How to Fail Your Way Forward Successfully
It is a natural human tendency that whenever we think about success, we do not associate it with failure. However, the truth of the matter is that rarely any success is achieved without braving multiple failures along the way. History proves that the list of highly successful individuals have all faced failures before they climbed their way towards success.
For instance, we all associate Steve Jobs for his hit products such as the iPad, Mac Computer, iPhone etc. However, we forget that he also had a list of products under his belt, which failed, such as Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh, Newton, Apple Lisa, Apple III, to name a few. Similarly, history is proof of the fact that Abraham Lincoln ran for every possible office and lost miserably before being elected as the President. Steven Spielberg who has a list of successful films in his kitty and is considered to be one of the most influential moviemakers in Hollywood was rejected from getting admission to a movie school three times before he moved on to some other school and later even dropped out of it to become a successful director. One thing to understand is that the opposite of ‘success’ isn’t ‘failure’ but ‘not trying hard enough’. If you are someone who hardly fails, it may be because either you are playing it too safe or you are not trying to think out of the box to innovate and excel.
Listed below are some tips to help you push yourself and be a true leader who can lead your team to success and be one of the most renowned in your respective industry or organisation.
- Always strive to outperform your competition: If you wish to be a leader, you need to aware of the fact that there are other competent leaders ahead of you. So you need to think out of the box and look to learn new ways of doing things. For instance, you can think of improving a specific process in your organisation, introduce a new concept or a product, or provide stellar customer service to your existing customers. To achieve this, you need to think, learn, and then put your thoughts and learning into action. It is only when you put them into action will your vision convert into reality and can be a path breaker and change the world.
- Embrace an appetite for risk: It’s great fun indeed to figure out new things and to find out ways of whether it will work or not. But before doing this, you need to have the willingness to take risks and adopt a passion to ‘always be learning’ from experience irrespective of the outcome.
- Iterate, innovate and invent: To do this, you need to set some time aside to think. If you invest all your productive hours in performing tasks that require little thought and have a high chance of success and accomplishment, you will have a very bleak chance of being creative and to think strategically. Innovation and invention always indicate change. Whenever there is some change, there are huge chances that some of these changes will often lead to failure.
- Fail faster, fail often: When Peter Norvig, the Research Director at Google, was questioned about failure at Google, he said that their motto is to try to fail faster and smaller. He further shared that the average cycle for getting something done at Google is three months instead of three years. Also, the average team size at Google is small so that if they have a new idea, they do not have to go through any kind of political lobbying. This is a great idea to set a goal which allows you to fail more often and faster so that there are good chances that the impact of these failures won’t be entirely negative.
- Have a sense of humour and always move on: If you ask successful people about difficulty or hardship, they will share with you that it is these hardships and failures that have pushed them towards success. You must have a funny bone in you and have the ability to laugh at your failures. This will help in creating an environment where people won’t be wary of making mistakes or trying something that may or may not work.
- Celebrate success and failure: Celebrating success is easy. Celebrating what didn’t work takes guts. In fact, most leaders think that the best way to handle someone else’s failure is to not say anything about it. But, when a leader has the guts to say, “I wanted to bring some special recognition to Sandy in today’s meeting. A lot of you know that Sandy spent the last month developing a new process for our software. We implemented it last week, and many of you know it didn’t work as planned. But, I want to recognise Sandy for three reasons. First, she had the vision to improve our system. Second, she had the guts to try a new idea that we had no guarantee would work. And last, after it failed, she came into my office and said, “I’m not giving up. It didn’t work this way, but there has to be a way that will be significantly more efficient for us to operate.” Sandy, you make me proud and let me know what else you need from the team or me to make this work.”
Putting these seven tips into action will help you be a leader who encourages growth and rewards failure when team members are willing to try new things. Failure can be seen as a bad thing until you understand that the people who have been wildly successful just failed more often than people who played it safe. To rise to a level of greatness, you cannot see failure as a failure; it is merely an opportunity, brilliantly disguised, to find even better ways to do things!