FAIL to YOUR SUCCESS!
FAIL—The Success of a 4 Letter Word
Somewhere in our childhood we became conscious of what it means to “fail.”
There was shame in getting an “F” or not understand something. In fact it could become such a powerful social force NOT to fail, you begin to avoid how you could grow. You put yourself inside the very box we want to dismantle.
Many of us have some area of our life that is so “hot” to avoid failure, it often is stopping us from achieving the goals we really want—our dream job, relationships, childhood fantasies we could fulfill if we had the courage to move or go back to school. For many of us today, becoming the best manager of people transformation is what will keep us inspired in whatever path we choose, but that comes with a fear of rocking the boat. What ever you can dream as a goal that brings you engaged inspiration, on its downside there is often a fear of what it will take to achieve it.
What if the new norm is that to FAIL is to Succeed?
This is not the new norm, it is as old as humans themselves, it is just that the early adopters often are creating a trail of innovation for others to follow because most of them would never have had the courage to step out and be the first on the path. In our business world of the last few decades it became important to be perfect, not make mistakes, be cost cutting and revenue high, build your earnings for Wall Street and your peers. Innovation has suffered. We have become a country terrified of failing yet immersed in it in a worldwide global recession of failure.
And from this view we have a wonderful opportunity to grow and be innovative in our thinking out of this box! Think of how this failure could have ended without a dose of healthy perspective, innovation, collaboration and determination.
The man before the mouse, Walt Disney, formed his first animation company in Kansas City in 1921. He made a deal with a distribution company in New York, in which he would ship them his cartoons and get paid six months down the road. Flushed with success, he began to experiment with new storytelling techniques, his costs went up and then the distributor went bankrupt. He was forced to dissolve his company and at one point could not pay his rent and was surviving by eating dog food. And when he took a train from New York to the west coast, after a painful business failure of betrayal–he was befriended by a little mouse in his compartment and begin sketching him. The rest is history with plenty more spectacular failures and rip roaring successes!
Bring back the Walt Disney’s of the world who thought big, failed big, and kept on sprinkling his Pixie Dust of creativity to build a brand and legacy! Of what it means to fail, succeed and fail again to finally get your wish upon a star… Walt was a “Merlin” of what it means to embrace failure as a Merlin’s stone to success.
Failure according to Walt Disney: “To some people, I am kind of a Merlin who takes lots of crazy chances, but rarely makes mistakes. I’ve made some bad ones, but, fortunately, the successes have come along fast enough to cover up the mistakes. When you go to bat as many times as I do you are bound to get a good average.”
The Walt Disney Company, and all the best organizations of today that inspire innovation such as Pixar, Southwest Airlines, and Joie de Vivre Hospitality, bring in some part of this Creativity Model that drives innovation within company walls.
Up to bat first is a collaborative culture:
- Managers build teams that value honesty and trust.
- Ideas can be expressed honestly and without fear
- They create a peer culture and free up communication across teams
- They embrace a learning environment and empower their employees
- Teams value collaborative discussion and are willing to take creative risks
- The know the cornerstone of a healthy team and organization is the commitment to building genuine relationships where people know that their ideas and inspiration are valued in the overall mission of the organization
- Their Team members have a common understanding of company values, where they fit in the organization and how to focus their creative energy
- The leaders at the top inspire the culture below them. They walk the talk of mission, values and what it takes to learn from successful failure. They value the GNH, the Gross National Happiness of their employees
So reframe your thinking, change perspectives, it takes courage to FAIL and color outside the lines. In fact, many of the Venture Capitalists of today will look for leadership that has had failures in the past. They will have learned from those mistakes and most likely not repeat them in the same way. They know what it means to fail and have kept going to achieve success.
In fact we all do—all of us have experienced what it means to fail and most of these experiences have taught us valuable lessons. Lessons that we share with our staff, and integrate into our personal life.
Some lessons include becoming more playful with intuition and living with ambiguity in decision–making. Seeking collaboration and becoming flexible and quick to act when you know you must take action and could fail. Remember it takes courage to lead a team towards a big success or a celebrated failure but solid lessons will be learned.
