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How To Fail Successfully

Sat, 07/18/2015 - 11:53am | by Guest Author

One of the myths people hold is that professionals who are on top of their game never really fail.  Not true. They fail all the time.  However, the way high level performers deal with bumps in performance makes all the difference in how they recover their performance, they maintain their reputation and ultimately enhance how others see their potential.

High performance has inherent risks. You are working on the most complex problems and often in new/gray areas where there are no pat answers. In that type of environment challenges are always messy, so even success to some degree will always look like a "failure" to someone. 

To fail right do these three things:

Do an "After Action Review":  Outline your goals, expected outcomes, assumptions you made going in and the results.  Analyze what happened that led to the results. Own the experience.  Be dispassionate and not defensive. The worst thing to do is blame events on everything and everybody else.

Share the analysis and what you learned that can help the business: Share your analysis with your boss and key stakeholders. Share what you learned that can be applied to the business now. Then talk about how it can be applied to similar challenges in the future.

Share what you learned personally:  Add one or two insights you gained about yourself or your approach and how it will enhance your performance. Share this with the boss, stakeholders of your project and teammates. That transparency will enhance your reputation as a leader and will be a role model that encourages others to up their games as well.


Author: Chuck Presbury is president of Presbury & Associates.  Find out about his consulting practice at

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