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Surviving failure makes you stronger


Failure is a natural part of business.

An article by Tim Herrera in the business section of NY Times, Feb. 18, makes three points on failure:
-failure is inevitable,
-you can learn from failure, and
-when failure happens, “write it down” and analyze the reasons that you failed.

When I taught Management at Wheaton College, I would invite a psychologist to speak to the first class about getting to know one’s own personality and, as a result, learn how to work with others and failure. More to the point, how to deal with it.

Failure is not something we like to admit. It can be shocking, bewildering, and embarrassing. How we deal with failure, however, is what matters. Every stock picker is said to be a genius when his/her picks go up, but when the market turns south, and the winners become losers, and suddenly, he/she doesn’t look so smart. It happens.

Some failures are no big deals—they fall into the category of mistakes or oops. Others are whoppers. We are lucky to avoid the big ones.

A missed diagnosis, missing a one-and-one free throw with no time left on the clock, giving the wrong coordinates to troops in the field for live fire… the list is endless. I pray our failures are more like mistakes than life-threatening or business enders.

When a failure occurs, step back and analyze what happened, why, and take steps to improve. Hard? You bet.

There is a tendency to beat yourself up, but over time the memory fades, so we can hold our heads up straight.

However, dealing with failure in a positive, constructive manner will make us wiser and better leaders in the long run.


Jim Carr is president and CEO of Blue Book Services Inc.