Sunday, May 5, 2013

Failing Forward

"A great leader's courage to fulfill his vision comes from passion, not position."  --- John C. Maxwell
In his book, Failing Forward, John Maxwell addresses the response of leaders toward failings.  Maxwell says that, in life, the question is not if you will have problems, but how you handle those problems.  He says that with problems, we should stop failing backwards and learn to fail forward.

The book offers great insight and wisdom as only Maxwell can deliver, but here are three key takeaways you can use beginning today:

1.) Failures are only as bad as you perceive them to be.  Take stock of what caused the failure, how serious is the damage, and how much time and money will it take to recover.  Suppose you realized you hired a person that doesn't seem to fit the position, yes, you've lost some money in hiring, training, etc., but would keeping this person on the payroll cost you more?  Would sending him or her down the road send a wealth of messages to your team, your vendors and your customers that you only want the best fit for your company?  Putting failures in an objective light may minimize what you perceive to be a monster.

2.) Remove the "you" from the failure.  Don't allow failures outside to get inside you and don't take them personally.  Too often business leaders see failures as an extension of themselves and therefore see themselves as the failure.  Decisions that were made that led to the failure were bad, wrong, incorrect, or whatever, but you are not the failure.  Separating you from the failure helps you to see the failure as something external and much easier to correct.  If you internalize the failure, it stays with you and is difficult to shake and move on.  If you see it as external, you begin to brainstorm solutions and learn from the mistake.

3.) Get up, get over it, get going.  Often we wallow in the failure and over time actually find comfort in the wallowing.  This is a non-productive outlook and hurts you and your business.  When faced with failure, and we all will be, embrace it for what it teaches, learn how not to do it again, then get going.  Put it behind you and keep on trucking.  Failure is a terrible name for a pet so don't keep it around feeding it and taking it for long walks.

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