Embrace you successes, and more importantly, your failures. They are antonyms, and yet you generally can’t have one without the other. This symbiotic relationship between seemingly opposite experiences is as necessary and certain as the sun setting before it rises again. As Winston Churchill once said, “success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”
In life success and failure are entangled and only those who embrace failure will experience the pay-off of success – especially in business. True leadership means taking responsibility for failure as well as success. Only when someone accepts there is no one else to blame, then and only then can he or she develop a plan to succeed. It is a difficult truth. But taking ownership means accepting that you are the source of the problem. You are the only thing you can change or control. So, if there is a difficulty, own it. Never blame anyone else. Have confidence that by changing yourself, you can change the environment, too. Leaders who do this are far more likely to inspire the kind of loyalty and trust that makes companies succeed.
At THP, we try to empower all team members to act as if they are the owners of the enterprise as well: to take responsibility for their successes and mistakes; to stay authentic and retain their integrity. If they stay true to what they believe and are open about what is working or not working, then they can successfully address problems, drive results, and improve performance.
Company cultures that understand and embrace failure are the same ones that enable employees to innovate and change the world. Google is one such company, where employees are encouraged to dream big, present seemingly impossible ideas, and “kill” concepts that simply won’t work -even if they’ve been invested in for months or years.
Astro Teller, Director of Alphabet’s (Google’s parent company) “moonshot” R&D division, called X gave an incredibly interesting TED talk on this very topic, discussing how they’ve created a culture that rewards failure. In that talk he said, “People worry, ‘What will happen to me if I fail? Will people laugh at me? Will I be fired?’ The only way to get people to work on big, risky things…audacious ideas, and have them run at all the hardest parts of the problem first, is if you make that the path of least resistance…We work hard at X to make it safe to fail…They are rewarded for it.”
When one learns to not only take responsibility for their failures, but use them for future opportunity, then great success will be theirs. Read more about my thoughts on failure in an older blog, The Importance of Failing.