I continue to see and hear a lot about the importance of failure. Fail Fast – Fail Often seems to be an all too common mantra in the business world. Failure is sold as the key to learning. While failure can result in learning in the right environment, sometimes it just results in failure. It can also lead to personalizing the failure and the belief, “I am a failure”. It can lead to being yelled at by the boss for screwing up or maybe even getting fired. It can diminish self-confidence. The fear of failure is very common and it leads to people failing to take the necessary action to move forward.
Failure sucks. If we are willing to step back from the failure and conduct an After Action Review or Post Mortem to determine what led to the failure, what we learned from the experience and what we can do to improve our performance in the future then we can learn and grow from the experience.
What if instead of glorifying failure, we pushed the importance of striving, learning and growing. Understanding that in the striving sometimes we will fail and when we do it creates an opportunity to learn and grow. Learning and growth involve challenge, struggle and friction. If the task is easy then we are probably not learning. A Growth Mindset requires embracing the struggle, the effort and the journey. Learning is an action sport.
When we glorify failure as the key to learning we very often fail to learn from success. Too often success is followed by high-fives and then everyone moves on. When that happens we fail to understand why we succeeded. Was it luck? Was it good planning, good tactics, and / or good decision-making? Failing to study success can lead to complacency and set you up to fail in the future. If we fail to study success, how do we know what works?
Another area where failure is glorified is in some high intensity fitness programs. I see people posting pictures of finishing their intense workout lying on the floor in a puddle of sweat. While this might look good in a social media post it is a dangerous mindset for law enforcement professionals. It is great if you are pushing yourself hard in workouts, but always finish on your feet with your head up looking around. You are not looking around to see if anyone is paying attention to you, who cares. You are looking around to train yourself that on the street there may be another threat, another opponent or another fight.
So, lets stop glorifying failure and instead talk about the importance of the effort and the struggle in striving to learn, grow and improve. This applies to knowledge, skills, tactics and fitness.
P.S. Check out the new Dare to Be Great online leadership workshop at www.daretobegreatleadership.ca.
Winning Mind Training – Dedicated to helping good trainers become great trainers and great trainers to deliver awesome training.
The Excellence in Training Academy – Where trainers come to grow. Join the Community of trainers committed to the pursuit of excellence in and through training. Use the code eitblog to get the first month’s membership (individual or training unit) free.