Learning to Not Forget Failures!

Accountability Contribution Growth mindset


Key Point: We need to be balanced so we learn from BOTH success and failures. Any one reading my blog knows that I am, by all accounts, closer to the end than the beginning of my career. Yet I genuinely feel that every stage of one’s work journey is a huge opportunity for personal growth. I’m learning as much or more about myself than ever. However, the reality is that practice time is practically shorter, later on in life. Learn from me… Make sure you are balanced. In this regard and in the spirit of total transparency, the following is feedback from world-class psychologists who recently assessed my leadership strengths and development opportunities. 

“Lorne is an expert strength based developer… [He] needs to help others discuss and grow from downsides… He should do the same in his own development”… “[He should put] more focus on what he and others can learn from frustration and failure.”

At first, it is hard for me to not just want to discount this feedback. After all what do these psychologists really know after a battery of tests, interviews and lots of 360 degree feedback from peers, direct reports and others…? Well, the truth is that they know a lot and are very practiced at discovering insights. It is important for me to accept and learn from this feedback.

The fact is that I DO have a propensity to focus more on people’s strengths and to optimize their contribution accordingly. As the psychologists point out, this is a real strength and I’m proud of this capability. Most of us have core strengths and a tendency to rely on these skills and attributes. As an example, most who have worked with me, know that I will never be really quantitatively gifted; although people will be surprised if they think I do everything by the seat of my pants too. I know that about myself and therefore surround myself with quantitative geniuses to help me out. This adds balance to my overall capability.

Over the years I have occasionally found myself in territory I have been through before. My reaction is, “Do I need to learn this again?” Apparently so. How about you? Do you find yourself repeating past failures, frustrations or mistakes? Think about the following:

Character Moves:

  1. Become known as an expert based strength developer. It will take you and others a long way down the success road. Additionally do No. 2 below!
  2. Be tenacious and very rigorous about what you can learn from frustration and failure. Sometimes it is compelling to skip this and move on. Unfortunately this contributes to the worst of déjà vu or Groundhog Day. We really need to reflect and learn from the failures of others and our own. How and what do you really learn from failure? Are you confident you will avoid repeating the same mistakes, disappointments and frustrations in the future?
  3. Document and write out your “war stories.” See my last blog. The act of writing and reflection will pull out themes and insights from your failures. Always ask for feedback from people that care about you and your progress. Hopefully they have the courage to help you identify blind spots.
  4. Self-awareness and development never ends. I like to tell the story about Pablo Casals, the world famous cellist who practiced three hours a day well into his 90’s. When a neighbor asked Pablo why, at his age, he did this, his comment was, “maybe one day I’ll get it right.”

Learning from failures in The Triangle,