Is avoiding failure a valid business and life strategy?

I was talking with a group the other day and I realized that many of their questions and concerns had to do with avoiding failure.

It suddenly brought to mind a lifelong string of discussions with various people that had gone nowhere, simply because the focus was on avoiding failure. No matter how much they talked about changing jobs or their lives, they eventually did nothing because the risk of failure was paramount in their minds.

I was reminded of "Helicopter Parents" who protect their children against failure beginning in nursery school and even when they join the workforce. These parents threaten litigation at the first sign of a school demerit, a failing grade, or a bad review from a manager.

I wonder if these parents realize how much damage they are doing to their children?

A failure is merely a sign that you have made too many mistakes and are not learning from them. A job, a relationship, or even your health can suffer when you make decisions on unsufficient or incorrect data.

Avoiding failure through parental intervention or by refusing to make decisions is a scenario for eventual disaster. There is no attention on making better decisions, only attention on avoiding responsibility for bad decisions.

If children are allowed to make mistakes and fail early, they learn from a very early age that certain courses of action are unsuccessful. Nails will not hold wheels on a cart. Stoves are hot. Knives and other sharp things must be handled carefully. Fragile things break unless handled gently. Unkind actions can cost one a friendship.

Lives or jobs where there is no room for mistakes of any kind are boring and extremely repetitious because a human is doing a job that a robot would do better. Where there is room for creative activity, there is infinite possibility for making mistakes and even failing.

If attention is put on understanding why mistakes and failures have occurred and changes are made to produce better results, a useful learning process occurs. If attention is put on flogging those who made the mistake, a different kind of learning process occurs. The floggees learn to never make a decision and to hide all evidence of errors or mistakes.

An acceptance of risk opens the door to adventure, mistakes, even failure, but it is the only way to create a life worth living. Careers and companies alike achieve greatness only through the process of overcoming mistakes and learning from them.

I wrote an article about this more than a year ago. It was called Growing wiser instead of just older.

You might find it interesting.

This entry was posted in Basic Business Concepts. Bookmark the permalink.

0 Responses to Is avoiding failure a valid business and life strategy?

  1. reminds me of the old joke about the parents, who had a child, kept him at home in a soft room, educated by tutors, until he was 21
    they let him out
    he died of excitement.

    The most competent folks in any field lives are a series of failures. If you don’t make mistakes, you will never be able to do things right, because you will not understand ‘how’ ‘what’ works.

  2. Sean Pecor says:

    I think it helps to keep a long term view. It helps you look beyond the failure towards your true objective so you can more quickly separate the components of your action that worked from what didn’t work. Then you can lighten your load by dropping the bad ingredients where you stand, carrying with you only the ingredients that worked. Sometimes it seems I have friends that drop everything, the good and the bad, and walk back to the beginning again, if that makes sense. It seems to hobble them in life, limiting their progress.

  3. Pam Blehert says:

    I enjoyed your post on “Is avoiding failure a valid business and life strategy?” and I agree that risk-taking is the best strategy for active living. If communication gets you in trouble, more communication, not less, is the answer.

  4. Marti says:

    I have not failed. I have discovered 1000 things that do not work.
    ~Thomas Edison

  5. Ron Campbell says:

    David, I greatly enjoy reading your articles. They help to keep in touch with Floyd and what is going on in our community.

    I would also like to thank you for posting the picture of the Country Swing displayed at the Jacksonville Center “Meet the Artist” even. As a result, I feel more a part of the community. Thanks again.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

95 − = eighty eight

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.