A few months ago, I was coaching a woman who told me that she was having difficulty helping her team move forward, because one of the projects she was responsible for failed.
Failed, as in, she and her team wasted millions of dollars and countless days trying to build their own software and missed a critical delivery date, so her company chose to invest in a pre-made product instead. The only thing salvageable from their toil was lessons learned. She very much felt the weight of this failure.
That day, we coached through how to overcome failure. She agreed that everyone hates to fail. What she didn’t see at the beginning of our conversation is that failing is part of success. Anyone who has ever succeeded has failed many times. So, how do you overcome failure?
Here are 5 keys to overcoming failure.
1. Learn From Your Mistakes and Failures
How did you learn to ride a bike? The short answer: you fell off 100 times. Every time you make a mistake or fail, learn as much as you can from it so that you are better prepared next time. My client spent hours with her team debriefing with her team so that they knew what had happened, where they got off track and how to course correct going forward. Each team member wrote down the top five things they learned from their failure.
2. Don’t Dwell on It
Initially, my client said that it was hard for the team to move on as the project had consumed their lives for a good period of time. She realized that she needed to get everyone moving forward, away from the failure so that the conversation would change from “what if” and “we should have” to “how can I succeed with this new project?” As everyone got busy with new goals, she heard the shift happen.
3. Don’t Be Afraid to Try Again
Don’t let the fear from your last failure stop you from reaching your greatness, goal, dream, or potential. Just like learning to ride that bike, you didn’t fall once or twice and then give up. The new project my client had for her staff was another custom-build. She said there was a lot of trepidation at first. She sensed people were hesitant to try again and possibly fail. She eventually got each team member to see that they were better prepared now to make this project a success. And with the new confidence, they were full steam ahead again.
4. Surround Yourself with Positive People
Immediately after a failure, it can be hard to be around successful people. My client noticed that her team didn’t spend time with one of the other teams as much after the failure, because that team seemed to have success at every turn. She approached the leader of that group and asked him if he had ever failed. Without hesitation, he rattled off a number of failures in his past. She invited him to meet with her staff as they saw him as a highly successful leader. In front of her team, he again listed a number of failures, including one that everyone thought had always been a success. After the meeting, my client noticed her staff spending time with the other group again.
5. Realize Failure is Part of the Learning Curve
Failure and mistakes aren’t fun but they are what help us learn to be great at whatever it is we are trying to achieve. “There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.”
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