How often are you failing? Most people would not want to admit to failure. We all want to acknowledge the successes that people have. We want to celebrate the “wins”. But in reality, if you aren’t failing, you probably aren’t taking enough risks.
Failure spurs growth. In the last month or so, I’ve experienced a couple of key failures. First, we hired a consultant to help us with a project and it did not work out. We spent a lot of time looking for the right firm, we then spent a day with the top two companies, we all agreed on who we should hire and we brought them on to help us. We began the project with the best of intentions, but after a couple of weeks, it was apparent that we had made a bad decision.
Now, in most peoples worlds, this was an epic failure. Look at all the money that was wasted. Not to mention the time spent by all the people involved. But in fact, there were some great things that came out of it. First, it helped our team understand exactly what we want. We were not clear on this before we hired the consultant so we did not get the expected result. We also learned a number of things about ourselves. We gained a lot more trust within the group and we were able to make the decision quickly and admit our mistake. So, while we did have a failure, it actually helped us to know exactly what we really need to move forward.
We also had a major failure with our new curtain wall system. We had designed the system, created all the dies and then began building our first units and putting them into the test booth. The first problem we found was that the gaskets weren’t seating right. We managed to work through that and start our testing. Half way through the structural test, one of the floor line clips failed and we blew out the units. So here we are having spent all that time and money to build the units and test them, and we can’t finish the test.
Again, pretty bad, right? But actually, the failed test allowed us to research the gasket problem further. It turns out that it was actually worse than we originally suspected. We were able to get new gaskets designed and delivered before we built the second set of units. The second test went exceptionally well.
As my boss is fond of quoting: Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently (Henry Ford I think). I really find this to be true. First, if you aren’t pushing hard to stretch your limits, you probably won’t find yourself failing. Each failure helps you see where the limits are and helps you find a way to get around them. This in turn spurs your growth and your knowledge of what works and what doesn’t.
So what will you fail at this week?