Wisdom often comes from the most unlikely places and experiences. Over the last few years I’ve taken some acting classes and learned some interesting things that apply to my career in business. A big lesson I learned was to embrace failure. “It means you’re learning,” said my acting teacher, “and taking risks.” Fear of failure as an actor is certain death. It prevents you from being able to perform. In my “day job,” I was terrified of failure, and actively sought to prevent it, because failing meant I could be fired.
Wiser business people than I have learned the value (yes VALUE) of failure through hard knocks. A CMO friend of mine told me he’d failed big, and almost been fired, five times throughout his two decade marketing career at a Fortune 500 company. And he said it with pride, embracing the personal and professional growth that came with it.
Jobs can be replaced. A company or boss that doesn’t recognize the value that comes from not getting it right the first time doesn’t create an environment for employees to learn and grow. Fear of failure can prevent people from performing their best. Leaders, what do you communicate about learning and growing vs. “getting it right?” Just starting out in your career? Have a conversation with your boss to learn his or her values regarding trying to be 100% right first and every time vs. falling down sometimes, and then picking yourself up again, only stronger and smarter. The boss worth keeping, and the company worth staying at, will embrace failure as part of the road to success.