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I have a horse, Wolfie, who I rescued and started to train when he was very young. I was incompetently incompetent, see Dunning Krueger effect, but I’ve had him for 9 years now, learned a lot and we started accomplishing some of my big goals in 2016.

Flash forward to August 2017, while at a small show. In what I thought would be my “warm up” round…. A picture is worth a thousand words.

 

 

I went home dejected, and sore and realized that I really hadn’t been that engaged lately. Was I riding 5x a week, yes. Was I practicing 5x a week…..No. So after the soreness wore off I went “back to work” practicing, setting up jumps, taking lessons, seeking coaching, etc. Falling off turned out to be a fantastic motivator.

 

Tom Watson, of IBM, was quoted to say “the fastest way to succeed is double your failure rate”. Most assume that this is because you are “testing” more options and therefore have more opportunities to succeed. But could there also be a human reaction to the failures? Something innate that makes people engage? And if that is true, how do we create environments where failure begets engagement? I have a few thoughts on that.

 

  • First, we must continue to create cultures, in our organizations and our teams, that welcome failure. A key part to achieving this is leadership, in all forms, welcoming and even praising risks and failures. Which leads me into my second point

 

  • We must share our failures. I recently witnessed a colleague, whom I greatly respect, share about a very recent failure at work to an audience of 100+ people. Hearing her share openly about this convinced me I could write this blog…. And share that embarrassing photo.

 

  • Finally, we need to think about our internal dialogue about failure. How do we process our own failures? Do we criticize ourselves? Do we act like it didn’t happen? Do we blame others? We need to have an inner dialogue that sees failure as a chance to reflect and grow. My first reaction after “eating dirt” was to think “maybe I should take up tennis” but after a reflection I saw this as an opportunity to “re-engage”.

 

What are your experiences with this? What do you think organizations can do to create environments where failure leads to engagement.

 

I am happy to report, with my increased engagement efforts, Wolfie and I were able to finish the show season on a high note and have more than enough to keep us busy in the off-season.

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2 Comments

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  1. Michelle Crapo

    Great blog!   I can relate.   I and my horses are retired from the show business now.   I just haven’t been riding them enough.   It looks like an event in the picture above.   I loved those.

    Anyway back to business.   Yes, learn from you mistakes.   Yes, admit them as soon as you find them.   Then fix them in a way that is better than the first approach.

    Share your mistakes.   Sure.   Perhaps it will help someone later.

    It all sounds good doesn’t it?   And yes, hopefully you eventually do all of the above.   But take a second for yourself.   Be sad or frustrated or whatever.   Get that out of your system before presenting your mistake otherwise you will be defensive.   And that is never good.

    Michelle

    My experience – You can probably read it elsewhere in SAP Community somewhere.    I was just starting at a company.    We were not on SAP.   But it was IT.   I had transported a program that erased all the spooled files.   People were saving them as a snapshot in time.   A co-worker had worked all night to try to figure out what happened.   Yes – no sleep.  I saw the board where the issue was.   And I thought – on no – I just transported a program to delete spool files created for THAT program.   I gave myself 1 second and then went to talk to my co-worker.   He was amazing.   He was happy to know the cause, and then said the spool files should have been cleared out anyway.   And he was taking all the calls from our upset business people.   I was not fired.   I was not even disciplined, it was just a mistake.   My problem was in only testing my program and not looking at the rest of the system.   I learned.   SAP is all about looking at the points in between.

    Yes – that was over 20 years ago.   He has forgotten it when I talk with him.   He works for the same company.  I have changed companies.    I will never forget.  Both to look at the integration and how he dealt with the mistake.

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  2. Former Member

    Oh you folks have horses, i envy you 🙂 Great post, all organisations, i mean most of them are so focused on meeting quarterly goals, that failure is frowned upon and not taken in right stride. It is like we all know FAILURE is good, but not NOW.

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