” I have not failed, I have followed 10, 000 ways that won’t work. ” Thomas Edison.
There is tremendous value in failure, but only if you can learn from it. The emphasis on always winning, doing it right, getting it right is not only very damaging, and puts way too much pressure on the actors, always getting it right doesn’t provide the option to see other ways to do things, some that might even be more successful.
The flip side of this is the saying from Einstein: ” To do the same thing time after time and expect a different result is the definition of insanity.”
Failure is always an option
There seems to be little patience for failure, even when we know how it can educate us. Why is that? Probably many more pixels that I am prepared to spend could be directed at that questions, so, what does failure mean to you?
For me, I don’t tend to go into a project or effort without some preparation, homework and research. I bet you are the same. So when you decide on a plan or course of action, it is not out of the blue and lacks context or connection; that plan is the result of some, hopefully, cogent, thought.
So what did you learn?
So what, it didn’t work! The questions are why, what factors came into play that you didn’t anticipate, could not have foreseen, but should have; what calculations were not made correctly, who didn’t show up? Those factors are now front and center for the next time.
Sometimes getting it right just happens, so you do it the same way next time. But that formula may work for Law & Order, but not for an evolving growing organization. It is the embrace of failure and learning that teach us, not the fear to try something bold and new.
I for sure don’t recommend seeking failure, but understand it and appreciate its gifts. Want some help over a cliff? Get in touch here or call us on 310 828 6979.
Cindy Lauren is the Principal of Lauren Associates – non profit consulting
As well as advising Executives and Boards on all aspects of nonprofit management, the firm specializes in developing fundraising solutions for all sizes of organizations.
Burnt by Sidereal on Flickr.