Did you spin or stomp on failure?
Your Friday Trigger Question (tq104)
The on-line universe is littered with dippy success jingles linked to failure. Turn-every-failure-into-success. Fail-your-way-to-success. Failure-is-life's-greatest-teacher. The-secret-to-success-is-failure. And so on.
Why, I wonder, is it necessary to state the obvious so often and so seriously? (Surely, we confident strollers all once failed at crawling.)
Because, I suppose, some of us fail. And fail to try again. Or we fail and fail again, and again. Until we are so used to failing that failing becomes a comfort.
Which is why some of us need reminding that failure does not have to be a stepping stone to… failure. That failure can buy us time. That he who tries and fails today, lives to try another day (with apologies to Bob Marley who gave us The Heathen.)
And yet, some failures should be just that. Failures. Stomped on and left for dead.
Your job as a manager (and in life) is to judge which ones to stomp and which ones to spin. Spin? Yes, spin. Because you cannot go from failure to success without tweaking what went wrong until it goes right. Spin is what you must do to convince your troops that this new tweak is enough of a change in the right direction.
Which is why a huge part of being an effective manager is the ability to change direction when required without losing momentum, whether in the form of morale or progress.
Did I use the word troops earlier? Yes, and here's why. Early in the Korean War Major General Oliver Smith realized that the only way to save his Marine Division from a trap was to retreat rapidly and orderly. Asked whether retreat was the Marine thing to do, he replied, “Retreat, hell! We’re not retreating, we’re just advancing in a different direction.”
Still, I cannot help thinking that many of the jingles I find dippy fail to spin me because they try too hard to put a positive turn on the burn of a bungle.
Your Friday Trigger Question:
Did you spin or stomp on failure? (Did you retreat or advance in a different direction?)
Welcome to my side of the
nonsense failure divide.
For more on Major General Oliver Smith:
2. Time Magazine: 25 September 1950
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