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Re-frame Your Failures

December 12, 2014

Stop Trying to Hide Your Failures

Expecting and judging perfectIn the movie, Pitch Perfect, Brittany Snow (in pink) plays the part of an anal perfectionist, very judging of herself and others. Through the story line, she reveals how much she hates what she has become but her father had always demanded perfection. Is your company’s culture like her movie father?

Even though failure is praised in places like Silicon Valley, it’s still considered taboo in many workplaces. But the truth is that we need to experience failure in order to learn and grow. So how do we leverage a setback to succeed next time? First, we have to speak openly and honestly about our failures, so they are put into their proper context. Recognize that innovation requires failure. Reviewing with the boss what went well, what can be improved and how mistakes can be avoided next time is part of development. Defensiveness or going personal makes no sense in this type of conversation.

If you have a 100% success rate, you’re not doing anything new. Instead of hiding your mistakes, own your narrative. In some ways, it’s a re-framing: it’s not so much that you’re creating something (such as a product or service) that failed; it’s that you’re steadily improving a series of drafts. And remember, failure is ongoing. After all, stretch goals are things outside your wheelhouse that may not work out. But if you’re making new and different mistakes, that’s progress.

brittanysnow1Just like in the movie, the only thing that is perfect is the moment. Think about that. Strive to see the perfection in every situation but don’t let your own personal imperfection demotivate you.

Adapted from “Stop Believing That You Have to Be Perfect” by Dorie Clark.

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