The command and control organization of corporate America today is stifling a workforce brimming with creative ideas held in treasure chests inside millions of cubicles. Building a corporate culture of emotional intelligence, which includes the courage to innovate, is how we are going to revitalize our country back into engagement. And this is where all of us are being called upon to FAIL in order to succeed. You will have to be a voice against bullies and an even stronger voice for collaboration and trust building. Building trust with your peers to be something greater as a team than what you can accomplish by yourself is embraced and rewarded by top leadership.
Then give each other the permission to FAIL, one of the best attributes of childhood you can live with for the rest of your life!
Build a culture of Collaborative Leaders Who Excel In Communication and Magical Customer Service Moments!
Big Sky Thinking—Maria Felice Cunningham Chief Transformation Officer
Be Brave Women–Be Brave
“There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women”
These poignant words were quoted in my first session of Leadership California and each day they became more inspirational. Our gender is being called upon to be brave and have the courage to do the hard work of facilitating change. Many generations of young ladies behind us are more than qualified to fill our capitol steps and boardrooms. And by the way, so are we…
Fifty-one powerful women from the class of 2012 came to our state capitol to explore how to engage, and grow women in leadership positions. Not only in governmental positions of power, but in all sectors of business.
And in several conversations with these women, I found that most of us did not have a female mentor who helped us grow in our positions and in knowledge. Yet when someone did, their eyes sparkled with gratitude and their jobs were filled with commitment. The elephant laughing in this living room has been waiting for us to call it out and name it. We are not championing each other.
More often than not, women have not been helping other women to succeed in business in the same way that men have built their networks. So the positions of leadership we could occupy are not being filled by our gender unless we value elevating one another.
Ladies, we need to link arms and step forward into the leadership positions that await our talents!
Recently, McKinsey Research has taken a leadership stand in understanding the role of women in leadership in the business world, and what is keeping us out of positions of power. When the McKinsey Women Matter team asked corporate executives around the world what they valued in leadership attributes, these four skills were more commonly found in women:
- Intellectual stimulation
- Participatory decision—making or collaboration with all stake holders
- Setting expectations and building rewards
There are more women attending college today than men yet the leaking talent pipeline has continued to favor men in positions of power—why? Women start out their careers ready to take on the world and then they hit a wall. The invisible wall of juggling a family, going back to school to further their education or being the caretaker for their parents. These commitments, when married to the “face time” that has been the norm in positions of power traditionally held by men—have become the breaking point for women stepping off the career track. The current paradigm of company thinking rewards those who have a wife, not necessarily those who are a wife, mother, partner, adventurer or want a life!
I experienced this when my children were not yet in school. I was actually told a job would not fit me when they found out the age of my children. My commitment would be split at times they feared, and yes, they were right. Yet I knew I would have worked harder to succeed just because of this situation. In fact I continued on to do just this as my career progressed. But with the birth of my third child, I had to turn down juicy career advancing jobs because I was a mother first—the hours required would have adversely affected my family.
This paradigm will never change unless we as a gender make a commitment to encouraging work cultures that value job sharing, flex-time, work at home options and family values practiced at all executive positions. This is not only about sanity in a world that is communication saturated, this mindset allows for the thinking, dreaming and the innovation that comes when you are given time for free space creation.
So how do we change embedded management mindsets? The current adopted mindsets on WHY a woman cannot do a particular job due to other commitments?
It is well known that men have advanced based on potential while women rise based on performance. Since it takes much longer to build a legacy of performance, the men step into positions of leadership faster—a very frustrating circle for many women in middle management.
Yet if women in HR and management have the mindset of making sure they are advancing other women based on THEIR potential, what a difference that small change in behavior would make across company management and executive positions globally! The change that wants to emerge is being felt by all of us women. We have to help one another transition company thinking to one of embracing women in positions of leadership and helping one another to get there.
In other words, we need to be brave.
We must have the courage to speak up for our peers and mentor their growth. Changing a current management mindset takes a great deal of energy—plus you must also be prepared for the push back.
Continue on and be brave, be strong–have courage. This is a long journey that requires our dedication to modeling the exceptional leadership skills of women and how they influence the success of companies, families, communities and global politics.
Our legacy is laid out for us on what needs to change. So what will you do differently now and will you speak up? When your voice is trembling because you have chosen to push back against old thinking–remember to stay brave.
You have generations of women all standing behind you.
