Archives For failure

Have you heard the phrase, “failure is not an option?” If you have, you have heard one of the biggest lies of all time. “Failure is always an option”, or so proclaims Adam Savage from Myth Busters. I think he is on to something, but I would take it a step further: not only is failure always an option, it is the most readily available option. More than that, failure is a choice—an easy and comfortable choice.

Thomas Edison had two profound things to say about failure that is helpful in illustrating the point.

The thought that not achieving something is failure is wrong.

I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work. ― Thomas Edison

Go For The Epic Fail

May 30, 2014 — 22 Comments

When’s the last time you failed big? Like epic fail?

You probably can’t remember the last time. Most likely because we tend to minimize our risk of failure. Especially big failures.

We feel big epic fails aren’t pretty. Epic fails are nasty, dirty things. But are they really?

In his book Untitled: Thoughts On The Creative Process (Great book, btw), Blaine Hogan shares this story-

I know all too well the painful reality of standing in front of something I’ve made, only to feel the sobering sting of awareness that comes from realizing the “thing” didn’t live up to the pitch.

This failure can be seen as an epic fail. We pitch, we promote, we hype. Only to see what we imagined fall flat on it’s face.

Epic. Failure. It’s all there.

And then Blaine goes on to ask this question-

It’s going to happen. One day you’re going to let someone down.

This letdown may be your coworkers, your boss, your spouse, your parents, or some other important person in your life. The truth of the matter is you’re going to disappoint them at some point.

We all do it. We might as well be open and honest about this truth. Once we’re honest with ourselves, we can create a plan of action for what we can do when we fail to meet expectations.

Whenever we let someone down, there’s the pang of guilt. We know we didn’t uphold our end of the bargain. The ball was dropped. We were a disappointment.

We’ll often scramble to create an excuse as to why we failed to meet the expectations someone had for us. We’ll throw out excuses. We’ll blame others. We’ll clam up.

Innovation is a requirement for great leadership. You’re always on the lookout for new ways to move the company forward. You know there’s power in new ideas.

But how many times do you feel stuck as you try to take your team to the next level? It’s frustrating. It’s annoying. It’s something that can be overcome.

When we introduce new ideas and new practices, we begin to elevate the company to the next level. The company is able to rise above the previous problems and tackle new issues that are arising.

You can even help the company grow and succeed by being innovative.

But what does it take to be innovative as a leader? What can you do to increase the flow of new ideas and new breakthroughs?

Do you remember your school days? When you were taught the formula for pi, surface area, or how to calculate volume.

We were taught they were absolute. And they are.

Formulas are so ingrained into our psyche that we look for them everywhere. Even success.

Image by Tom Brown

Image by Tom Brown

I’ve got bad news for you today. There’s no success formula. There’s no way to calculate what’s going to bring success to you and to everyone else.

You won’t be able to find a formula for success.

There’s no easy path to success.

Success will look different for everyone. That’s why we cannot lay down a simple plan or rule that will lead to success.

Instead, there are principles that we can follow that will help, but not guarantee, success.

These success principles include: