Bouncing Back From a Bitter Failure

Leading an organization through human, technological and financial challenges is not easy. It is therefore not surprising that entrepreneurship leads us to bouts of weariness and depression, especially following a failure.


Hardened failure isn’t glamourous and isn’t something easily shared

There are many types of failure and some are more easily shared than others. I’m not talking about the “cute” failures we easily share with our online communities and that we glorify on social media with the hashtag #fail followed with a pride emoji. Our real deep failures are not the ones we share. They live within us in solitude and silence.


Following failure, what comes next? It depends on our willingness to accept the lesson we’ve learned, to allow ourselves to be vulnerable first to our own experience then to our friends, family, colleagues, employees, associates and customers. What comes after failure is the time we need to process what we’ve been through to help us see more clearly and building meaning from the experience.

It’s become cliché to say that we don’t fail, we only learn. However, the key here is to be successful in being benevolent towards oneself (and towards others who have failed as well) to help learn our lesson and propel ourselves forward.

To bounce back we must change our perspective. How do we do this for ourselves? How do we inspire our team?

Most of the time (in business and in life in general) we tend to skip past the post mortem of failure. Yet taking the time to fully understand and make meaning of failure or success are essential aspects of leadership. Inversely, not giving adequate time to make sense of what we’ve gone through and how that affects projects, particular with those experiencing failure, is to refuse to recognize the deeply flawed nature of any decision. The latter leaves the door wide open for repeated defeat.


The importance of team reflection after failure

It takes courage to admit defeat, especially if you’re the one responsible for failure. Contrary to the act of bravery, post-failure thinking isn’t executed under an adrenaline rush. Instead, it is a delicate exercise that can, without a doubt, cause real harm to the people involved as well as the organization. It is therefore important not only to do the exercise but to also put in place the appropriate benchmarking conditions.  In addition, if the exercise of team reflection is completed with respect, the story of failure will be imbued with authenticity and may be shared and talked about as way to help the organization grow.

It is said that in adversity we find strength and it’s here where the greatest character traits are forged. It’s only reasonable to think that the same applies to organizations which is a great way to see the world.

Headline photo credit: Niyas Khan
2nd photo credit: Oliver Sjöström
3rd photo credit: Alasdair Elmes

Stéphanie Dupuis

Stéphanie Dupuis is the president of THEMA Stratégie Conseil. An actuary by training and certified copywriter, she handles words, numbers, and results with ease to help entrepreneurs push their businesses to their full potential.

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Create, accompany and teach organizations to rebound, evolve and prosper in a healthy and sustainable way.

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