Make failure your friend

make failure your friend

Failure is one of those topics where there’s a big gap between knowing and doing. Rationally we know that it’s OK if we are doing our best, to fail, because by failing we learn valuable lessons that lead us to success in the future.

Yet, failure is not rational. Failure is highly emotional. Remember the last time that you failed at something that was important to you. How did it feel? Most likely it felt horrible. I know that if I’ve failed badly I almost can’t bear to talk about it and dissect it until a bit of time has passed and the pain has resided.

However, as Richard pointed out, it’s the ability to talk about the failure when you are still feeling it that has the potential to lead to the biggest learning. Like with many things its easier said than done, you need to have people to talk to in confidence about failure and work in an environment where you don’t fear the repercussions of failure.

Here are my eight take-aways from the interview

Make failure your friend and work on reframing your mindset on how you view failure. It’s not the enemy to be avoided. If treated with respect, failure can be your friend.

Tell stories of the failures in your organisation to help others learn. Tell stories to all your audiences, customers, supporters, internal teams. The learning from failure is more readily remembered and more importantly implemented as a story than facts and figures.

Set a BHAG. A Big Hairy Audacious Goal. This goal works best when it is organisation wide, however, if setting the organisation’s BHAG is not in your remit set your team one – or set an individual one. Setting a BHAG forces you to think differently. If your goal is to double sales you approach the task very differently than if your goal is to increase sales by 5%. A BHAG also shifts expectations. You are all working to smash your BHAG, however, if you fall short, it’s highly likely that you will have done better than the 5% incremental change.

Like Oscar Wilde said; ‘Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss you’ll land amongst the stars’

Give yourself and your team permission to fail. This is also easier when you have a BHAG. You can’t just tell people they have permission, you have to lead by example. For example, you might share learning from failure as a regular agenda item at team meetings. Everyone should have something to share, after all, if no one is learning from failure they are not pushing themselves hard enough to reach that BHAG. BHAG’s don’t just achieve themselves.

Go for a walk. The single best way I’ve found to clear my head, think straight and be more creative is to go for a walk. It can help you think through problems or if you take a colleague it can help you talk through problems.

With hindsight, Hindsight is a great thing. If I could choose a superhero power I’d be ‘Hindsight Hero’. EVERYTHING is easier with hindsight but we don’t have a crystal ball so the best we have is learning from failure. Your learning from failure is someone else’s hindsight – but only if you’re brave enough to share it.

Back to mindset. Start to frame problems in a more positive way. Rather than ‘This doesn’t work’ or ‘We tried that and it didn’t work’ ask ‘How might we make this work?’

And finally, construct your failure resume. List your career steps from the failures that have led you to where you are now.

The interview with Richard Turner can be watched at the Lucidity Network which is a pick and mix of online and offline learning and connection to a dynamic network of people that can help you. We’re open for new members a few times a year. Join the Lucidity Community Facebook group to get in the Lucidity groove for clearer thinking and better results and be the first to hear when the Lucidity Network is open for members.

When did you last feel really confident?

when was the last time you felt confident

When did you last feel confident? Now? Earlier today? Yesterday? Last week? Last month?

Over the last 6 years I’ve worked with individuals, teams and organisations to help them to think creatively and develop their ideas to get better results. I’ve learned that regardless of role, seniority or sector, the two biggest things that stop people achieving the results they want, are lack of time to think and lack of confidence.

I do not believe that some people are born confident and others are not. I’ve noticed that people who are more confident deliberately work at maintaining their confidence.

Dips in confidence can affect both individuals and whole organisations. When the pressure is on it can be easy to lose our nerve to push forward with a new way of working, product or idea. I’ve noticed that lack of time and lack of confidence are connected.  When we’re busy, stressed out, juggling many conflicting priorities our attention to detail can slow. We drop balls. The odd dropped ball doesn’t matter, but if several balls drop at once it can knock us back. That often knocks our confidence. And when we’re busy we don’t take time out from our packed schedule to regroup and put our confidence back on track.

In her TED Talk, Angela Duckworth tells us about ‘grit’ – the ability to persevere in the face of setbacks. Her research shows that when it comes to achieving success, grit beats talent every time.

Whilst we know that we need to dust ourselves off and keep going, it can be much easier said then done.

Our setbacks are emotional.  Whilst rationally we know we must pick ourselves up and keep going, we have to wait until our emotions catch up with our rational thought process.  Only then can we move on. We need to allow ourselves time to do this. And if you are in any doubt about these two different thinking systems check out The Chimp Paradox.

Working on confidence can feel intangible but focusing on it is part of looking after ourselves along with eating well, getting enough sleep and exercising regularly. When we are taking time to look after ourselves it helps us keep our confidence in check. When we feel good we feel more self-assured and more confident to tackle whatever situation working life throws at us.

If you’re keen to be more deliberate about building and maintaining your confidence here are my top three quick and practical tips. Do them daily.

