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Failing Successfully

October 16, 2015 by Curtin CEL Team

Failing Successfully

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
– Thomas A. Edison

We put a lot of emphasis on achieving success, but not so much on successfully having the courage to try. To progress in your career, the first step is to try – knowing that failing can be ok, and is momentary. Harnessing the opportunity to learn and grow from ‘failings,’ will get you that bit closer to your goals with each and every setback.

So how do you fail well?

Without making excuses or blaming others, be accountable. You can lose credibility and trust with your colleagues (or the public) if you don’t accept responsibility.

For example, maybe a project didn’t work out so well – take some time to reflect on the reasons and what you could have done differently. You don’t need to get defensive, no one’s perfect and sometimes things just can’t be foreseen.

Where possible, offer a solution to the problem. “I have realised that the project is not performing as well as I’d expected, I’m going to implement x, y, z to improve the outcome,” shows professionalism and resilience. Don’t hide problems, and avoid complaining at all costs.

Handle Your Emotions
You can of course be disappointed, but letting emotions get the better of you isn’t productive. Seeking support is important – you don’t have to hide your feelings. However, within a professional environment, sulking or angry outbursts will only push people away and damage your reputation.

Understand the Failure
Alan George Lafley, Chairman of the Board, President, and Chief Executive Officer of Procter & Gamble, says, “We learn much more from failure than we do from success.” Failures are lessons learned if we work to understand how they happened and grow from them. Seek the feedback of people you trust and value. Consider formalising a checklist of recommendations to guide yourself and others in similar situations in the future.

No Regrets
If you put in 100% and still don’t get the outcome you hoped for, be proud of the fact that you tried. Without an element of risk, you’re not likely to achieve great success. Take a breath and look forward.

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
– Winston Churchill

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