonishing things in life is finding constants. Failure is a constant in everyone’s life. Every single person has failure. Wealthy and poor people alike. Failure does not discriminate, but it does enjoy everyone’s company. I find people hate failure, some do not even want to talk about it. I get it, failure can harm the ego. It could derail a deal or it could be your marriage ending. But I find that looking at failure as a learning opportunity. It has taken me many years to embrace failure. In ever single failure there are lessons. Why let them dry up in the sunlight?
People focus on the good things, they love saying them and pointing too them. Their egos enjoy praise. But leaders do not focus on the positives without focusing on the failures. Finding lessons in failures is what leaders do. Going into a meeting with your team or say your wife about some failure. It might suck, but you have to address the hard things. “I failed to get the permit”, “I failed too listen to you when you were entrusting in me your thoughts”, “I did not take your concerns into consideration”. These are the things leaders say. Then, they don’t do it again. They make it a point to be the example. Take one for the team as old saying goes.
I would be so much further along in my life and career if I only embraced failure at an earlier age. Now I do. I have two separate recent examples. On on recent project everything went right. Literally 98% of the project went as planned. No unexpected issues or speed bumps. Everything we planned, configured and implemented went off without a hitch. I still looked for things to improve after that project and I found things. Things to clean up future similar projects. I asked my team, “what could we have done better and what did we do exceptionally well”. We all found some things we could do better and we added that too our future project plans.
On another recent project we had a few speed bumps. It was a slightly different project than the one I referenced above, but pretty similar. The majority of items went as planned. But there was one thing I was responsible for that did not. It ate up a few hours of our time. It was on a Friday right before a holiday weekend and it cost my team getting off early heading into the weekend. I came in the following Monday with a mission. A mission to take responsibility. I looked at what happened and put together a plan and guidelines for future projects so it wouldn’t happen again. I then went into our team meeting and said “this was on me, this failure is my fault”. I continued to say “Here is what I will do in future projects so this does not happen again.”. I laid out my plan, got buy in from my team and added it to our plan to ensure this issue never happens again.
Trust me, that stung. While failing can bruise the ego and hurt a little bit. What I cannot stand more is someone who fails to acknowledge they messed up. If someone continues to not demonstrate a willingness to be humble and show their faults, I lose respect for them. It is like a red flag, a railroad crossing flashing at me. We all fail, even the wealthiest people in the world. So show it, own it and make a plan to not do it again. Your co-workers, spouse, kids, etc. will all respect you more and appreciate your willingness in being a fellow flawed human.