Failure has always been an unavoidable aspect of life. However, in recent years, the concept has taken on a counterintuitive meaning in some circles. As the maxim goes; “Embrace failure.” John Maxwell, the leadership guru, advises us to “fail forwards.” Elizabeth Day, the author, recently published How To Fail, which summarises everything valuable she has learned from painful personal experience. The underlying narrative is enticing: all failures contain the seeds of success.

This merits further investigation—and for good reason. According to the Harvard Business Review, success in the twenty-first century entails competing on differentiators other than price and prioritising revenue growth over cost reduction. This emphasises the importance of innovation—the process of imagining and realising new ideas. Every time someone attempts to do this, the risk of failure is ever-present. What will succeed and what will fail is rarely predictable in advance, and often not without extensive testing and learning. Our willingness to take these risks can have an impact on our chances of success.

So, how do you successfully embrace failure? If you are struggling with embracing failure, this article is for you. Today, I’m sharing with you 8 tips that will help you embrace failure.

Don’t Let Fear Become Your Focus

Fear is a strong emotion that can either help or hinder you. Use it as an alert system: it indicates where you should focus your attention, loose ends that need to be tied off, or flaws in your plans. When you’ve received the signal, focus on it directly and let go of the unpleasant sensation. Try listening to fear as a source of wisdom this week, then write down the signal and your response plan to whatever triggered it. Does paying close attention to the signal relieve stress, clear your mind, and propel you forward?

Fail to Increase Your Success

Teams that are afraid of failure and its outcomes produce mediocre results over time. This occurs because they work for and are rewarded for predictable outcomes rather than pushing beyond certainty toward possibility — how do you respond when they fall short? Create a regular vocabulary and process for defining committed outcomes and stretching objectives week after week to empower your team to exceed expectations. A recognition system that celebrates commitment goals and the stretch even when the goal is not met will motivate your team to go beyond predictable to impressive results.

Think of Your Failure as a Beginning Rather than an Ending

Failure is as inevitable as death and taxes, and it can be just as unpleasant! However, each failure opens up new avenues and presents new data. Instead of focusing on the failure itself, concentrate on the data that came with it and the new door that opened. Consider 5 previous failures: what did you learn from them, and would you be where you are now without them? Failure has most likely taught you more than any other source of wisdom. Instead of being afraid and uncomfortable, embrace failure’s value as a teacher, become curious about the data it provides, and be open to where it leads you next.

Try Finding Silent Evidence

Failure is an outcome by definition, but because the outcome is negative, the associated evidence is frequently buried by time, vested interests, or circumstance. Business failure rates, redacted project reports, ex-employee experience, and buried commercial data are all examples of silent evidence that can be found in the business environment. This type of evidence can reveal an unsettling truth: not every failure contains the seeds of future success. Sometimes a failure is nothing more than that. The seeker’s problem, of course, is that the evidence in question is deafeningly silent. However, silence does not imply absence. Failed businesses, for example, may no longer exist—but their founders usually do.

Remember that looking for negative data can be anathema to innovators, who are typically upbeat, optimistic types who see opportunity where others see only problems. A forensic search for and examination of silent evidence can frequently reveal hidden truths that will increase the efficiency of innovation and/or limit the costs of failure. When people have their eyes wide open, optimism is a wonderful thing.

Hunt For the Hidden Incentives

The adage goes, “What gets measured gets done,” but this is only half the story. In reality, what is measured and rewarded is carried out. Hidden incentives come in two varieties. The first is financial, and it includes things like salaries, bonus payments, and stock price. To state the obvious, most businesses do not award bonuses for failure. However, there are other types of financial disincentives. It’s pointless to declare your intention to be “digital first” if your executive team is largely compensated based on the performance of non-digital routes to market.

The second type of hidden incentive is psychological in nature, and it is related to security and status. In neurological terms, we are all primitive creatures aware of the need to maintain and improve our position in the tribe. And for good reason: expulsion from the tribe posed a significant threat to an individual’s life for a long time in human history. Our brain wiring hasn’t caught up with the fact that (for the most part), the world doesn’t work that way.

As a Result:

The hidden incentive that drives much of how people behave at work is the preservation of status and security. It’s why we’re afraid of change and of failing. It’s also why we bury failure evidence wherever we can, resulting in the silent evidence problem. The tribe’s increased status and success explains why we prefer to reward success. Accepting failure goes against our most basic survival instincts and the very foundation on which most businesses reward their employees’ behavior. So it’s the most difficult task. How should it be done? Begin by admitting that truth to yourself and those around you. Then go through all of the available evidence, both silent and otherwise. Failure is painful, counterintuitive, and ultimately necessary. It is always worthwhile to consider how to mitigate its impact in advance.

