The Gift of Failure!

Accountability Authenticity Resilience


Key Point: Set yourself free by accepting your imperfection. At our company we have an important precept: “People have a right to great leadership. Leaders have a responsibility to be great (not perfect). ” One leader recently noted to me that by publicly stating that we as leaders do not expect “perfection,” it gave her permission to “make mistakes and continuously learn.” Why would we rob ourselves of the beautiful gift of failure? 

In the first pages of Being Wrong, author Kathryn Schulz writes, “In our collective imagination, error is associated not just with shame and stupidity but also with ignorance, indolence, psychopathology, and moral degeneracy.”

Somehow parents, educators and employers have created this cultural fear of messing up. Let’s stop it!

Ron Carucci is the best-selling author of eight books, including the recent Amazon No. 1 Rising to Power. In a recent HBR article, Carucci noted: 

“Many driven executives struggle to accept that flaws and mistakes are part of being human. And when you act is if you are, or should be, perfect, you eventually expect it of others as well. The followers on whom those unfair standards are imposed typically revolt and withdraw their support. Starved for acknowledgement, such followers wait to pounce on any hint of (hypocritical) deficiency, leaving no room for executive missteps. Executives, fearing criticism and exposure, work to perpetuate the illusion of infallibility — and perfectionism becomes a self-perpetuating prison. Sixty-seven percent of our respondents also struggled with micromanagement, a common symptom of managerial perfectionism. 

Followers need assurance that leaders know they themselves are flawed, and will in turn be understanding of other people’s slip-ups… A leader’s greatest source of credibility is, ironically, their vulnerability. Owning imperfections wins trust; hiding them doesn’t.” 

Character Moves: 

  1. Recognize that teammates want most of all to know that we authentically and genuinely care. I have a hard time remembering someone being fired for making a mistake when others believed that the right intent and care underscored the miss. Celebrate mistakes. Acknowledge, learn, and move on. 
  2. Failure is a gift! Give yourself the gift of imperfection and failure this holiday season! Make it a New Year’s resolution. 
  3. Do not micro manage!!!! It’s a symptom of perfectionism. 

Gift of imperfection in the Triangle, 


One Millennial View: I think we’re our own biggest critics in a lot of ways, and however nice it is to always just “nail” the tasks we perform, we’re going to have our screw ups. Just last week I published a piece with the typo “Green Back Packers” in the TITLE… It was fixable, but a pain in the butt to remedy, and embarrassing. Having your boss yell, “Who are the Green Back Packers?” is a “fun” gut check (not really). But, a lot of everyday things in life are like a baseball game. If you’re consistently making positive contact, you’re doing great. Sometimes you’ll hit a home run, but now and again, you’re going to swing, miss, and strike out.  

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis