Leadership Blog – F is for Fail Forward

F image“The essence of man is imperfection.  Know that you’re going to make mistakes.  The fellow who never makes a mistake takes his orders from one who does.  Wake up and realize this: Failure is simply a price we pay to achieve success.” ~John C. Maxwell, author of Failing Forward: Turning Mistakes Into Stepping Stones for Success

Failing forward, or learning from what went wrong, is a critical component of having a successful career and being an effective leader.  Becoming better from your mistakes, rather than spending all your time focusing on covering them up or defending them, is the key here. As a leader, one must strive to develop a growth mindset.  This way, you and your team can evolve from your failures.

When thinking through new product ideas or service offerings, a leader must encourage his team to remove failure as an option.  Instead, he/she should encourage them to think through any possible ideas, regardless of how absurd they might sound.  Some ideas may fail when launched but a team (and its leader) must be okay with that.  The real failure is the fear of launching an idea until it is perfect.

Another issue is analysis paralysis.  According to Wikipedia, this is “the state of over-analyzing (or over-thinking) a situation so that a decision or action is never taken, in effect paralyzing the outcome.  In order to overcome analysis paralysis in the decision-making process, make sure you give yourself and your team a strict deadline and try to keep from digging into every detail that comes up.  No matter how much information you have, there will always be more to sift through.  Make small, actionable decisions that will propel you and your team forward.  Change is ongoing, so you will never be able to make the “perfect” decision.

You can create a win-win situation by putting in place specific measures to help your team to keep improving and moving towards your final goals.  The focus should be on continually improving.  As Albert Einstein said, “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”  And, “You never fail until you stop trying.”

Think back to the last time you failed at something.  Did you grow and learn from your failure and move forward?  It is worth the time to write down some of the things you learned and how they apply to current situations.

Other “F” words to ponder – forecast, future, flexible, fearlessness, fair, and faith

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