Find Success in Failure

Although not everyone fails in the workplace, most people would agree that failure is always experienced in response to some type of attempt. We fail both personally and professionally, from the classroom to the boardroom to a family conversation in your living room. True, destroying a batch of cookies is not the same as destroying a batch of vaccine doses. Our response options, however, are similar. We can learn from our mistakes, blame others, or draw strength from our team.

Timing is Important

I recall when I was a lot younger and smelled my cupcakes after fifteen minutes in the oven. They were supposed to bake for 20 minutes, but I took them out sooner because I was afraid they would burn. They were visually appealing and had the right texture. But there was another problem. Though the flavour was excellent, they were slightly undercooked.

Once again, my eagerness to claim success resulted in failure. My second attempt also ended in failure. Protocols, guidelines, and processes are in place to assist you in succeeding. Some of us lack the virtue of patience, and this can sometimes spell our doom. There are no quick fixes for success. Take your time and have fun with it. Experience, on the other hand, cannot be replaced. Experience is the accumulation of knowledge gained from failures. In other words, having experience implies that you have failed several times and learned something new each time.

Freedom in Failure

In the same way that a baby learns to walk, you will achieve the success you desire as long as you can handle the bumps and bruises along the way. You will have to take risks in order to progress. You are exposing yourself when you take risks; fear will set in, and people will think you are insane if you do it anyway. Success is made up of thousands of failures that result in thousands of lessons that will eventually allow you to live your wildest dreams. You don’t want to live this life with regrets and broken promises to yourself. You can and will be successful. If you’re not afraid of failing. I guarantee you that the freedom and joy you seek are on the other side of fear and failure.

What are you avoiding today because you are afraid of failing? Be prepared and eager to succeed.

Look For the Lessons

Okay, we’re getting into cliché territory, but some clichés have endured for a reason: they may have some truth in them. Remember that every failure teaches us something. Throughout the years that Bob Ross, one of the most talented and beloved painter instructors of all time, hosted The Joy of Painting, he frequently stated, “We don’t make mistakes. We just happen to have happy accidents.” In one episode devoted entirely to happy accidents, he went on to say, “Anything you do, you can learn to use.”

We may not all share Bob Ross’s outlook on life, but our failures can be used for good. You can learn from them and apply what you’ve learned as you go forward. While it may take some time, mistakes can eventually turn into happy accidents. You will be able to overcome your fear of failure as soon as you begin to see challenges as opportunities to learn rather than risks of failure.

Look for the Challenges

Remember admitting your fear of failure and learning what those potential failure points were? It’s time to rewrite your story. Instead of considering all potential failures as things that could go wrong, consider them as challenges. This will give you a positive and proactive attitude as you work toward your goals. Instead of being concerned about being rejected by a potential customer, view it as a challenge to do whatever it takes to close the deal.

Instead of thinking to yourself, “I’m afraid people won’t like this new video,” tell yourself, “I’m going to prepare and rehearse as much as it takes to get this video right.” If you’re worried that a new product release won’t go as planned, consider it a challenge to create the best product possible, with the release being the first of many iterations. Keep in mind that no one is perfect. Pursuing perfection can be paralysing, which is detrimental to your personal as well as professional growth.

Cut Yourself Some Slack

Sometimes all we need to remember is that we’re human. When you feel trapped by your fear of failure, take a moment to step away from your work and breathe. Give yourself some leeway. Allow yourself the freedom to make mistakes. If it helps, repeat to yourself, “It’s okay to make mistakes.” You have a lot on your plate, and it’s okay if you’re not perfect all of the time. You will experience setbacks along the way, as will everyone else. What we do with our failures often defines who we are. Don’t be hard on yourself, and don’t punish yourself either.

Take a moment to reflect on how you arrived here, and then learn. Consider all of your previous accomplishments. Make a list of your accomplishments and keep it somewhere you will see it throughout the day. Remember to celebrate your successes and share them with those you care about as you race toward your goals and fulfill your life ambitions. You can overcome your fear of failure and take your business to new heights by becoming your own cheerleader.

Final Word

We cannot always avoid failure, no matter how hard we try. We can, however, maintain a healthy network of encouragement, empowerment, and inspiration by surrounding ourselves with supportive friends, family, and peers. If you struggle with embracing failure, hopefully the tips in this article will help you better prepare what life has in store for you. Seeking success in failure, thinking of failure as a new beginning, and finding hidden incentives can be really helpful when trying to embrace failure.


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