Does your environment allow for failure?

As I watch the winter Olympics, I see some amazing athletic feats. Then, I wonder, how many times those athletes had to fail in order to succeed on a world stage like the Olympics? Many, many times, I imagine.

It is no different in business or any other aspects of life. In order to be successful, most entrepreneurs have to experience failure first. Losing your first major pitch to a competitor could hold the lessons that teach you how to win the next five. A failed entrepreneur may never again forget the importance of cash flow that eventually allows him to be successful in a following venture.

I would rather see someone fail trying to do something extraordinary, then watch a person on the sideline just ready to criticize a failed attempt.

On the other hand, repeated failures mean that the person is not learning from his experiences, and not likely to ever be successful. A successful person is someone who is willing to take risks, and also is perceptive enough to learn from mistakes.

Some people say that in order to succeed, you must forget the past and focus on the future. I don’t buy that. Yes, I want to focus on the future, but I need to  remember the past in order to leverage my experiences. Failure is only a foundation for success if we learn from our past experiences.

A dynamic work environment is one that values calculated risk taking. That is where innovation and creativity can flourish. I’m certain that Shaun White failed many times in order to set new world standards in men’s snowboard competitions. Many work environments, however, are not “culturally” accepting of failure. Then executives there wonder why mediocrity has permeated throughout their organization.

Ask yourself as an executive, an entrepreneur, or a parent, are you creating an environment where failure is just not tolerated?

Olympic gold medalist Shaun White