Learning From Failure As Leaders Is An Essential Skill
"Never let success go to your head, never let failure get to your heart."- Beyonce Knowles.
Leaders need to handle failures with grace, resiliency and resolve. Failure is feedback, bringing us one step closer to our goals. The word "failure" has a negative connotation, but I believe we have to adjust the way we see failure. A leader's mind needs to be open to inevitable mistakes and not necessarily something that will lead them to failure. Leaders who cannot handle working alongside people who fail need to become more comfortable with the idea of doing so themselves.
Many of us have made some risky decisions in our lives. Some business owners probably had more than their fair share of errors while opening up shop. However, learning from these failures is what led them towards success. While there are some cases where it might be better for some businesses if they would've never opened, I'm sure that there are many others whose story ends differently because they did open up shop despite knowing that there was a good chance of failure. Sometimes, you have to take calculated leaps of fear.
So how does this relate to you as a leader? Well, if you ever find yourself in a position where your team is closing shop because of fear and failure, it's probably time to take note. Successful leaders don't avoid risky decisions; they seek them out. They know that not taking risks will almost always lead to the status quo's safest route. Leaders know that there are benefits to taking risks, even when those risks end up failing. The best leaders understand that choosing from among many options can be difficult, making them unique. It takes courage to make difficult decisions, admit mistakes, and keep moving forward. Doing so may even be more important than succeeding at the first attempt.
You might be more familiar with the saying that when life throws you lemons, you make lemonade. However, I take that expression a step further. I believe, but when life throws you lemons, you make cocktails! It is essential to celebrate your failures and take the time to learn from them.
To quote Ben Horowitz: "Leadership is about making sound judgments and executing, even if those decisions are made from a position of uncertainty. In the face of an ever-changing environment, leaders need to adapt as new information arrives."
To celebrate your failures, you need to have the attitude that every failure can bring you closer to success. Mistakes make us human. Everyone makes them, including the most successful people in the world. The critical difference with highly successful people is that they recover quickly after setbacks, and a bad day or a bad week doesn't stop them from moving towards their goals.
So, the next time your company suffers a seeming setup, I encourage you to learn how to reframe this. This setback is simply setting you up for your inevitable success. I encourage you to look back at your failures from a different perspective. What have these life lessons taught you, and how are you stronger and more successful today because you implemented those lessons.
What was your company struggling with? What did you learn from this failure? How is your company better today because of the process and the lessons learned? It might seem like hope is gone for some people, but remember, one day, you will raise your glass and have a toast and celebrate your wins, which are so much sweeter because of the challenges you had to go through to get there.
By looking at failure differently, you can take the lessons learned and implement them in your life. I, myself, have had numerous failures, but even still today, I can say my glass is complete, and my failures helped me become the woman I am today.