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Taking Risks and Embracing Failure

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Cathie Black, chairman of Hearst Magazines, published a book that unveils her secrets to success. Interestingly enough, much like AccelaWork, her tips encourage readers to embrace failure and take risks.

Ten tips from Black’s book, Basic Black: The Essential Guide for Getting Ahead at Work (and In Life), were highlighted on’s blog. Below are three of these points that deal directly with failure and risk:

Playing It Safe Can Backfire: Most people see taking risks as opening themselves up to unnecessary, maybe even dangerous chances. But the truth is, avoiding risks won’t keep you safe, nor will it guarantee a smooth ride at work or in life.

Failing = Success: The consequences of failure — just like the potential consequences of taking risks — are almost never as terrible as they seem.

Have a No-Surprises Policy: Never surprise your boss. If you have bad news, tell it. If you have good news, share it. For one thing, no one likes to feel out of the loop. And for another, hiding a crisis from someone who needs to know virtually guarantees the problem will be compounded.

Be A Little Naughty: Rule breaking is an underappreciated and underutilized skill. . . .  trust [your] ideas and [yourself] enough to know which rules to break. If you look at any list of highly successful people, it’s invariably populated with rule breakers — from college dropouts like Bill Gates to female trailblazers like eBay’s Meg Whitman to Internet wunderkinds like Google cofounders Sergey Brin and Larry Page.

Trusting yourself enough to take risks and experience failure is a great method for achieving success. Thinking outside the box, and realizing that when you mess up it isn’t the end of the world is the only way to ensure you reach the heights you hope to. In the book Failure: The Secret To Success, AccelaWork’s founder Robby Slaughter discusses just how beneficial such thinking can be. Below are short excerpts from chapters one and nine of his book:

Chapter 1: Failure IS An Option

There is an easy way to avoid failure: attempt nothing. This is the route many of us pursue when we encounter a challenging project or a difficult decision. Failure seems like such a black mark on our record that we often try to escape the pangs of error by not taking risks. We sometimes avoid the possibility of screwing up by refusing to venture outside our safety zone.

This strategy does work. But there is a tragic side effect to insulating ourselves from the possibility of failure. If we refuse to take chances that could lead to major errors we also miss the opportunity for significant wins. You cannot have great success without great failure.”

Chapter 9: Winning By Failing

To do what is right, great or brilliant, we often have to first go down the wrong path, build a broken version or suffer from the embarrassment of our mistakes. Doing wrong leads to doing right. Winning starts with failing.


© Flickr user Md saad andalib

It’s never easy to step outside the comfort zone; even when we know it can lead to great things. That’s why we must first permit ourselves to fail. Stop following the norm—make a mess, avoid recommended tools, operate out of order. Taking steps such as these can inevitably change perspective and help bring to light processes that may have been overlooked or underestimated.

To read further text and/or order a copy of Failure: The Secret To Success, visit the book’s website. To learn more about how AccelaWork can assist your organization in transforming processes, contact our business improvement experts today. We’ll get you and your organization headed in the right direction.

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