In the words of Colin Powell, “There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.” I will admit something that may surprise you. I am good at failure. In fact, you might say that I have perfected it. It’s true. I have found that in almost any task, project, or initiative that there many ways to do something wrong, before you learn the one way to do it right. This lesson is imperative to learn early on in your leadership career.
Often times, leaders feel the need to be that stoic figure that has the perfect plan. They feel that they must project that they are omniscient in their role, otherwise nobody will follow them. This sort of thinking is flawed. With any task, especially if they are complex or particularly difficult, there is often a trial and error process to find what the solution is.
Don’t fail to plan, plan to fail
So wait, we need to plan to fail? Well, yes in some ways we must plan to fail. When you plan to fail, you are less likely to be surprised when something doesn’t work. You learn to recognize and define failure before you start, which is sometimes just as important (if not more) than finding success after you start.
You are skeptical, aren’t you? I was too, but the more I approach this concept, the more I become a believer. When you plan to fail, you are no longer afraid of failure. Making decisions out of fear is perhaps the worst place to be in business. When you are afraid to make decisions because of failure you stifle the creative juices that are needed to percolate ingenuity and innovation. You start to suffer from analysis paralysis. By trying to reduce risk you actually increase it.
If you’re not failing, your not growing
Stop worrying about whether or not your perfect plan will fail, most likely – it will. Accept it, and then start making plans for how to mitigate around it. How will you handle it when it does? When you do this, you find that you won’t be stuck in the quicksand of failure but rather you will be agile and mobile enough to free yourself from the shackles of the moment.
Face it, you will fail, but you will be better for it. Once you do, you will become a better leader knowing that you are not afraid of what it might bring.