I am a Failure

There, I’ve said it: I am a failure. I’ve failed at many things in my personal and professional journey along the way to the successful life I live today. And I still fail at things now and then. Who doesn’t? Failing is a necessary step to success. It’s just that most people only talk about their successes, telling only half the story. Or more likely, less than half.

I got thinking about this after reading a couple of recent articles about people failing on the way to success in two different walks of life. The first one, from last week’s NY Times, was about serial inventor Sir James Dyson who said, “I actually believe that success teaches you nothing; failures teach you everything.”

The second article was posted on CNBC last week about a Princeton professor who said, “Most of what I try fails, but these failures are often invisible, while the successes are visible.” Johannes Haushofer posted his CV of Failures online to prove his point that “projecting only success and never recognizing failure has damaging effects.”

In the context of successful workplace communications this brings up two points.

First, it’s important to realize that you can ‘fail your way to success’ in this arena just like any other. But there are shortcuts you can take along the way to minimize the failures and get to success much quicker. That’s what working with successful companies (like us) who have “been there, done that” is all about. We’ve made the mistakes you’re about to, and can help you avoid them.

The second point is to be human when communicating to your employees. Let them know that you – or your CEO or other managers – make mistakes and learn from them. And that you expect them to make mistakes too, that this is the path to success. When employees know that, not only are mistakes accepted but are expected, it frees up their minds to be more open, creative and productive.

I’ll end with a few of my favorite quotes on failure:

Success is 99 percent failure. – Soichiro Honda, Founder, Honda Motor Company

Failure is something we can avoid only by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing. – Denis Waitley, American Writer & Speaker

Failures, repeated failures, are finger posts on the road to achievement. The only time you don’t fail is the last time you try something, and it works. One fails forward toward success.”. – Charles F. Kettering, Founder, Delco Auto Parts.

Frank Kenna III
May 3, 2016

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