LIFE

When Failing Can Be Good For Your Business

At times failure, like knowledge, is power.

15/06/2017 7:22 PM AEST | Updated 24/06/2017 2:11 PM AEST

It's a rare person who has never tasted failure of one kind or another and it's something even the most successful people cannot avoid. Yet, when it comes to common fears, the fear of failure is a huge one, particularly when it comes to the business world.

A recent study revealed the fear of failure potentially stifles innovation in Australia, with 55 percent of people admitting they're afraid of failing with new business ventures. A U.S study found that same fear is a major factor when it comes to low staff productivity.

Yet by fearing failure, you also risk preventing possibilities for innovation and creativity. That's according to business innovator and global speaker Gary Douglas who told HuffPost Australia failure in business should be perceived as an opportunity for growth and change. He also believes nothing is really a failure.

"The only failure is an unwillingness to choose. If you're willing to choose you cannot fail. You may not have succeeded as dynamically as you would like to, but you cannot really fail," Douglas said.

"If you looked at failure as the indication of what you are not willing to succeed at, instead of it just being a failure, then there is a greater possibility. Success is really about being willing to see what you can change, and changing it."

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Success is really about being willing to see what you can change, and changing it.

Alan Manly, author of 'The Unlikely Entrepreneur', told HuffPost Australia one sign of being a good leader is the realisation that failure, like knowledge, is power.

"A perceived failure is often a different outcome to what was expected. A zig instead of a zag, so to speak. Reassess the new circumstance from as many angles as possible looking for an exit strategy or a new way forward," Manly said.

Also, if you have an employee who has failed, Manly believes there are ways to easily lift him/her up. First, you can ask, 'What have we learnt?'

"It's a great question for someone who accepts that they have got it wrong. The shared learning experience opens the door to question whether the request was not perfect or the outcomes were achievable. Keep the conversation going to learn what their experience has been."

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The most effective managers allow others to do things that they, themselves, may not choose.

Douglas believes the most effective business leaders 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," Douglas said.

"True leadership is the ability to transform anything; the ability to empower people and the ability to bring people forward with their capacities and enhance that. What if there are no mistakes? Choice always gives you awareness and awareness is priceless."

Gary Douglas' Tips For Becoming Comfortable With Failure:

  • Allow 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. Rather than looking at the result and judging it as wrong or as a failure, get them to ask, 'What else is possible?'
  • 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.

  • 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?

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