Excerpt from We all fail! How can we use failure to create greater success?

(Get your copy at http://ow.ly/Kp34R )

“Failure is inevitable. Failure is never final—unless you believe you don’t have a choice. It’s part of life. The question is, how do you handle it and not let it derail you? Thomas Edison found 1,000 ways not to make a lightbulb. Michael Jordan missed more baskets than he scored. Steve Jobs was fired by the company that brought him back to create his (and their) well-earned success.

Mostly, we haven’t learned how to handle failure. Failure is when things, people and situations don’t work out to our expectations. It’s why the divorce rate, employee turnover, business closures (in 2014, they were greater than the number of business start-ups) and financial bankruptcies have hit all-time highs. Instead of learning from our mistakes, creating systems that work and looking inward, we blame others or the situation while moving forward hoping failure won’t happen again. We fear others will think less of us if they know about our mistakes. We do our best to hide our failures, hoping they won’t resurrect their ugly heads in the future and expose us.”

We all make failure mean too much! How do we transform it into greater success?

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Fail Well for Success

You’ve often heard the phrase, “Failure is not an option.” The truth is failure does happen and it does happen often. Particularly to people that who take risks, people that focus on expanding their opportunities, implementing bigger ideas, and following their own paths, not paths designed by others.

We’ve all done our best to avoid failure or minimize it – yet, it shows up over and over. Our inability or unwillingness to address these life lessons makes it harder for us to succeed. Every achievement has a story of what didn’t work behind it – unfortunately, media doesn’t often share those struggles and what was learned during the process.

As business leaders, it’s important to learn how to handle mistakes and learn from them. Trying to cover them up, deny they happened, blame others, or allow our confidence to wane are not good choices. There’s no magical way to deal with or get past failure. Each person needs to work through their challenges one day at a time.

Why do failures hang around? There are failures that simply happen (e.g., the economy) and failures we could have prevented (e.g., implementing quality control procedures). We’ve created stories to minimize their impact or excuses to justify why they happened. Emotionally we hang onto the sadness, guilt and negativity, while failing to forgive ourselves and forgive others. Often, we continue to indulge in bad habits or stay in situations that are not healthy. The key is to recognize a potential problem and resolve it proactively.

How can we learn from failure faster? Hire a trusted advisor who can help you clarify what worked and what didn’t work. Take time to acknowledge that things didn’t work out as expected. Many times the actual outcome does not match up with our perceptions of “what should have happened.”

How do we fail well for success?

  • Write down your thoughts and feelings when the incident(s) happens. Don’t share your private journal with anyone. The act of writing can be cathartic when you simply express your thoughts on paper without concerns for grammar, punctuation, and word choices.
  • Walk it out. It’s hard to be depressed when you’re in action.
  • Talk it out with a few select confidants – don’t go it alone. Be clear these conversations are not designed as pity sessions. Their purpose is to help you develop compassion and wisdom from your lesson(s) learned.Remember, there will be more opportunities to fail and succeed – life gives you lemons or lemonade – it’s your choice to work through the challenges or succumb when mistakes happen! The key is to fail well so that you’re not repeating the same life lessons.


Jeannette Seibly has been a business advisor and facilitator for over 20 years; she guides the creation of new solutions for business challenges. Learn more about these and other successful leadership techniques by visiting her blogs posts on: http://SeibCo.com and get your copy of, “5 Simple Steps to Improve Your Results (and Enjoy Being a Leader Again)” http://ow.ly/ysgYQ

Where Do You Draw the Line?

Some bosses and coworkers are temperamental.  It’s a fact that not everyone can be universally nice, and being respectful is very subjective based on your perspective or tolerance level.  Labeling someone as “bad” or “wrong” and believing they shouldn’t behave the way they do could cost you your job. The question is where do you draw the line?

There are many programs out there on how to work with difficult people. They offer a great opportunity for you to improve your own interpersonal skills. Remember, you are not going to like working with everyone. Learn how to stay focused on your job requirements and achieve the end results instead of focusing on how to “fix” people. If you run into a personal attack or discriminatory behavior, document it, share it with your boss or HR, and be ready to move on to another job.

(c)Jeannette L. Seibly, 2013

The Right Inner Talk Expedites Results

Do you want to successfully achieve intended results? Are you willing to do what you don’t want to do and don’t like to do, and stop complaining about it? If yes, understand that results require practice and developing a discipline by following focused action steps. Hire a business advisor, coach, or other professional to help you along the way.

A coach has you do what you don’t want to do so you can achieve what you’ve always wanted.

What is the key ingredient often overlooked?  The right inner talk expedites results. Your self-talk guides you toward achieving your goals. It’s your inner core and determination that keep you moving forward day after day, week after week. Pay attention to the words you use to communicate your concerns or fears. They are usually the insight needed to blast through any inevitable wall. But don’t fall into the trap of falsely believing recitation of the right words is the sole answer. You need to believe in them while you are doing the work!

©Jeannette L. Seibly, 2013

Not Producing Intended Results?

Leaders often are perplexed when a project or plan is not working. Everyone wants to change the goal. The plan was created to achieve a specific goal; changing the goal is a strange way to produce those intended results! A compelling goal that is well-crafted requires commitment, focused actions and the right people. Too often the success of any team effort is contingent upon the leader’s people, project and profitability skills. Leaders often derail a team by failing to include others, building upon their ideas and staying focused on the ultimate goal of a profitable venture.

Difference of opinions. Many groups crash when they don’t take the time to effectively work through differences of opinions. Team members must be heard; otherwise, they can become trouble-makers! Productive discussions, sometimes seen as confrontational, are required to build better outcomes, uncover overlooked problems and build agreement.  Team leaders and members need to provide on-the-spot training to show others how to use persuasive listening skills to encourage everyone’s contributions.

Doomsday conspiracy. When people on a team are not committed to the plan designed to achieve the goal, or the goal itself, the project will fail, for either reason. A conspiracy of nay-sayers will evolve to rationalize their point of view when leaders don’t listen. Every member of the team has the responsibility for ensuring others’ concerns are addressed.  Many people view change as difficult, not necessary or are fearful of an unknown outcome. As the leader, it’s your role to facilitate actions and conversations to support the intended results, while positively impacting the bottom line, client relationships and a positive workplace.

What’s in it for me? Employees today want to know what’s in it for them. It’s important to provide insight into how their contributions are part of the solution. Start by sharing the situation or problem needing to be resolved, along with the proposed goal and plans to achieve the goal. If it impacts their potential bonuses and/or paychecks, share this in a positive manner. Honesty is key.  If they are not readily agreeable with the goal or project, they may be hearing it for the first time and need additional time to process it. Remember, you’ve been thinking about it for hours, days, or months!

©Jeannette Seibly, 2012