By Andy Bailey
Woody Allen once said, “If you’re not failing every now and again, it’s a sign you’re not doing anything very innovative.” Failure is an inevitable part of any business and if you haven’t made a few mistakes in your career, it could be a sign you’re playing too safe.
But you can’t just fail. You have to fail the right way.
Below are four ways to make the right mistakes, or, how to perfect the art of failing.
1. Know the risk you’re taking. Don’t take a risk just to say you did it. When you step out of your comfort zone, make sure it’s a calculated one. Focus on the potential downfalls as much as the possible outcomes. Is the step in line with your company’s mission statement? Does it support a company goal or priority? Even if the new initiative fails, fully understanding the issue will allow you to bounce back and offer an alternate solution quicker.
2. Analyze your failure. You made a mistake. Ok, now what? Analyze what went wrong. Be honest with yourself and your team about where things went awry. This isn’t an opportunity to place blame or point fingers. Take this time to look at the things that can be fixed and improved for next time.
3. Play to your strengths. Don’t let a current failure scare you away from taking a future risk. The best way to discover your true potential is to continue taking steps outside of your comfort zone. Move on from your mistake with a list of things that went well. When you take another risk in the future, play to these strengths as you decide a course of action. As you move forward, and inevitably fail more, you’ll learn more about your true talents and where the company’s focus should be.
4. Recognize failure. There’s no shame in failing. Celebrate a mistake by acknowledging the calculation and courage involved. Failures mean you’re doing something. Like Woody said, failure means you’re trying to innovate. So what if it didn’t go according to plan? At your next company meeting, lunch or happy hour, celebrate the players in your organization that are trying to make things happen – whether they’ve succeeded or failed. Creating a positive attitude towards failing will encourage everyone on the team to take more chances.
Many great leaders, entrepreneurs and athletes know there’s an art to failing. Steve Jobs was fired from Apple, the company he helped create, before returning years later to become CEO. Walt Disney was fired from a newspaper early in his career for lack of imagination.
It’s not enough to make a mistake. The true benefit in failing comes in the aftermath. Learning to the fail the right way will provide your company with the feedback and experience necessary to move forward successfully.
Andy Bailey is lead entrepreneur coach with business coaching firm Petra and serves as the entrepreneur organization’s global membership director. Visit his blog at www.petracoach.com for more business and leadership insight. Connect at @PetraCoach.
# # #