Friday, November 24, 2006

Failure Breeds Success

Occasionally we hear of success stories where individuals have overcome challenges that were from failures in business ventures, in personal decisions, in sporting events and in the school classroom. While there are few parents at home, teachers in school, coaches in sports, and managers at the office promote failure, there are a small number of people who are wrestling with the opposite problem - trying to get the people that they coach (whether it be their children, athletes or employees) to take risks.

Risk taking and experiencing failure is something that innovation, growth, and re-invention requires. Although everyone fears the word failure, breakthroughs depend on it! Particularly, in today’s competitive world, in which product cycles are shorter than ever and athletes are easy to come by. The reality - if you don't take that step of putting yourself out on a limb you will never be leading the pack.

So, then why is it so difficult for people to put themselves out there? Well, with heightened expectations from parents at home, from management on individual performance, and from coaches on their athletes, it’s easy to see why so many opt to play it safe. Unless failure is actually promoted, people shy away from any chance that failure may occur and that would put them in a position to be looked down upon. People fear failure, but fear the consequences of it even more.

And yes, not all failures are praiseworthy. There are definitely bad ideas, mistakes, and uneducated risks that should not be taken. However, intelligent failures and educated risks should be more than just tolerable, they should be encouraged. Wherever possible, environments when mistakes will not have a life changing impact if the result is not the most ideal outcome, risk taking should be promoted and then encourage the sharing of the mistakes that sometimes follow.

Failing is something that we must accept at the cost of potential reward – and there can be a lot of reward from any risks that we take – both personally and professionally. Ultimately, if we wish to excel above the norm at whatever role we play, taking risks is vital.

So – go explore, experiment, make mistakes, take risks, learn from your actions and then repeat!

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