10.16.16

Lean Into Failure with These Tips

By: Karl R. LaPan, President & CEO, Northeast Indiana Innovation Center

As humans, we are inclined to bury and forget our failures. That’s because failure hurts and recalling past mistakes in our personal or professional lives can conjure up some painful or unpleasant memories. Despite all that, each of us needs to lean into failure (sometimes called “pivots” in the start-up world); because when we acknowledge, appreciate and engage with our mistakes (learnings) and “do overs,” we can become a better-rounded individual and business person.

Below are some practices that might empower you to view failure and risk differently and take more control of your business’ trajectory.

  1. Make peace with failures from years past.
  2. Write down each of your major past business failures and share them with a mentor or trusted advisor. Practice saying, “This experience taught me ________________ and has prepared me to be ________________.” Being at home with failures that take up your mind space can open many powerful doors. This exercise also allows you to break old patterns that might be holding you back, make real changes and improve your future performance.

  3. Acknowledge that failure is part of the process.
  4. To fail at something doesn’t mean that you personally have failed. It only means you failed to perform in a particular area. Failure teaches us what didn’t work and allows us to consider other options that might even serve you better than the initial plan. When you learn to use failures as a launching pad for your next action, it can be fun!

  5. Process recent failures instead of compartmentalizing.
  6. Create a regular practice to dialogue about the details of your failures as they happen. Connecting with a trusted mentor or business associate about what you learned, how it made you feel, what you might do differently the next time etc., is conducive to mental health. We all need a safe environment to experiment and risk ourselves.

    The byproduct of this habit is that you consciously release any emotional baggage around failures which are left unresolved. Once again, by clearing the air, you will be more equipped to experience future failures in a more intentional and meaningful way.

  7. Celebrate your successes
  8. Create rituals that celebrate your successes along the way. Our tendency is to move on to the next big thing. Most importantly, acknowledging our failures takes courage. Be courageous because failure is inevitable, but how you recover, grow and change as a result of failure is squarely in each of our hands.

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