Log your achievements Get yourself a notebook or create an online file and log your achievements. Log them all, especially the small ones because they add up. Keep the good feedback you receive from other people; a thank you from a client, the well done good job email from a manager or the time your team went the extra mile for you. Write them down. Writing them down helps you to acknowledge them, which makes you feel good. In addition, seeing your achievements written down helps you realise how far you’ve come, the positive impact you have every day and how much you’ve achieved overall. Instead of your ‘to do’ list – it’s your ‘I did it’ list.

Call out Imposter Syndrome The nagging voice that tells you you’re not good enough or are going to get found out is a thing. Its called Imposter Syndrome and 70% of people are affected at one time or another. When that little voice tells you that you’re not good enough and anything good that happens to you is luck – call it out. For example, I acknowledge that it’s happening and disconnect that annoying voice from the real me and tell it to pipe down. Your task is to find your own way to change the negative story that your inner critic is telling you. Look for evidence to deny the things that your inner critic is saying. For example, if you think that you’re a failure, ask yourself, “What evidence is there to support the thought that I’m a failure?” and “What evidence is there that doesn’t support the thought that I’m a failure?”

Build your troupe This is your trusted network of friends and colleagues, the people you go to for help, the people you can talk though problems with, the people who help you to dust yourself off and keep going. You need people who listen, challenge and ultimately you trust are on your side, people who have your back. As well as building your troupe of people who build your confidence, disengage from the people who put you down and shred your confidence.

When it comes to achieving success, who you know is so much more important than what you know, yet I notice that many people don’t invest much time and energy in deliberately building their trusted networks.

So I’ve set up the Lucidity Network, to help you fast-track your networking and your route to great results. The Lucidity Network is a  ready made troupe to keep your confidence up when you need a boost as well as offer expertise and connections to others that can help you. Members also get exclusive content on relevant topics as well as webinars with experts, a confidential Facebook Community and regular events.

The Lucidity Network is open for new members a few times a year. Sign up to the waiting list to be the first to know when the Network is open for new members. In the meantime you can join the Lucidity Community free Facebook group  for clearer thinking and better results.  

A version of this blog first appeared on Optimum Living’s website.

 

The difference between failure and success is confidence

Dice represent success, failure and confidence

Innovation is (in my view) a buzzword. It can mean different things to different people. For example, you or your organisation might want to be disruptive and develop brand new ideas that change current thinking and business models, or you might opt to make incremental changes or you may choose to focus on product development. They are not mutually exclusive; you might opt to do them all. There is not single right or wrong approach to innovation. And, sadly, there is no silver bullet.

In my experience whether innovation is disruptive, radical, marginal, incremental or whatever the next buzzword prefix is; the best innovation happens when people work together, build on each other’s ideas, add new elements, develop new perspectives, understand audiences and focus on how to make the idea a reality.

I think the biggest barrier to delivering innovation (of which there are many lets face it, fear of failure, fear of success, internal politics, external politics, no budget, too busy, too many deadlines, wanting immediate results, the list goes on) is lack of confidence.

Lack of confidence, which is incubated by all the blockers and barriers that we battle with on a day-to-day basis when we try to create any sort of change.

I think it all starts in school.

Think back to showing your parents or your teacher your math homework. There were 20 questions. You got 18 right. Yet rather than getting a ‘well done’ for the 18 right answers, the focus from your parents and teachers was on the two answers you got wrong.

And as we grow older we learn in school that we get rewarded for getting things right and following instruction and not for inquisitive enquiry, experimenting or ideas, being different or asking questions and certainly not for getting things wrong.

The impact is that we feel safer sticking with what we know, we prefer not to take risks, and we like to be rewarded for getting things right. We conform. We prefer not to challenge or test new ideas that may fail, or be marked wrong.

The only people with objectives around thinking differently or (dare I say it) failure are the innovation managers. Organisations talk about innovation, but their structures and processes do not encourage any different or creative thinking. Innovation is often blocked (see blockers above) or fails to gain traction because insufficient time and resource are invested into helping it succeed.

Layer on top that most of us (I have one too) have an inner voice that nags away at us, telling us we’ll get found out, or we’ll fail or that we’re not good enough.

The little voice nags away, and especially when we are doing something new or different (innovating) becomes louder, more insistent, more toxic until you just want to stick firmly with what you know because then you are safe and nothing bad will happen.

That’s why at Lucidity when we help individuals and organisation to innovate we work with people to help them build both their confidence and their capacity for innovation. Because we’ve learned from our own hard-fought failures that without confidence even the best ideas die on the vine.

When it comes to getting the best results, confidence is a big deal. That’s one of the reasons that I set up the Lucidity Network – a combination of resources, inspiration and connections to people that can help you. We’re open for new members a few times a year. Sign up to the waiting list to be the first to know when the Network is open for new members. In the meantime you can join the Lucidity Community free Facebook group  for clearer thinking and better results.