Learning through Failure

“Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”

– Henry Ford

There has been plenty said about the myriad of things one can do to avoid mistakes. Proper planning, quality control, and general foresight all play a part of the sort of crisis aversion that is typical in most businesses. However, mistakes occur, no matter how much foresight one has or how much planning they do. Humans have a tendency (when mistakes occur) to quickly brush them under the rug as quickly as possible; when we think there is a simple solution in sight, we tend to somewhat disregard the original mistake. Studies show, that failure can often lead to the best results in regard to learning and progression. In a sense, success is often better achieved by smaller failures, as ridiculous as that may sound.

It is important to realize that mistakes are a part of everyone’s success, even those you may view as industry giants. The handling of failures is first all about perception. Failures must be viewed in a constructive light. Don’t just think “Why did this happen to me?” or “Who else is to blame?” But rather, “How can I make sure this doesn’t happen again?” and “Have I learned anything new about my situation during this process?” Though mistakes and their fallout can be stressful, it’s sometimes best not to immediately move on, for more knowledge can be gained while the mistake is still fresh in your mind.

Research shows that the classical idea of “failure as a motivator” can ultimately be detrimental. That being said, failure can still be used to motivate, it just shouldn’t be out of fear. Embracing failure as a tool and jumping point rather than an overpowering detrimental force can relate to a tremendous improvement in the handling of future mistakes as well as future successes.

Kelly D. Scott
The world’s leading business advisory and executive coaching organization