Posted by Ryan Howard on Sun, Mar 10, 2013
Yes, I am are serious. I love the "F" word.
It's a four letter verb that I use (and do) often. Just ask around our office (even Human Resources). It has helped define and develop many of my best business relationships; and has also resulted in my complete rejection.
I know, you might be asking yourself, WTF!? Wait! No, no, no, not that! The "F" word we're referring to here is "fail". I hope to show you how this four letter word can provide you the opportunity to develop yourself, your team and your professional relationships.
Contrary to what common wisdom would have us believe, failure should not be frowned upon, it should be embraced. To fail helps us assess performance, determine whether our effort was sufficient and permits us to identify where there is a need for improvement. It opens the door for opportunities employee development and training, creates situations in which to build confidence, reminds us to be humble and, in general, moves us forward. Learning from failure gives us the opportunity to avoid repeating our mistakes. What then, do we mean by WTF?
WTF is the tool to use: As in, Why The Fail?
Thomas Edison is known to have said: “I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.” Much as coaches will tell you that a team learns more from losing than it does from winning, so do both individuals and organizations stand to learn much more from failure than they do from success. The most important lesson is that which Mr. Edison alludes to: Discovering what doesn't work.
Only when an idea, plan or project fails do we begin to consider that our perceptions or, perhaps, even beliefs are not grounded in fact or reality, that what we think will work is, in fact, not feasible.
In an organization, discovering what doesn't work benefits every department, every individual in the endeavor. In fact, absent lack of success, there is no incentive to continue to upgrade employee development and training, no motivation to stay abreast of advances in technology, in research and development, in management and/or in customer service.
If your organization takes an attitude of "it it ain't broke, don't fix it" and chooses to rest on a level of success that is merely the status quo, it will soon resemble a shark that has stopped swimming, sinking slowly to the bottom.
What holds many individuals (and therefore the companies for whom they work) back isn't failure but the fear of failure. In a business climate that seems to reward success-at-all-costs, too many of us are afraid to make a mistake. What tends to be forgotten, however, is that "mistake" and "fail" don't have the same meaning.
Many a mistake, soon forgotten, has been made during the course of successful endeavors. Even failure is forgotten (and usually forgiven) so long as it it is merely a delay on the way to achieving the desired outcome. Any failure, no matter how catastrophic it may appear at the time, can and should be used as an opportunity to better ourselves, our work, our efforts, our departments, our entire organization.
Of course, failure also reminds us that we aren't perfect, much as we'd like to convince (delude?) ourselves into thinking otherwise. When we make a mistake, we fail only if we don't learn from it. When you're not sure whether your response to a setback is reasonable, just remind yourself: "My ego is not my amigo." Take advantage of the situation to avail yourself of additional employee development and training, if need be.
So, although it's a four letter verb that begins with an "F", fail is a word that you don't need to exclude from your vocabulary. Put another way (and with apologies to Stanley Kubrick): How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love to Fail".
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