Value of Failure

Sam Walton once stated that his ability to make good decisions was developed by making bad ones.

Many decisions are made with insufficient data or experience. Ultimately, we make decisions based on the experiences and knowledge we’ve accumulated.

I find most people who are reluctant to make decisions are afraid of failure. Fear of failure leads to a risk-free existence trapped within the narrow walls of certainty. And where does that lead? Stagnation.

Failure is important, you shouldn’t fear it.

There is a positive side to failure. To use a ranching metaphor, you can’t become a good horseman until you’ve fallen off the horse. Failure, screwing up and making bad choices, these are sources of learning and development of expertise.

Teach your staff it’s incumbent upon them to fail with intent and purpose. Find opportunities for them to try, fail, and still be OK, often referred to as penalty-free environments. When they do, make sure the lesson clear, learned, applied, and shared.

As a leader, it’s incumbent upon you to develop your staff. Don’t waste time telling them what to do and what to avoid. Telling them what to do makes you a micro manager, telling them what to avoid makes them want to do it.

As your workforce develops and grows, they are bound to make mistakes. Giving staff penalty-free opportunities to fail helps them learn from their mistakes; mistakes that often lead to enhanced skills, creative new ideas, and untold profits…when failure is seen as an opportunity to learn, not something to be avoided.

When our decisions are litmus tests of veracity and credibility, the cost of a mistake can be monumental. When seen as earnest efforts to learn and grow, they can be heroic.

Your company will be stronger when staff develop an accurate sense of risk and know how to create boundaries. Your company will be better because you’re growing their knowledge and experience.



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