Success and failure

  • Published
  • By Col. Leslie A. Knight
  • 49th Medical Group commander

What is your biggest failure?  How did you handle it? Looking back, do you think you handled it well? Because really, the question is not IF you are going to fail, but it's HOW you are going to handle that failure. There are many options, and only a few of them are productive. If you mope around and beat yourself up, then the likelihood that you will handle this particular issue well the next time around is slim. If you adopt a defeatist attitude, you may not ever try that particular thing again. Then, you truly have failed. But if you look at one failure as a learning opportunity and make it your habit to always treat setbacks that way, you will look for opportunities to try again.

Thomas Edison said, "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work."  When you have an opportunity to try something new, your experience with failure in the past will color how you approach new things. I like to look at new endeavors as an experiment because experiments are allowed to fail. If I want to try a new way to do an old process, sometimes the entrenched troops will declare that the new way won't work. Don't tell them it's a new process. Say you want to try an experiment. Let them know that if it doesn't work, they can try again a different way.  Many times people are willing to experiment when they aren't willing to change.

Edison also said, "Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time."

On the flip side, success sometimes comes not from getting dealt a good hand, but in playing a poor hand well. You won't ever have everything you want to do the job perfectly. There are never enough people, supplies and money to do the job the way we envision it. But take what you have, and let your folks experiment to find brilliant new ways to make ends meet. Let them amaze you with their ingenuity. We get paid to handle problems, so don't run from them. If it weren't for the problems of our jobs, someone else could be paid to do it for half as much!

When you do succeed, try something harder next.  Resting on your laurels will only cause stagnation.  And stagnation stinks. Think swamps!   If you don't try something harder, you are wasting your talent and energy doing something that doesn't expand yourself or your abilities.

So... go forth and fail! Then try again, and let your people know it's OK to push the boundaries and have a failed experiment.  And when you succeed, try something harder.