Berger Leadership Blog

Categories: Leadership

The right mindset for failure

Dan BergerPeople in leadership positions have high expectations for themselves and their employees. In the same vein as being reluctant to ask for help, we avoid failure. Failure means we didn't succeed. It hints at a lack of effort or competence, even though that's not usually the case.

But perfection is unrealistic and unachievable. All of us have experienced some sort of failure in our careers – whether it was not getting a job we applied for, not seeing the expected level of engagement in a new campaign, or not meeting an annual goal.

A recent post on The Powerful Mind blog outlines six reasons why failure is good for us:

  1. You learned something. After failure, it's important to reflect on the entire process to understand what went wrong and how you can address similar situations in the future more successfully.
  2. You did something. Uncertainty is hard to face. Just by taking steps to fix a problem or try something new shows bravery and confidence in yourself.
  3. It boosts your empathy. It's easier to connect with someone when you've shared an experience. Understanding the emotions of failure will help you be there for your employees when they fail.
  4. It makes you humble. Failure reminds us that we're not perfect or invincible. It reminds us there is always room for improvement.
  5. It's motivating. Great leaders don't mope around after failure. They use those emotions to motivate themselves to do better next time. How you respond to failure is also reflected by your employees, so get back on the horse and keep a positive attitude! 
  6. Success isn't always a good thing. Too much success can make us complacent and arrogant. And always working toward the next best thing can keep us from appreciating what we currently have.

I'm not arguing that we should strive to fail; rather, I'm arguing that we maintain the right mindset for failure. Understanding how to make the best of a situation and recognize the good that comes from failure is key not only in leadership, but all aspects of life.

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About the Author

B. Dan Berger, President and CEO, NAFCU

Dan BergerB. Dan Berger first joined NAFCU in 2006 and helped turn the association into the premiere advocate for the credit union industry. Since becoming president and CEO in 2013, Berger, who is also an author, economist, and one of Washington's top lobbyists, is credited with bringing national attention to key policy issues, while ensuring NAFCU's members meet policymakers at the highest levels of government.

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