Failure - A Lesson in Success

Blog Post created by sarah.buffington Advocate on Mar 16, 2015

Consider this – failure and success happen together. They need each other. They are not opposites.


Anyone who has ever succeeded at anything has failed along the way, and sometimes more than once. The key is to

learn how to benefit from failure in order to achieve success the next time, both personally and professionally.   


“Don’t be put off by failure. Work really hard to make your idea succeed. If it doesn’t, bow out gracefully,

and try again.”Richard Branson


In the corporate environment a majority of projects and initiatives fail for a variety of reasons – not enough time; no clear

deliverables; no executive sponsor; politics; not having the right resources – the list goes on and on. But rarely do

people/teams/management take the approach of analyzing root causes of failures in order to mitigate or eliminate future



Once you accept that analysis of a failure is a necessary and beneficial part of the process, you will learn to appreciate the

value it provides.



Some benefits of failure: 

     1-  Learn what not to do next time = “Lessons Learned”

     2-  A chance to start over with more knowledge, clarity, and insight

     3-  Use as a case study for training, strategic planning, and continuous improvement


What other benefits can you add to this list based on your experiences? 



Some strategies to consider as an individual:

     1-  define your own success because it means different things to different people, i.e. - respect; power; knowledge;

            titles; wealth; influence - to name a few

     2-  document your successes and failures. This will be especially helpful for analysis and reflection.

     3-  ask yourself questions when failure happens. What did I learn? Do I need to change the approach? If so, how?

            What factors were in my control? Which ones were not in my control?


Apply these in the broader corporate environment by including your team, peers and/or management.



Is this approach practical? Yes, especially if your company culture will embrace it.

Is this approach valuable? Yes, again especially if your company culture will embrace it.

Are there exceptions and/or extenuating circumstances? Yes, time and costs are huge factors.



"Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again." Nelson Mandela