Failure sucks and we lack tools to help us deal with it. Instead, we know more about how to be successful. You typically hear about how to do things right, but not much about how to handle a situation, or handle yourself, when things go wrong.
There are many lists detailing the habits or mindsets of successful leaders. The word “failure” doesn’t appear often (or at all in some cases), yet the word is only given lip service as a needed thing to get success. A failure is an event that weeds out the weak from the strong. Whether you see failure as a plague or as a stepping stone to better things, you got to understand it will happen.
Ideally, in surviving failure events, you’ll seize the opportunity to adjust your processes and gain more information—things you should do regularly—to get a better outcome next time for your career and your team. Here are four strategies to help you handle failure.
DON’T TAKE FAILURE (TOO) PERSONALLY
“Failure is an event, not a person.” ~ Zig Ziglar, author and salesman.
Managers like yourself can get stuck dwelling about a recent failure and then think of yourself as a failure. You contributed to the failure, even if you did not directly cause it. However, failure is an event and other events will follow it. You have another opportunity to get things to click (hopefully).
HAVE NO EXCUSES FOR YOUR FAILURE
Remember the question from your interview, “How do you handle failure?” Your answer revealed your level of composure, energy, focus, and self-confidence. Do you have the guts to admit you made a mistake? Eating humble pie is hard, but you become stronger and a better leader. Your admittance to the mistakes enlightens you to reasons on how and why things went sideways.
SEEK AID TO PREVENT FAILURE
Failure happens within (or to) organizations because of missing pieces—a person, insight, specialized experience, conviction, or common sense. You fail for many reasons. You need to improve by seeking help. Seek feedback from a trusted peer, a mentor, or your director. Get information from articles, podcasts, webinars, or books. You need to add to your bag of tricks so that you don’t crash and burn again.
DON’T LET FAILURE BE A HABIT
In paraphrasing former Disney chief executive Michael Eisner, don’t fall into the habit of being bad. It’s actually insane. Break the cycle by getting out of your comfort zone and gaining traction in a new direction. You know your strengths and weaknesses because failure exposed them—capitalize on the opportunities to do something new and different!
Failure in general is when you decide to wash in mud instead of using soap to clean yourself up. Pressing forward with these strategies will advance you past the event and take you a step closer to success. Let the hard times provide you with an opportunity to grow as a leader.
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