Archives For failure

Try Something Old Again

September 19, 2014 — 12 Comments

Growing up, life was pretty good. I had loving parents. I had good friends. I had everything a kid could hope for.

Except one thing.

The one thing I was missing was a positive sports experience.

A memory that looms large in my mind is of being benched during my first, and only, season of little league baseball. Sitting on the bench while all of the other kids played baseball seemed like the worst thing that could happen to me.

I was wrong and there were other things that have taken the place of being benched. Yet this memory looms large. It held me back for many years.

And then last year I was invited to join my work’s recreation softball team. This was a blast. I discovered I wasn’t so bad at softball/baseball. I could add value to the team.

As great as leadership can be, there are frustrating struggles every leader will face. We’ll be hard-pressed to enjoy every minute of leadership.

There’s plenty of times I think of the things I hate about leadership. And then the list begins to take shape…

Sometimes I hate leadership so much I could scream!

Image by Kenny Louie

Leadership comes with it’s own pitfalls. The trappings we all hate. The frustrations of making a tough choice. The terror of stepping forward.

Yet we lead, even with the long lists of things we hate.

1. The added responsibility of leadership: Yup, we all step into leadership and know there’s going to be added responsibility. Sometimes the added responsibility that comes with leadership can be overwhelming.

2. The responsibility to make the hard decisions: Leaders are there for a reason. We’re there to set a course, to plot the way, to make decisions. Not every decision we face will be easy. We’ll have to make some really difficult choices.

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 — 24 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.