Here is a great (and brief) article on the importance of failure in developing character, growing businesses, and helping people have a good life. It turns out that trying to spare people (ourselves, our children, our employees, etc) from experiencing the pain of failure is bad in the long run. Why? We can’t gain deep wisdom without the process of learning from our failures. This is a list from the article at Forbes.com of ways to help people fail in a way that is positive for them and the organization.
“Here are some ways to increase employees’ comfort with the risk of failure, and to be resilient when it happens:
- Share past stories of struggle. Everyone’s been there.
- Practice recovery so people aren’t paralyzed by failure. When I was coaching sports, we didn’t just diagram plays. We always developed a Plan B. That’s why great organizations scenario-plan. It helps people think of struggle as part of the process.
- Help people around you think like long-term investors in their own ideas and their own careers. The aim shouldn’t be to try to have one uninterrupted string of successes, but rather to have a portfolio of some winners and, yes, some losers.
- If someone is struggling, your job is to figure out how to get them on the right path. The real job of a manager is to help people learn from failure and move forward.
- Champion failure that turns to innovation. Find examples where ordinary failure has led to extraordinary opportunity.
- Encourage failing fast. Sometimes we recognize that something is failing, and our instinct tells us to push harder to make it succeed. Knowing when to pull the plug is always difficult but is necessary.”