Friday, December 16, 2011

Embracing Failure

To paraphrase and old saying, success has many parents, failure is an orphan. It's no wonder. Who wants to stand up and admit to being short sighted, duped, acting hastily, or just being down right dumb. I'll bet not to many out there. We have our pride and we want to protect it.

Yet the very sad truth is that we pay a huge cost to keep that pride intact by repeating the same failures over and over and over. In some cases, like for pilots, the cost of making a mistake can be very high. Surely we can do better.

In a great stroke of awesome some very brave folks are
stepping forward to take ownership of their most ugly offspring, their failures. Take for example those pilots. As Malcolm Gladwell pointed out in his piece on pilot error in his book Outliers, conditions that intensify our inherent aversion to look failure firmly in the eyes have lead to serious accidents and deaths. He took a fair bit of heat for some of the points that he made. What struck me about all this was the revelation that the aviation community did not take this lying down. In fact an entire field called crew resource management grown to address the failures in the cockpit and help everyone learn from them.

In other areas failure has begun to embraced as an opportunity for everyone to learn what doesn't work. The website Admitting Failure addresses flops in the nonprofit arena. In a heartfelt and enlightening talk 

David Damberger bravely copped to his own failure and high-lighted why it is so darn important for us all to do the same.

So while everyone is thinking about the new year and considering what resolutions would best serve your future, consider embracing failure. If you don't want to continue making the some old mistakes, or want to show your kids and others just what taking responsibility looks like, or you really want to make the world a better place it is the only way to go.

Do you have courage? If you do, please share. How have you failed lately?

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