I read a lot of books that deconstruct people and businesses that I admire. I’m especially fond of hearing about the blunders of the unbelievably successful. If it’s one thing I’ve learned in the past few months (from reading and from living), it’s how to fail like a pro. And not you can too if you follow these simple rules.
Give up comparisons.
Stop comparing yourself to your friends, schoolmates, colleagues and neighbours. You will always finds ways in which they’re doing better than you are and that will make you feel like crap. Focus on yourself, your journey, your happiness and take the actions that make sense for you and your business regardless of where the status quo is hovering. Why, oh why would you wanna be more average anyway?
Take responsibility. Do not place blame.
Responsibility is a good thing. That’s why we give kids piggy banks and starter pets. Blame on the other hand…. ick. It’s a pointless game of “pass the guilt” that ends in someone getting hurt or fired or jaded for life. We don’t need blame, least of all self-blame.
When you start a project, make it clear what your goals are and what you are responsible for. If something goes wrong on your watch, own it. ‘Fess up. Say “I mucked it up. I’m really sorry. This is what we can do to make it right.” And then fix it. You’ll earn people’s respect and you’re save everyone a ton of finger-pointing and weeks or months of bad vibes.
Examine your poop.
Otherwise known as asking a bunch of questions. Instead of thinking of a failed project, mission or idea as something to be flushed away as soon as possible and never to be seen again, reframe it as a lesson. Chances are there was nothing about your aim itself that was doomed to fail. Henry Ford brought the V8 engine to the market after numerous failed attempts and tons of nay-saying from experts and engineers. So my bet is that by tweaking your process a bit, you could reach your goal.
So look back and do some root cause analysis. Look for turning points. My favourite method is the 5 Why’s. Assemble your team and do the exercise together. You’ll be surprised what you can learn by imitating a 5-year-old in a work environment.
You can’t do it alone. You don’t have all the answers. Even if you work alone, you will need outside input to keep you on track. A good approach is to proactively seek feedback from those whose opinions you value. Don’t just wait until the end, when things aren’t working to start asking how you can fix it. Get the opinions in early, weigh their worth, and chart a course. Let that course include check-points where you seek and gather more input. If you fail along the way, you now have a map. And you can use that map to correct your course and try again. It’s not the end unless you give up.
Love yourself. Love what you’re doing. Love who you’re doing it with. This is a sure-fire way to stave off the negative emotions that come along with failure. Stay kind, stay open and keep moving forwards.