Monday, February 11, 2013

Failure Recovery: Eggs Belong in the Skillet

Every Monday in February, this four-week series covers a four step process for getting back up after you’ve fallen down.

It would be nice if our setbacks and major mistakes happened in solitude where they could remain our dirty little secrets; but rarely does that happen. Our worst moments are often very public. The one time I fell down the stairs it didn’t happen at home but in a packed IKEA store (luckily only my ego was bruised).

People (family, friends, co-workers, others …) often want a say about what they believe went wrong. They have an opinion to give and advice to share about our foible. In some cases this is a good thing but it can be a negative if their advice or opinion is more destructive than constructive. This is Step Two for a reason. Dealing with negative or destructive feedback is much harder to process if you haven’t dealt with your own feelings regarding your situation.

Be prepared to own your errors.  This one act can often cut negative criticism off at its core. When someone brings those things up, often, they are counting on you to deny it. Own it but don’t dwell on it … or let others do the same. Acknowledge what went wrong and your intention to move on. Tell them that you expect them to do the same.

If your mistake was largely the fault of someone else, don’t dwell on their contribution to the situation. Again, acknowledge and move on. Consistent blame is never a good idea. It keeps the blamer in a position of helplessness and self-pity. If the other person was unreliable, unethical or unprepared then you know how to deal with them (or not) in the future. Get over the urge to finger point.

Finally, change the way you look at failure. Trying and failing is infinitely better than not trying at all. To use a football analogy: fumbling the ball is embarrassing. It might even cost you the game. However, to fumble, you have to be in the game and on the field. Those who criticize from the sidelines aren’t playing. True, they won’t fumble but they won’t have the opportunity to catch the winning pass or even experience being on the winning team.

NEXT MONDAY:  Disaster Dissection – what happened and why.

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