If I Fail

I am not a natural networker, I’m learning, slowly.

At a recent networking event I joined a new group of strangers who all peered at my name badge.

” Ah, Empowering People.  I’ve not heard of that business.  Tell me more.” said one very helpful delegate.

Feeling very relieved, yet a little humble as all of their name badges were FTSE 250 companies I responded by saying ” Oh it’s just me, I am a coach and business consultant. ”

“Oh.  If you hadn’t said we’d have never known that you weren’t a terribly successful niche business we really must get to know.” came the reply.


A week later at a similar event a similar opportunity presented itself and this time I replied “It’s a Business consultancy.  I work with individuals, teams and businesses to help them reach their full potential.”

“Oh, tell us more – any particular sector?”

“I’ve personally worked in a number of sectors, with different types and size of business and my associates give us an even broader range of experience.”  Feeling confident now, seeing they were all from HR I pressed on “I have a particular interest in HR. ”

“Oh why?  No-one usually cares about HR.”

“Precisely.  No-one cares and no-one invests so HR functions are rarely as good as they could be.  They tend to be passive or reactive at best.  I want to change that.”

“Well we aren’t hopelessly passive!”


Maybe next time I should say “Precisely.  No-one cares and no-one invests so HR functions are rarely as good as they could be.  I want to change that by helping them make the case.”

The point is that there will be a next time and even if it is one sentence at a time I’ll get there – because there is no failure only feedback.  I’m getting plenty of that.

To take this theme further it can be argued that businesses and individuals simply do not take enough risks.   If we stay in our comfort zone and simply do what is in front of us to a reasonable standard then we will fail to create our own pipeline of future success.  By definition if we take risks we have to expect to fail.  We can learn from our failures and it’s often noted how many times highly successful people failed before making it big.

At a personal level the idea that failure takes you closer to your goal is counter intuitive and yet strangely liberating.  If you take action and it fails you have crossed one possible approach off the list which has to be better than doing nothing.  So we should celebrate failure.   Our own negative self talk is often a barrier, failure should not be taken personally or seen as all encompassing and permanent.  The real trick is to try again with a different approach, again and again.  Learn from the failures (they weren’t mistakes) and triangulate on your goal until you have an approach that can be honed into spectacular success.

The challenge from a corporate perspective is keeping discovery and invention alive whilst controlling a complex organisation.  This involves creating a ‘fail safe’ environment where staff can take calculated risks without damaging their careers or the business when it does not work out!  One answer lies in the style of leadership (organisational self talk?).  A directive style will make staff risk averse as it can create a blame culture.  Whereas an inclusive coaching style allows flexibility whilst creating a safety net.  Encourage and celebrate the failures – they are the ones who will create the next big thing.

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