Why failure shouldn't be feared in business

The idea that mistakes must be avoided at all costs is an unquestionable reality for many people in business. Yet fearing failure may itself be the ultimate failure.

“If your staff avoid accountability, responsibility or starting new initiatives, chances are high that they are simply afraid of failing,” explains Gary Douglas, international speaker and business innovator and founder of Access Consciousness.

“Some people misidentify leadership and misalign it with micromanaging. In order to avoid mistakes, they disempower their staff and remove any ability for employees to choose, explore and innovate,” he says.

According to Gary, the most effective managers allow others to do things that they, themselves, may not choose – even if that looks like allowing a ‘mistake’ to occur.

In doing so, the employee is able to accept accountability for the outcome and receive the awareness from the choice they make.

“True leadership is the ability to transform anything; the ability to empower people; the ability to bring people forward with their capacities and enhance that.

A businessman wearing a cape standing on a globe looks out to a city“What if there are no mistakes? Choice always gives you awareness and awareness is priceless.”

Gary encourages business leaders to become more comfortable with failure with these three tips:

1. Allowing employees to work through and learn from their mistakes

“When an employee ‘fails” get them to look at what they now know that they didn’t know before, he says.

“Rather than looking at the result and judging it as wrong or as a failure, get them to ask, ‘What else is possible?’

“If they are willing to stop judging, if they are willing to look at what their choice created, if they are willing to continue to ask questions, they are a contribution to your organisation.”

2. Being aware of the real reason some employees repeat mistakes

“If you have someone who keeps repeating the same ‘mistake,’ either they don’t really want the job, they are settling for a career they don’t really care about, or there is something getting in the way.

“Ask them questions. Ask them to be honest about what it is they desire and what they would like their life and their career to look like.

“Empower them to get clear on what they desire in their life and then to choose it. Failure is nothing but a need for change.”

3. Realising that ‘failure’ is ultimately assisting you

“Good leaders don’t look at anything as a failure. If something you’ve chosen didn’t have a particular outcome, ask questions. What is right about this that I’m not getting? What else is possible here that I haven’t considered? How does it get any better than this?

“When you are willing to ask questions, when you are willing to look at what your choice created, without judgement, you simply choose again.”

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