Are you grateful for your failures?

Most of us find it difficult to be grateful for our failures. Its not part of the UK culture. We incorrectly assume that a failed project implies a failed person. This means that we react in a very negative way.

Here are a few common but negative reactions:

  • Don’t own up to problems
  • We hide them from others
  • We pretend they didn’t happen.
  • We blame someone else.
  • We redefine the objective so we don’t look as bad.
  • We let problems stew. This means that they get bigger before acting to resolve them.

Contrast this with an attitude that treats failures and problems are a natural part of life. 

We are only human and things don’t always work out as wanted.

We live in a world where a heroic failure is often remembered fondly, whereas a modest success is easily forgotten. It is worth taking a risk and striving for that big goal.

Welcome your Failures

Failure is an opportunity to learn and get better.

Innovators and entrepreneurs “welcome failures” as it gives them an opportunity to learn and do better. This is critical success criteria especially when it is accompanied with the drive and will to carryon in the face of adversity.

Don’t confuse this positive attitude to failure with being slap dash:

  • We should work hard to achieve the desired results.
  • We shouldn’t aim to fail or accept failure as inevitable.
  • We shouldn’t aim for perfection. Be realistic - good enough – do not over engineer.
  • We shouldn’t lower our standards or accept shoddy work.

What can you do better?

“Pick Yourself Up” a popular song from the 50’s really captures the essence of positive failure and teaches us a great way to react to and learn from our failures. 

Pick Yourself Up

Written by - Jerome Kern & Dorothy Fields

Nothing's impossible I have found
For when my chin is on the ground
I pick myself up, dust myself off and start all over again

Don't lose your confidence if you slip
Be grateful for a pleasant trip
And pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start all over again

Work like a soul inspired till the battle of the day is won


What are you going to do to …?

Pick yourself up

Failure isn’t the end

  • Lick your wounds quickly.
  • Was it right environment for success?
  • What went well what could be done better?
  • Perhaps it was an idea that is ahead of its time!

Dust Yourself off

Prepare yourself for next time:

  • If you do the same, you will probably get the same outcome. So ……
  • What can you do better / differently?
  • Look for opportunities in what looks like a bad situation.

Start all over again

Every day is a new day,

   with it comes new opportunities.

  • Decide what you are going to do and when you are going to act.
  • Make a commitment - Tell someone else, perhaps a customer or someone you respect.
  • Start straight away - If you fall off your bike - Climb back on your as soon as you can!


Fail Quickly => Succeed Quicker

Consider the disappointment of failure after you have worked on something for months. Alternatively, if work is exposed to feedback at an early stage then we can:

  • Stop doing the wrong things quicker!
  • Reduce the cost of failure.
  • Divert valuable effort onto more profitable ventures.

Experience shows that agile methods have much less wasted effort and real customer value is delivered quicker.

Avoid Critical Failures - Don’t Let Problems Stew

It is always better to face up to a problem as soon it appears rather than do nothing letting it stew until it escalates and becomes a critical failure. The latter approach will always lead to disaster and poisoned relationships.

How we react to failure is more important than the failure itself