Managing Failure

There was a manager who made a series of decisions that lost his company a ton of money. He assumed his boss, Mr. Watson, would fire him. But after hearing the manager’s side of the story Mr. Watson said, “We can’t fire you, we’ve invested too much in your education.”

managing failure

Wouldn’t it be great if all bosses were like Mr. Watson? The best bosses are. They discourage laziness and carelessness, but they also encourage experimentation and risk-taking. Because there’s nothing wrong with honest mistakes, unless you keep making the same mistakes over and over again.

You can make the most mistakes by learning what not to do again. Scientists look at mistakes as steps on the way to discover, the most valuable part of the process of elimination, identifying the dead ends.

Never regret mistakes. Just don’t forget to look for the unexpected wonders mistakes are famous for creating. Like Ivory Soap. As the legend goes, someone left a batch of ingredients cooking a little too long and the soap came out full of air. We don’t know if the cooks were fired or not, but the company, Procter & Gamble, sent the botched soap home with their employees. Soon word got back to the top brass that everyone loved the “soap that floats!” You know the rest.

And let’s not forget that discovering America was an accident. For what he set out to do, find a route to the Far East, Columbus might be considered a failure. But he certainly made the most of what he encountered. No discovery is a failure, unless we have our minds made up about what we are going to find. So if your mind isn’t made up about Columbus, applaud your own spirit of discovery.

Always make the most of whatever happens. And don’t just let things happen. Make things happen!

Image: © Juice Images/Corbis


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