Maria Felice Cunningham
Big Sky Thinking
Class of 2012
Courage is not the absence of fear…
What takes us to success? Pushing our boundaries and growing through failure…
Read moreFace your fear.“The way to develop self-confidence is to do the thing you fear.”William Jennings Bryan“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”Eleanor RooseveltAffirmations and promises to speak to that person tomorrow won’t stop your knees from shaking. Oz will still be behind the curtain!Deeply reflect on the quotes above and face your fears–then take the next step. Standing up to face your fears is what really builds self confidence. There is no way around it, no pill, drink or exercise regime. As an adult you always have the decision to act, or to walk away. One way builds confidence and character, the other delays it.Here are some tips to make your journey easier:
- Be curious. When you are stuck in fear you are closed up. You tend to create division in your world and mind. You create barriers between you and other things/people. When you shift to being curious your perceptions go SWOOSH! and the world just opens up. Curiosity is filled with anticipation and enthusiasm. It opens you up. And when you are open and enthusiastic then you have more fun things to think about than focusing on your fear. How do you become more curious? One way is to remember how life has become more fun in the past thanks to your curiosity and to remember all the cool things it helped you to discover and experience.
- Realize that fear is often based on unhelpful interpretation. As humans we like to look for patterns. The problem is just that we often find negative and not so helpful patterns in our lives based on just one or two experiences. Or by misjudging situations. Or through some silly miscommunication. When you get too identified with your thoughts you’ll believe anything they tell you. A more helpful practise may be to not take your thoughts too seriously. A lot of the time they and your memory are pretty inaccurate.
Again, you have to face your fear. Because it is only then that you discover the thing that billions of people throughout history have discovered before you. Failure won’t kill you. Nor will being wrong. The sky will not fall down. That’s just what people that haven’t faced their fear yet think.The thing is to reframe failure from being something that makes your legs shake to something useful and important for the growth of your self confidence and your overall growth as a human being. Here are four ways that failure can help you out:
- You learn. Instead of seeing failure as something horrible you can start to view it more as a learning experience. When standing in the middle of a failure, you can ask yourself questions like: What’s awesome about this situation? What can I learn from this situation?
- You gain experiences you could not get any other way. Ideally, you probably want to learn from other people’s mistakes and failures. That’s not always easy to do though. Sometimes you just have to fail on your own to learn a lesson and to gain an experience no one can relate to you in mere words.
- You become stronger. Every time you fail you become more accustomed to it. You realize more and more that it’s not the end of the world. And, again, you get desensitized. You can handle things that would have been very hard to handle a few years back. Failing can also a have an exhilarating component because even though you failed you at least took a chance. You didn’t just sit on you hands doing nothing. And that took quite a bit of courage and determination.
- Your chances of succeeding increases. Every time you fail you can learn and increase your inner strength. So every failure can make you more and more likely to succeed.And remember, the world doesn’t revolve around you. You may like to think so. But it doesn’t. People really don’t care that much about what you do. They have their own life, problems and worries that the world revolves around them to focus on. They don’t think that much about you or are constantly monitoring what you do wrong or when you fail.
“Never bend your head. Always hold it high. Look the world straight in the face.”Helen Keller
“Confidence is courage at ease.”Daniel MaherI believe that one of the most common wishes is simply to feel more confident in various situations in life–no matter what is the outcome!This is where you fake it until you make it!The most important step in building self confidence is simply to take action. Working on something and getting it done. Sitting at home and thinking about it will just make you feel worse. Simple. But not always easy to do. To make it a bit easier, here are a three of my favourite ways to make it easer to take action:
- Be present. This will help you snap out of over thinking and just go and do whatever you want to get done. This is probably the best tip I have found so far for taking more action since it puts you in a state where you feel little emotional resistance to the work you’ll do. And it puts you in state where the right actions often just seem to flow out of you in a focused but relaxed way and without much effort. One of the simplest ways to connect with the present moment is just to keep your focus on your breathing for a minute or two.
- Lighten up. One way to dissuade yourself from taking action is to take whatever you are about to do too seriously. That makes it feel too big, too difficult and too scary. If you on the other hand relax a bit and lighten up you often realize that those problems and negative feelings are just something you are creating in your own mind. With a lighter state of mind your tasks seems lighter and become easier to get started with.So put some shoes on those quivering legs and take a step into action–this is the only way to go happily into an adventure might end in failure, but is sure to succeed for you eventually.