Celebrating Failure!


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A top girls’ school is planning a “failure week” to teach pupils to embrace risk, build resilience and learn from their mistakes! The idea of the failure festival at Wimbledon High School, which is ranked 34th in The Sunday Times’s independent schools league table, is to help girls – and their parents – cope with pressure to succeed all the time, both academically and socially.

Apparently the emphasis will be on the value of ‘having a go’, rather than playing it safe and perhaps achieving less. The headmistress, Heather Hanbury, said she wanted to show “it is completely acceptable and completely normal not to succeed at times in life.”

I think lots of us in business can learn from that! I see in far too many businesses a culture that promotes an unwillingness to admit ‘failure’ and crucially, as a result, not learn from it. In fact a manager in one business I once worked with told me that they didn’t have ‘brainstorming’ meetings, they had ‘blamestorming’ meetings where everyone just sat around and discussed why a deadline was missed or a project failed, and who was responsible!

Some of the best leaders and innovators see ‘failure’ as a natural consequence of innovation. Take the innovative entrepreneur Sir James Dyson. Here’s a quote from him… “I made 5,127 prototypes of my vacuum before I got it right. There were 5,126 failures. But I learnt from each one. So I don’t mind failure.”

So, why not take a bit of time out and highlight a ‘failure’ that you’ve had, and importantly, identify…

  • What have you learnt?
  • What would you / are you doing differently as a result?

If you are really brave, why not ‘lead by example’ and let you team know all about it? What have you got to lose?

And if you don’t believe me, how about these ‘wise words’ from Sir Winston Churchill…

“Success consists in going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm”

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Andy Hanselman
Hi there! I help businesses and their people create competitive advantage by 'Thinking in 3D'! That means being 'Dramatically and Demonstrably Different'! I research, speak about, write about and work with businesses to help them maximise their sales and marketing, their customer service and their customer relationships.


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