Few of us grow up thinking failure is a pathway to success. In fact, our natural instinct is to be ashamed of our failures, humiliated by them. But failure is not just a part of life, it is a fundamental element of success—a catalyst.
As a leader, you will face instances of failure – personal failures, professional failures, and failure on the part of your team members. The big question is, how are you going to handle it?
How do you quickly turn failures into successes?
Here is the five-step plan you can engage for yourself and share with your team.
1. Take a Step Back
Burnout in business is real, and it is often fed by or results in mistakes. While logic compels us to keep on going, push through, and take more risk, the fact is, there are times when you truly need to STOP. Taking a short break, a vacation, or spending time with family can reduce the burnout factor and its unintended consequences. Very often walking away for a short time helps your mind think more clearly and come up with solutions to the issues. For a team, this could be in the form of a corporate retreat. Getting away gives clear perspective to problems and begins to help formulate solid solutions.
2. Own It
It is important to openly acknowledge your mistakes, otherwise you can’t redeem yourself. You don’t have to apologize for your choices, but you do have to confront them so you can make better ones going forward. Harry Truman said it well, “The buck stops here.”
Look at your situation from every angle, and talk with others about it. Look for those people who will give you honest feedback. They could be your business advisors, friends, employees, co-workers, or family. The key is to listen, synthesize everything, and get the complete picture of your failure. Figure out what happened, and why. With your new perspective, look for ideas on how to move forward.
4. Stay Confident
Failure can be a huge blow to the ego, especially after steps two and three. It’s human. But, if you want to be a successful leader, you must let go of your failure and move forward with optimism and confidence. An occasional ego correction is both humbling and healing. It teaches us to make better decisions in the future. Realizing this is normal will help you regain your confidence to move on.
5. Revise and Refocus
Now you are ready to learn from your mistakes, improve, and find success from your failure. You simply can’t afford to spend time replaying the pity party or second-guessing yourself. Form a new plan of action and write it out on paper. Then embrace your new plan, and enjoy this new beginning. Consistent action yields consistent results. The mistake that caused the downturn can be a pivot point for the upturn if you consciously adjust your plan based on what you have learned.
Our greatest lessons come from mistakes and failures. Leaders don’t just see failures as an example of what not to do again. They try to learn everything possible, embracing failure as a way to learn how to do things right.
It takes determination, and with each lesson learned, you will pave the way to success.
Dave Ferguson is “The Leaders’ Coach”, an internationally recognized executive leadership coach, speaker, facilitator, and author. For help in getting past a mistake and on to the path to success, “ASK COACH DAVE” at 704-907-0171 or at Dave@AskCoachDave.com.