top of page


Recently, I coached an executive who experienced a very public, spectacular failure. As a result of this failure, investor money was lost, jobs disappeared, and hope, optimism and vision were (temporarily) replaced by condemnation, shame and disillusionment.


“Failure” has a way of doing that to each of us.


Here’s an Inevitable Truth: You Will Fail.


Many leaders—presidents/CEOs , vice presidents, board members or senior managers—struggle in creating the optimal results they desire.


It’s not that they are not intelligent, committed, or successful—they simply fall short against realizing their vision, and struggle for the results and growth they desire. 


Stung by past failures to hit the mark, many leaders react by holding back and hedging—the leadership equivalent of simultaneously driving with one foot on the gas and one on the brake.


But, instead of desperately seeking to avoid failure, let’s take a moment to discuss and de-mystify failure.



Redefining Failure

The word failure is frequently charged—thus evoking a charged defense. When the word failure is used in the presence of a leader, the immediate reaction is to draw metaphorical swords, as if some personal honor is attacked. Suddenly, the leader begins puffs, postures and defends, deflects or denies.


For the purposes of our conversation, let’s redefine failure. For our purposes, failure is defined as anything that does not yield the achievement of your desired results. Through this definition, failure is not a moral concept, self-judgment or a weakness, it is simply a breakdown or series of breakdowns that took you and your organization off-track from what you want to achieve


Truth #1: Failure is Essential

 QuestionHow many of you walked the first time you tried? (Hint: Zero)


You and I learned to walk by crawling, reaching, steadying, falling, reaching, steadying, falling, refining, growing stronger, gaining balance, falling, steadying, finding balance, tentatively taking steps, falling, growing stronger, gaining balance, steadying, and then (finally) walking. 


Falling (failing) was a necessary part of your process. Failure (falling) was essential to everyone who now effortlessly walks throughout their lives. 


Every step—from first steps to ultramarathons—is rooted in failure. The difference is that most used the failure to move forward. 


Failure is an organic, essential, foundational piece of the growth/success experience. It’s how we learn, adapt, grow and succeed. Failure is what you must do as a leader.


Truth #2: Embracing Failure is a Leadership Key


As a modern leader, you must begin to redefine and embrace the word failure, and begin to own that failures occur—frequently. 


Further, failure serves the purpose of helping leaders grow.

We avoid what we fear. And, if we fear failure, we will seek to avoid it at all costs. But, in doing so, we also avoid a full range of possibilities that come with that potential for failure, which in turn either perpetuates small, achievable and unfulfilling successes, or eventually invites greater, catastrophic failure—neither of which create the professional impact or legacy many leaders are looking for.

To truly fulfill your professional and organizational potential, you must be willing to make friends with your fears, beginning with your fear of failure.


How to Use Failure

 “I have not failed 10,000 times—I've successfully found 10,000 ways that will not work.

—Thomas A. Edison


You have a clear big vision and a desire for a powerful professional legacy. The only way you will achieve these moonshots is to dare greatly and accept that failure is essential. 

In order to dare (and achieve) greatly, you must stop seeking to avoid failure. You must disempower all the concern and wasted effort spent evading it, and instead allow your inspiration, energy and intelligence to channel into visions and actions that create greatly. 


To achieve greatly, you must be willing to fail greatly. Are you?


If this leadership concern rings true for you, contact me today to schedule a complimentary, confidential discussion.


For more than two decades, heads of state, CEOs and Executive Leaders around the world have sought me out to serve as their trusted advisor. Let’s discuss how best to co-design a different, more effective way of leading that yields greater results and legacy, with increased fulfillment, satisfaction, and peace of mind.


0 views0 comments


bottom of page