Wishing Y’all Lots of Failure During Organizational Change

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” – Michael Jordan, (American NBA basketball player, widely considered to be the greatest player in the history of the game, 1963 – )

No one likes to fail. Failure may be one of the most uncomfortable feelings we will all experience in our personal and professional lives. In the spirit of learning, let’s consider the value we may find in our failures. For instance, failure…

  • …demonstrates innovation. To innovate, you have to accept that your idea might fail. Right alongside innovation is courage. Why not use failure to build your innovation and courage muscles?
  • …shows a willingness to take risks. Change leaders who take intelligent risks create more value than those leaders who don’t. This does not mean that you should lead your team on a path of reckless risk-taking. Businesses that don’t take risks don’t grow, and wise leaders are needed to decide which risks make sense.
  • …is a huge learning experience. Failure offers the opportunity for you to reflect on a situation: “What could I have done differently? How could I have created a different outcome?” If you don’t take the time to reflect, expect your growth to stall.
  • …teaches success. Even though humans naturally avoid failure, people who have already failed are better at avoiding failure a second time.
  • …develops faster and better reactions. Because it hones our reactions, failure teaches us to “know when to hold ’em, know to fold ’em,” which is one of my father’s favorite quotes from the Kenny Roger’s song The Gambler. My father often encouraged his four daughters to fail so that we could practice getting back up and trying again. Experience with failure teaches us to fail fast and inexpensively.

If you never fail, you may begin to see yourself as invincible. No one is invincible – remember that. Wishing y’all lots of failure on your imperfect path of change and progress.

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Sandra Schwan

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