Failure IS an Option


I created a workshop called "How to Fail." I facilitated it last year and the evaluations were positive. Basically, it looks at how failure is a necessary part of learning, creativity, and progress. If you aren't occasionally falling flat on your face, you probably aren't stretching yourself hard enough to experience the many lessons life has to offer.

If an organization can embrace failure - even encourage failure - it would go a long way toward breaking down the stifling, lackluster, and change-averse cultures of blame and mistrust.

The other day I engaged in a hearty round of failure. It was neither awe-inspiring nor invigorating. It was awful.

My failure occurred because of two stupid mistakes I made on calculations within a new report. I'm not sure how the first mistake occurred, probably due to a lack of focus on my part. The second mistake - on the same report, which I had now sent two incorrect versions out - was just from rushing things and not taking the time to think about the implications of the first correction I had made.

These were not grand failures that will propel me into new creative pastures of innovation and delight. These were everyday failures. These were mistakes. Until this happened, I thought "failure" and "mistake" were synonyms. Now I don't think so. And, it is more than merely a matter of scale. I think that "mistake" might be one subset of "failure." I say this because I could try out a new program, do everything right and still have it fail. There were no glaring mistakes per se, but the program still failed.

This idea is still pretty "doughy" for me. I will continue to think about it. I'm interested to hear comments and thoughts from others on this.