Embracing Failure


By Taylor Burton Published on December 13, 2023

Estimated reading time: 4 Minutes

 

Failure is a scary word. Many refuse to acknowledge it as an option and try not to think about what difficult situations it could bring. However intimidating it might be, failure is not the end of the world. In fact, it might even be beneficial.

Back in October, while discussing the power of perseverance, we briefly touched upon accepting failure as a reality. Let's dive even deeper into not just accepting it, but fully embracing it as part of the growth process. 

If you have an open mind and wish to further learn from a different perspective, join us tomorrow for "Leaders Learn From Associates: An Associates Perspective." In this CLE, we are mixing it up by bringing in a panel of associates to identify what they need from their firms to succeed! These speakers will highlight their personal perspectives on a host of issues and share how you can better retain talented associates for your firm's long-term success.

 

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Change your mindset. Failure is not the opposite of success. In fact, the two might even go hand in hand. If you experience failure in the here and now, that doesn't mean there's no success in your future. Start thinking of failure as part of the process. Do not fear it. Acknowledge that sometimes it occurs due to external circumstances completely outside of your control. 

Reframe your thoughts to regard failure in a more positive manner. Remind yourself that by putting yourself at risk to fail, you are leaving your comfort zone, putting yourself out there, and challenging yourself--something to be commended for. Remember that you can learn from your failures, too. Failure can be an exemplary teacher if you take the time to observe your mistakes or shortcomings.

You may also look back one day on your failure and see the silver linings that came with it. Perhaps you grew as a person and became stronger for it. Or maybe you learned something and gained valuable life experience. The positives certainly won't be visible right away, but one day they will.

 

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Fail fast, learn fast. There is a business modality that embraces failure as part of the process and encourages failing faster in order to find what works. If you fail faster, you will learn faster. For example, you can avoid "sunk costs" in business and avoid spending money on things that are proven not to work for you. It's akin to experimenting what gets you the best results.

Failure can boost your efficiency and innovation. It can help you separate the good ideas from the bad and prevent you from investing in a hopeless project--or person.

What does that look like for a lawyer? It means bouncing back quickly and identifying the weak points in your firm. Maybe your marketing needs an overhaul in order to attract more clients. Or perhaps a change in personnel is vital for your success. One thing for certain is that failing successfully takes a great deal of reflection and adjustment.

 

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"Fail early, fail often, but always fail forward." This was said by John C. Maxwell, a well-known thought leader when it comes to embracing failure. He encourages others to get to know failure instead of fearing it. Embrace it as you would an old friend. If you don't, you could easily repeat your past mistakes.

A mindset for growth is all about facing what comes next, but it's also leaving room to fail. By including failure and reflection in your process, you create opportunities to learn and sustain continued growth. And when you finally do hit that bullseye and experience a victory, it will be all the sweeter in regard to the many failures you overcame to get there.

To learn more about this concept, check out "Failing Forward" by John C. Maxwell, in which he teaches the 15 steps to turn mistakes into stepping stones for success.

 

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