Is it acceptable to fail?

February 14, 2012

Company cultures where it is acceptable to ask for help and make mistakes create learning environments and increase efficiency. Without the creation of an environment where the lessons from failure are reflected upon and engrained as lessons learnt, the ability to change, improve and eventually achieve success will be handicapped.

A person once said to me, show me a successful person or company, and I will show you the lessons they learnt from their mistakes. For example as an inventor, Edison made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb. When a reporter asked, “How did it feel to fail 1,000 times?” Edison replied, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.”

Confucius said “Our greatest glory is not in never falling but in rising every time we fall”, Henry Ford failed and went broke five times before he succeeded, while Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor because “he lacked imagination and had no good ideas.” He went bankrupt several times before he built Disneyland. In fact, the proposed park was rejected by the city of Anaheim on the grounds that it would only attract riffraff.

It is clear that perfection is often the amalgamation of the lessons a company or individual learns from the failures or disappointments in their sojourn

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