5 Steps to Successfully Deal with Failure

leadership failA greater measure of success can be seen in how we respond positively to failure when it comes our way…

Failure stinks! Whether you are leading a large team of people, or leading your kids, or volunteering, the feeling of failure does not sit well with any leader. If you are like me, it is not difficult for us to go back to a time of failure and beat ourselves up all over again. But, as I look back on my life and ministry so far, I am also able see how God has shaped me (and others) through times of failure. In this post I want to share 5 Steps to Successfully Deal With Failure:

1. Accept that failure is found on the pathway of every leader. As a young leader, I found it hard to accept failure. Somehow I thought it made me inferior and I certainly did not feel I could show failure to those I was leading. However, as time has passed, I have come to accept that failure is part of leadership, but it can also become a pathway to success if I choose to allow failure to shape me positively for the future.

2. Accept responsibility for what you can own. There is always something that failure can teach us, but so often a leader is limited by the inability to own his or her mistakes. The leader who is unable to accept their part in a failure will fail to learn lessons, but also will isolate themselves from others as the followers become disenfranchised with a leader who is unable to accept the truth.

3. Accept the lessons that can be learned. Without failure it is possible that we would never learn valuable lessons, and we would be less likely to have a crucial lesson stick.

While success allows lessons to be sketched for the immediate future, failure can allow a lesson to be etched into permanence.

4. Accept advice for the future. Anytime I have made a mistake, it’s important to share the mistake with key and trusted people around me. Not only have I made it a pattern to share my mistakes, it’s also been imperative that I seek valuable wisdom and insight from mentors in my life.

Without Godly advice for the future, it’s possible to stay paralyzed in the present failure.

5. Accept help from others. Not only is advice crucial, but it’s imperative that we humbly accept help from others when we make a mistake. As a leader, when I have made a mistake, it’s often a challenge to let others come alongside me and pick up the pieces. In some sense, I feel like I should own my mistake completely, which means I should pick up ALL the pieces. However, it’s essential to realize that a leader is leading a team towards a vision or a goal. As a team, you will rally to success, and as a team you will need to pick up the pieces of failure. When a team can be a part of a solution following failure, the failure is shorter lived and the solutions (and lessons) are owned by a greater number of people. However, it is still imperative that the leader is the one who working the hardest to turn around a failure.

How do you deal with failure? What has failure taught you? Who is helping you navigate through failure? 

Phil <><



photo credit: (e)Spry via photopin cc

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2 Responses to 5 Steps to Successfully Deal with Failure

  1. JP Demsick January 18, 2014 at 12:11 pm #

    I like the tenor of humility in your suggestions. Humility to accept responsibility, accept help, consult advice, and grow speeds our growth cycles.

    Why not face shortcomings and ask the experts if we really want to become successful?

    • PhilBell January 18, 2014 at 1:29 pm #

      JP, I think humility in the key that allows failure to become a success of the future. Humility helps the leader to look honestly and introspectively at themselves in the mirror…

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