Why Failure is Necessary for Success
More to the point, I fear failure. It’s a major pain-in-the-ass disruption to the carefully structured images we create for ourselves – those beautiful Greek-statue marbled facades from whence we derive so much self-assurance and self-worth.
But, alas, ladies and gentlemen, failure is inevitable in this life, in our work, in our relationships, so we best gird our loins.
The sneaky good news, though, is that failure generally fails to destroy us. Yes, this is failure’s dirty little secret. You may be scraped up after a bruising setback , or even crumpled up in a heap on the floor for a while – but know this: you will survive. You will get up the next day, or the next week, and go back into the ring. In fact, there is usually something good that comes from failure – like, your next breakthrough, for instance.
Case in point: I was once working diligently on a strategic growth initiative to secure a significant asset acquisition (which is secret business code for, “let’s buy a big stinking business”).
It wasn’t going so well.
Upon identification of a worthy acquisition target, these things are generally presented to our Board of Directors, who meet quarterly, for approval. After several months of scrounging and sweating, I was all worked up and excited to bring my first potential deal to the board, which I delivered with a great deal of persuasive conviction.
Unfortunately, it was promptly shot down in equal measure as the Board members raised several concerns. This sort of rejection hadn’t happened to me for quite some time. It felt like a failure.
After the initial sting wore off, I spent the next few months revising my strategy, taking their concerns into account, determined to come back swinging. Next quarter, I returned before the Board with another deal in hand, surely superior to the last. Once again, however, the Board was uncomfortable with it, unable to come to a majority vote of approval.
Twice? This had never happened to me before. I worried I was losing my edge. Along with my job.
Not only that, but it felt as if I had been spinning my wheels for the past six months, having put in all this time and effort with nothing to show for it. There is nothing more frustrating than the passing of time as you are standing in one place with no signs of progress.
Except for the thickening of my skin, I suppose. That’s progress, right?
I respectfully incorporated the Board’s second wave of observations and went back to the drawing board. The third time is a charm, as they say, and sure enough, the third deal was enthusiastically approved. It was as if those previous two duds had never even transpired!
Basking in the glow of the green light, it dawned on me - it took the first few failures to get to the third success.
In retrospect, it was obvious that we all needed the experience learned from the first two failed proposed deals in order to gain confidence for moving forward with the third. Plus, the third deal, which wasn’t on the market previously, was miles ahead of the other two in terms of quality and long-term benefit$ to the organization.
Dare we say God’s hand was at work?