Leading: 10 Stunning Benefits of Failure

Success is a lousy teacher

Success teaches repetition. Do more of the same because more of the same produces more of the same.

“So many good things have come out of my failures. Failures test you and build your character in ways that other experiences can’t. In addition, some of the best contacts I have in my network have come from meeting people in the pursuit of projects that ultimately did not work out.”

In changing times more of the same is deadly.

Success teaches confidence. Without confidence progress stalls, second-guessing prevails, the status quo persists. On the down side, success inflates confidence.

Bill Gates said, “Success is a lousy teacher.
It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.

Danger

Too much confidence spawns failure. The vulnerabilities of over-confidence include:

  1. Failure to explore root causes of success.
  2. Resistance to evaluation.
  3. Feelings of invincibility.
  4. Closed ears.

Opportunity

Failure humbles some and angers others. Humble leaders:

  1. Ask what caused failure. Exploring failure is the most useful result of failure.
  2. Know they don’t know. Not knowing is the first step to knowing.
  3. Adapt. Stubborn resistance to adapting reveals arrogance.
  4. Know limitations. Acknowledge weaknesses to themselves and others.
  5. Transparency marks humble leaders.
  6. Seek advice and welcome feedback from all quarters.
  7. Welcome help. High potentials don’t say, “I can do it on my own.”
  8. Give credit.
  9. Respect skill in others.
  10. Honor teams rather than steal credit.

Bonus: Display compassion even during the rigorous pursuit of excellence.

High Potentials:

Watch team members respond to failure, frustration, and falling short. Continue stretching the humble and coaching the angry. Elevate the humble.

Work with the arrogant. If they refuse to grow, eliminate them. Humility builds. Arrogance destroys.

It’s a tough call because confidence is essential to success. But over-confidence eventually fails. The ten responses to failure help identify high-potentials.

Discuss with your team

What benefits have failure produced in your life?

How do you identify high potential employees?

 

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