Using Failure to Fuel Sucess

You’ve probably noticed the same thing as me.

There is success all around us and, as a society, we love to celebrate success. Think about social media. It’s really just a collection of everyone’s highlight reel sent out into cyberspace hoping to get a little positive affirmation.

We also love a good rags-to-riches success story.

Like J. K. Rowling for example.

She went from living on welfare to becoming the world’s first billionaire author.

We love stories like this because it helps us imagine that one day, if we get lucky, maybe we might become the next rags-to-riches story.

But, what about failure?

We don’t like to think or talk about our failures.

We purposely hide our outtakes and our blooper reel from the world.

We purposely hide our outtakes and our blooper reel from the world. Click To Tweet

We fear failure. It’s embarrassing and discouraging when we fail. We feel like a loser in a world where everyone else is winning.

The problem is that failure gets a bad rap. It’s actually more important than success.

Let me explain.

Consider this. Between 2004 and 2006, at the height of auto-maker Toyota’s success, it recalled more vehicles than ever before. They learned the hard way that success leads to complacency.

We need failure.

We need it to learn, grow, and to provide the fuel to propel us towards our goals.

We need failure to learn, grow, and to provide the fuel to propel us towards our goals. Click To Tweet

Even the great J. K. Rowling was rejected by 12 different publishing houses before Bloomsbury finally accepted her stories.

Think of this quote that is often attributed to Winston Churchill (although he never actually said it):

“Success is not final. Failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.” 

Failure is not the problem.

Our response to failure is. It’s the courage to continue that counts.

I recently had Colonel George Milton on my podcast and we spoke specifically about failure. He took a life of failure and built an amazing career in leadership.

He is a highly decorated combat Army veteran who barely graduated from high school. The story of his early struggles and how it provided fuel for his success is powerful.

He never let failure stop him and he was eventually inducted into the United States Army Officer Candidate School Hall of Fame.

Listen in to this episode and learn how to harness the power of failure.

P.S. If you haven’t followed me on Instagram yet, you should. You’ll get a little more “behind the scenes” view of what it’s like to lead a manufacturing business.

Bosses Who Need the Most Help

I’m going to guess you’re a good boss.

How do I know this?

You’re reading this post.

And, more than likely, you’ve read my book, you follow my blog, and you listen to my podcast.

Like me, you probably regularly consume a steady diet of podcasts, audiobooks, and traditional books on business and leadership.

You’re a good leader because you’re humble and hungry.

You know you can always get better. There is always something new to learn.

You use that mindset with employees as well. You are humble when you are around them and you listen with the intent to learn – both how to be a better leader and to have a more successful organization.

Good leaders stay humble and hungry. They are always learning.

Good leaders stay humble and hungry. They are always learning. Click To Tweet

Bad bosses, on the other hand, think they know everything already. And they lack the humility and self-awareness to realize how bad they are as a leader.

The problem is – how do we reach these bosses when they are less likely to seek out new information?

Bad bosses lack the humility and self-awareness to realize how bad they are. They are less likely to seek out new information. Click To Tweet

It makes me think of the bible verse Luke 5:31 that says, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do.”

So, how do we reach those bosses who need a “doctor?”

Let me suggest four ways:

Share leadership articles. If you see a good leadership article or blog post, send it to those that need to hear the message. Add a simple note like, “I thought this was interesting.” That’s all you really need to say. Let the reader figure it out on their own.

Share podcast episodes. If you hear an episode that really resonates with you and you think it would help another boss, send it their way. It’s easy to text an episode to someone that needs to hear it.

Share the books you are reading. After you finish a good book, lend it out to those that need to read it or send them a link to an audiobook you liked.

Follow up regularly. Find out what they thought about the information you shared. Check-in with them. Did they read it? What did they think? Let them know what you thought of it.

I want to see a world with better bosses and the only way we can do that is for good leaders to help all other bosses get better. We owe it to 70% of corporate employees who are currently working for a bad boss.

Another simple idea is to buy multiple copies of a good leadership book and give them away to those that need it. Many authors offer a bulk discount.

I have the watch book

Did you know you I offer a bulk discount on I Have the Watch? Enter the discount code BULK25 at checkout to get 25% off 5 or more books on my website.

I’m happy if you share my bookarticles, and podcast with those that need it but I’m also happy if you just share any good leadership content.

Reach out to me on Twitter and let me know some other ways we can help build a world with better bosses.

Help! I’m in a new leadership role, what should I do?

A while back I was asked this timely question:

Q: Jon, help!  I’ve just started a new leadership role and really want to make a good impression, what should I do?

A: First off, congrats!

Here’s the deal:

It doesn’t matter how seasoned you are, any time you start a new role, you’re the rookie.  Everyone’s watching you for cues to see what kind of leader you’re going to be.  If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that the first 100 days are critically important. 

It’s your chance to set the right tone for your organization.

That first 100 days represent the “honeymoon” phase.

It’s the small window of time when you have the full attention of everyone.  Yes, you’ll be under a microscope with people watching your every move.  But this is good news!  It means you can make a big impact…

IF you take advantage of those beautiful early days!

First and foremost:

You’ve got to have a plan.

No plan, no magic.

The best leaders in history have known this…and used this “secret” to win the commitment – if not the hearts – of their staff.  And this all begins with letting your team know who you are.  There may be anticipation – even trepidation – among your people.  Right off the bat, have a meeting with all team members to fully introduce yourself.

Use stories and examples of how you handled past situations to let them see your character.  Be visible.  Spend time where your people are.  Actively listen to their questions, concerns, and ideas. And engage them on the subjects they care about.

In this way, you’ll get to know them.

And they’ll get to know you as well.

Finally, make a point to meet one-on-one with key employees.  I like to have one-on-one meetings with as many people as I can. I want to know the biggest challenges and the most important issues facing the organization. I also want to understand what they think needs to be addressed first.

Bottom line:

The energy you put out is the energy you get back.

If you’re open, cooperative, and show them you value them as humans, they’ll pay it back with insights you wouldn’t get otherwise and greater alignment at all levels.  Get ‘em on the bus first.  Then you can steer.

Anyway, that’s all for today.

Stay tuned for my next post when I’ll go into no less than 7 more key actions you MUST take in those all-important first days to grab this bull by the horns and bring it on home!

If you are striving to become a better leader, get a copy of my Amazon best selling bookI have the Watch: Becoming a Leader Worth Following.