In the business world, the word ‘failure’ is thought of as a profane term with a powerfully pessimistic meaning. This deceptively derogatory word signifies the lack of success and in the cutthroat world of business; it is either eat or be eaten. The ideology that failure is unacceptable appears justifiable, but the fact is- no business is perfect. How should you handle failure?
Throughout my college education, the School of Business as well as the Department of Economics have always emphasized the belief that one must reflect on the decisions that one makes. There are some things you could have chosen to do better or differently; whether you are reflecting on the decisions of your business or in your personal life. In this refection, you can discover a series of tiny failures that may have caused you to lose a client or reduce your firm’s profits, but upon this reflection, you can see where improvements need to be made. When is failure good?
The words 'failure' and 'good' in the same sentence can seem like an oxymoron. To me, it is an irrefutable fact that wisdom is obtained when failure arises. It should be your goal to learn from what happened and change it to avoid consecutive downfalls. Business is a landscape that is always adapting; when you find something that doesn’t work, it’s important to change it. This is the perfect time to try something new to stay ahead of your competition. Why take the risk in trying something new?
Everything in life is a risk and every risk has a chance of failure. The inherent dichotomy between risk and reward is what gives risk its meaning. If every decision lead to guaranteed success, then everyone would be doing it and the line that differentiates you from your competition would wane. Failure, among many things, teaches persistence and perseverance. Unfortunately, society doesn’t highlight the fact that Edison failed to create the light bulb nearly 1000 times; instead he is idolized for successfully creating it. After every failure, Edison learned exactly how not to construct a light bulb. It is in these failures that Edison leaned to achieve greatness.
Failure isn’t fatal for one’s career or in one’s life because it teaches us lessons that become ingrained in our lives. Everyone can relate to a time where we have that flushed, overwhelming feeling because you think your failure is the end of the world. But it is how you pick yourself up from here that defines your character. This past weekend I was speaking with the family of one of my best friends. They have acted as mentors in my life and have helped guide me through some tough situation. Their advice to me was to embrace failure; no matter what your mistake is. It's a lot easier to own up to your wrongs and protect your reputation than messing up, passing on the blame, and ultimately learn nothing.
When walking past AltaFlux’s corner office that overlooks the city of Troy, Michigan, you’ll see a sign on the wall that says “Fail.Fast.” This sign represents the ideology held by Vijay N. and the ‘Learning Culture’ he has successfully created at AltaFlux. At AltaFlux, no one is afraid to admit when they are wrong or when they have messed up; instead, employees embrace these opportunities as learning experiences and are better prepared for next time. When is failure fatal?
Failure is most detrimental when nothing is learned from its teachings. Making a not so sound investment or losing a client are all redeemable mistakes, but doing nothing to learn from that mistake will dig your hole deeper. A quote by famed author J.K. Rowling during a commencement speech at Harvard University shows just how important failure is in life. It is as follows:
“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default.” — J.K. Rowling
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AltaFlux Corporation is a global HCM cloud consulting partner based in Troy, Michigan. We empower organizations by streamlining, transforming, and optimizing key human capital management (HCM) processes with industry-leading HCM cloud solutions like SAP SuccessFactors, Benefitfocus, WorkForce Software and Dell Boomi.