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Failure: The Secret to Success

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Making a decision at work sometimes feels like sliding a quarter down a slot machine. Every chance taken is a gamble between success and failure. But without placing bets or playing cards, can we find success and make our dreams reality?

Honda’s tagline, “The Power of Dreams,” offers a grand vision of what is possible. Company founder Soichiro Honda inspired his employees by making just one demand: to take risks and fail. The video clip below (direct link here) provides an in-depth look at how Honda’s failures, though taxing, influenced and ensured a pathway to success.

Calculated risks in the workplace are far from easy to make. Yet, without change, you guarantee a future of stagnation.  Organizations should encourage creativity and embrace failure as evidence of boldness and a desire to improve. A business willing to gamble on new ideas and ready to listen to any stakeholder is the only one that can win big.


© Flickr user Emertz76

The old Wayne Gretzky quote “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take” has basically become a cliche at this point, but the reason it’s repeated so much is it’s so true. If you aren’t taking shots, you aren’t going to be able to score. If you aren’t taking risks with your business, you aren’t going to be able to succeed. And if you aren’t striving for great success, then you’re likely just wasting your time and the time of those you work with.

Robby Slaughter elaborates on this topic further in his book, Failure: The Secret To Success. We’ve included a sample from that below.

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 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. If we don’t sign up for that committee, we can’t be held responsible for any future mistakes. If we don’t apply for that premier university, we will not be rejected.

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.

All of this discussion about failure may seem less than encouraging. After all, we can all look back in our lives at the times where we went wrong and feel regret. You may be thinking that you’d rather not revisit those embarrassing memories. If failure is so essential, why is it still so frustrating? Do we really have to be ready to fail again and take on all of the negative consequences of our next disaster?

The answer may not be what you expect. Failure is essential. Failure will continue to be part of your life. Fortunately, by adopting a new perspective on how failure can actually help, you will be able to achieve more.

If your company finds failure difficult to accept, opportunity from mistakes impossible to see, or a problematic drop in its competitive edge, contact the business improvement experts at AccelaWork for a consultation. We help for-profit and non-profit organizations analyze their own workflow and help them to build out new ideas into successful business practices. We have spoken before on the fact that success requires taking risks, and taking risks means making mistakes. Pursue success by looking inward at business processes with AccelaWork.

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