Leadership Mistakes

Fail Your Way To Leadership Success

John Nicholas asked:

“Success is 99% failure.” So said Soichiro Honda the founder of highly successful Honda Motor Company. Honda is reputed to produce some of the highest quality fuel efficient cars in the world. He is also considered an innovative leader among auto manufacturers because of his concepts.

In past articles I’ve talked a lot about success. Today I will talk bout how failure is part of success. People who always play it safe rarely succeed. The reason is that their fear of failure is greater than their desire to succeed, no matter what they may say.

Often they play it safe, never truly growing nor never truly failing – just going sideways in a secure comfort zone that’s “good enough.” Well, “good enough” is not good enough if you want to grow and be a truly successful leader. Failure is part of success. Show me someone who has no failures and I’ll show you the biggest failure around.

In 1927, Babe Ruth, while playing for the New York Yankees, hit 60 home runs thereby setting the record for baseball’s American League. That record stood for over three decades. It’s even more interesting to note that was the same year he led the league in strikeouts (89). By delving deeper into his record we find that during the two years prior to 1927 and the year after he led the league in home runs AND in strikeouts.

There’s an important lesson we can learn from these statistics because they directly relate to our topic of leadership success. It is a strong example that in order to succeed you must risk failure and that failure is an inevitable part of success. It further reveals that failure is not fatal and success is not forever. One should never be inhibited by past failures or rest on past successes. It is a continuing process.

When Thomas Edison was trying to invent the light bulb word got out that over 400 of his experiments had failed. A reporter subsequently asked him how it felt to fail 400 times. His response was, “I didn’t fail. I learned 400 ways how not to make a light bulb.” He went ahead anyway failing his way to success and the world benefited.

Courage is not being fearless in your endeavors. True courage is having fear, but being willing to take the risks anyway and learn from any failures along the way. Every aspect of history is rich with examples of those who dealt with their fears, learned from their mistakes, continued to take risks and failed their way to success.

I once read about a sporting goods company CEO who said he would rather lose money and know why rather than make money and not know why. He knew the value of taking risks, making mistakes and learning from them rather than trusting to good fortune alone.

If you want to be a true leader you must do your due diligence, curb your fear of failure, take the risks and move forward. In the process, if you fail be certain you know why, pick yourself up and move on with that valuable experience. Use every failure as a stepping stone to success. That’s the true formula for becoming a successful leader.

© 2006 Gaining The Edge

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