Everyone fails at some point in their lives. Plan for it. Just don’t plan to have a failure focused fixation. Learn from failure. If you tried and failed, that doesn’t make you a failure. You are simply a leader who tried something that didn’t work out. You have learned a way not to do it the next time.

Embrace Failure

Too many people create barriers for themselves because they see failure as something to be feared rather than an important – and sometimes essential – building block for success. People who embrace failure have greater knowledge, deeper experience and clearer vision of what success looks like. The education failure has given them is irreplaceable.

Give people the freedom to fail. Don’t hire failures who have given up on trying; hire tryers who haven’t given in to failing. These people will take your project, program or cause further with greater energy and clearer vision. Often, what you refer to as failure may be the very prerequisite to success that comes just before the breakthrough you dream about.

“They (entrepreneurs) are not deterred by problems, mistakes, or errors. Why? Because they don’t see setbacks as failures. They recognize that three steps forward and two steps back still equals one step forward. As a result, they overcome the average and become achievers.”

John Maxwell, Failing Forward

Five Days of Action

Make a list of those things you consider failures. Alongside each failure, note what you learned and how that prepared you for some future gain, advancement or insight that came about. Embrace those and future failures as stepping stones to success.

Yesterday you listed the elements of an incredible education. Take that same list of failures, title it “Lessons Learned – My Incredible Education”. This is the learning you will apply in the workplace today and tomorrow. Think about how you will do this. How will you apply what you learned to your work today and incorporate it into your attitude for the rest of your life?

How do you treat people who have failed? Can you influence the person who has failed and is discouraged, but is willing to keep going? What about the person who has failed and given up? What can you do that will bring something good out of something bad? Good results may not come in the short term but in the longer term.

Create a strategic plan to deal with failure as it arises. What immediate steps need to be taken? What immediate lessons can be gleaned and acted upon?

Think about creating a ‘no-fail’ environment in your organization. This means that failure, when it happens, is immediately turned into a learning opportunity and is used as a catalyst for growth toward greater successes. Are there degrees of failure that need to be treated in different ways?