Freedom to Fail: 8 Lessons to Bring You Back!
A couple weeks ago I made a big mistake at work. I’ve made mistakes before, but I think this one takes the cake. It had to do with hiring a very worthy individual. I made a great choice, this candidate was very worthy and would be a great hire.
Unfortunately, in my excitement to bring this person on, I made a rush decision without going through the normal hiring process.
Just after I had concluded the interview, I immediately called my wife Lisa, to share the good news. My wife, being the one with the level head, said to me “what were you thinking? Didn’t you involve your partners in this decision?”
Then it all came rushing over, what in the world did I just do? I went from thrilled to “oh no!” in about two seconds.
After my phone call with Lisa, I met with my partners still hoping they would be just as excited. After all, these are men that I respect and who support me.
Needless to say, my partners went from surprise, to shock – “How are you going to fix this?” – I knew I needed to take action so I gave my self 24 hours to see if I could magically find a GREAT solution.
I went home that night wishing that I could call a “1-800-GOD-HELP-ME” hotline to get some direction – wouldn’t it be great if just one simple phone call could fix everything! But I also realized that this error was my responsibility to fix, and after much soul searching I knew what I had to do. I called this perfectly wonderful candidate, who I knew well and respected, and explained how sorry and embarrassed I was for making such a rush decision without any normal process or council from my valued partners.
As difficult as this phone call was, the mistake was mine. Incredibly, she was kind, compassionate and knew that I valued her. I did not loose her respect and I kept our friendship in tact. I’m also grateful that my partners were equally kind and compassionate.
I believe failure can be healthy if you learn from it. Here are the 8 lessons I have put to good use:
Take your time: In major decisions you need to keep you emotions out of the process and try to arrive at a wise & logical solution. You will almost never make a great decision in a rush.
Involve your team or council: The more eyes and ears you have to shape a decision the better the outcome. My executive team was very supportive in helping me look at all sides of this outcome and they allowed me the freedom to find a better solution.
Acknowledge your failures: Once you acknowledge failure you take away its power and can turn it into something positive. Acknowledgement is the first step to recovery.
Take full responsibility for your actions: When you take responsibility for your actions you become fully accountable to those around you. This accountability not only gives you the ability to take control of the issue, but can also provide a teachable moment for others. It’s all about integrity.
Mourn your failure: If you don’t take it to heart you may repeat the mistake. I am dealing with it and am using this blog as part of my coping process.
Learn the lesson: I never want to fail the same way twice; it shows irresponsibility & insincerity. In this instance I’ve learned to value patience & collaboration when it comes to making big decisions.
Change your behavior: Once you identify how you made your mistake take steps to monitor your actions (this can actually make your brain grow!). If you don’t the odds of repeating it are great.
Give it your all: I have to admit it took me about 10 days to recover from this. But I didn’t want to become a hostage to my guilt; I knew I had to forgive myself and move on. Our time and energy are limited and we can’t afford to wallow too long in the aftermath. Click here to read about J.K. Rowling‘s battle with failure, it’s a great story!
After this embarrassing lesson, I have recommitted myself to slowing down, seeking guidance, and not being reactionary. I’ve learned that failure is a powerful teacher and I’m grateful that positive lessons have come out of a poor decision.
What failures have you learned from?