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Failing to Succeed

One of my ‘truths’ from 35 years of management, entrepreneurship, and leadership is that the line between good and bad decision makers is much narrower than most people think. In fact, business decisions are only about 50 percent likely to be right. Even great decision makers are only right about 60 percent of the time. So, what really drives the difference between great business people and average or bad business people?

The answer is how they deal with failure. Great decision makers and leaders never become ego-invested in their decisions. Instead, they monitor the impact of their decisions carefully. In fact, they concentrate on identifying failure, and thus see earlier than others when they have made a bad decision. They embrace failure as a reality of moving forward, and a learning opportunity, then embrace admitting error and quickly correcting paths.

People tend to learn much more from failure than success. Success breeds arrogance, while failure breeds humility. This makes failure a great learning tool. I rarely hire people who have never failed because that is an indicator that they never tried to innovate or change, and probably never learned anything.

So, go forth and fail, just learn as you go, and figure out what to watch for and how to watch so you can identify failing paths and correct quickly. This will turn your best failures in to the team’s greatest successes.


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