What Leaders Can Learn from Failure

“The most valuable lessons I’ve learned is what not to do. Without those experiences, I would not have learned what I learned and bring that to my company. Silicon Valley is littered with failures.” – LinkedIn CEO, Jeff Weiner told David Bryant in this interview

You’re probably nodding your head in agreement with Weiner’s statement. We can all look back on failures or mistakes and see the ways in which we learned or benefited from those experiences. Mistakes bring us increased understanding, a frame of reference and good insights about what doesn’t work. Mistakes give us the upper hand as we approach a similar situation or challenge in the future.

Yet, in spite of the awareness that we gain from failures, most of us will do anything to avoid them. That avoidance can negatively impact our effectiveness as leaders, as well as our overall performance. We might become averse to risk. We might attempt to do everything on our own. We might limit our future opportunities.

Need some tips on how to get out of the fear of failure cycle?

Check out these resources if you are:

• Struggling with the feeling that you’re the only person who can do something right

• Wondering if failure is really required in order to succeed

• Trying to avoid owning your mistakes

Challenging your team to make mistakes and decisions

• Looking for ways to make good decisions

Finally, if you were having an interview with the NY Times, what two or three professional mistakes would you cite as your most valuable lessons of what not to do? Write down those examples and identify how learning from those failures helped you succeed. The next time you find yourself fearing failure, take out your list and recall what you’ve learned.

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