[August 18, 2014] Leaders intrinsically know that the failure to take steps to overcome failure is a recipe for disaster. Whether that failure is in others or themselves, we all believe there must be a formula to get beyond it. Despite this belief, scientists who study failure have discovered that there is a tendency to avoid doing much about it. Thus, failing to deal with failure is a feature that leaders must consciously attack and do so in focused and methodical way. They must also recognize that there is no secret formula to success without failure.
“Failure is success in progress.”
“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
– Albert Einstein
These are a couple of quotes from Albert Einstein, a pretty smart man, who experienced failures repeatedly in his lifetime. Yet he overcame them to make some of the most important breakthroughs in science ever. He knew that some people avoid doing anything about failure; the procrastinators. He also knew that there are people who keep doing the same thing over and over to overcome failure and while that works sometimes, often it does not.
Then, there are those who chose a different tactic to overcome failure. Those are the creative types and with determination, employing methods in the hope that something might actually work. Understanding that using another tactic is often fraught with more failure is critical to eventual success. Thomas Edison for example worked long days to figure out the exact material for his light bulb. Many material failures occurred before he hit upon the solution.
“You always pass failure on your way to success.” – Mickey Rooney
When senior leaders fail to deal with failure the results can be destructive for their organizations. There are many senior leaders throughout history and today who are failing themselves and the people they serve because they are either avoiding the hard work and disappointment required to deal with failure or they are employing ineffective solutions. Recognizing this is the first step to success. Weak minded leaders blame others for their failure. The strong recognize that failure is simply a stepping stone to success.
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