Making Failure Temporary – Grow Great Daily Brief #238 – June 28, 2019

Increasingly I’m convinced there is one factor that is far superior to all others in determining our success.

Some of my favorite terms are…




They speak to a person’s refusal to quit. And I’m not talking about quitting things that aren’t working. Or quitting things that we discover we don’t want to accomplish. Quitting and changing one’s mind aren’t the same thing.

And I’m not talking about quitting because you realize you don’t want it badly enough. You thought you did but turns out – you didn’t.

I’m talking about pursuits we want, but when it’s hard, or when failure continues to slap us in the face (or worse)…our resolve weakens. And eventually, we just give up.

World-class athletes often speak of having “short memories.” When they experience defeat – and they all do – they don’t dwell on it. They make that failure temporary. The voice in their head doesn’t defeat them by trying to convince them that this is a permanent condition.

The one factor that trumps all others is OPTIMISM. Pure and simple, it’s belief.

The belief that this too shall pass is a quality we could all more of – optimism. But it’s a deeply personal issue and our head trash can be hard to clear out.

What’s the cause of your failure?

What’s the cause of your difficulties, troubles or issues?

It goes to the heart of how we think, which goes to the heart of how capable we are to view failures as temporary. Or not.

Don’t avoid responsibility. Our accountability is a critical component of how our resolve, strength, and determination are built up or weakened.

When you look at the causes of most of your failures…to what do you ascribe them? We all attribute them to something or somebody.

I’m aiming this at our leadership. Whether you own a business or you’re the CEO or executive or team lead…you’re the leader in whatever situation you’re in. Trouble ensues and you assign blame or responsibility on who or what?

Permit me to make a case for you to own it. Every bit of it. Why not?

There’s just not much – if any – downside to it. You’re the leader. It’s your responsibility. You’re accountable first to yourself, then to your organization or team. It’s the burden of leadership. It’s also the upside of leadership.

You choose to be the leader and accept that responsibility.

Or you choose to be the victim suffering failure because of somebody else or something beyond your control.

Yes, things happen beyond our control, but even those things can’t make us victims if we don’t allow it. Bad things happen to everybody. This isn’t about finding fault or assigning blame. It’s rather about how we choose to think about and what we choose to believe about adversity, obstacles, challenges and failures!

Choose to own it and move on.

That’s only possible if you can truly believe that this isn’t a permanent condition. Realize it happens to every human on the planet. More than you’ll ever know because you know your story best. You’re attracted to see the success – those mountain top moments – of others. You dwell more on your failures and more on the success of others. That doesn’t help. It’s unreasonable because it’s inaccurate.

Don’t sell your mind to failure. Just rent out your mind by the minute to it.

Failure loves to move in a take up permanent residence. That’s when you have to put up your NO VACANCY sign. And mean it.

You have to show the organization the way. If you refuse to keep pushing for innovation, creative problem-solving and overcoming challenges then you’ll quickly find your team resigning themselves to defeat. It’s a culture killer! A business killer. A life killer.

There’s another word we have to consider.


Failure erodes it. Success fuels it. Mostly.

What if we flipped failure on its head and put it in a chokehold? What if we leveraged failure to increase our confidence? Confidence that we’ll figure this out. And now sooner than later because we accept responsibility for the failure. It’s the protection we provide to ourselves and our company. We liberate our team to move forward because there’s no time for blaming. There’s only time to get on with figuring out how to improve. Confidence that we can and will do it.

That’s puts even more pressure on you as the leader. Because people are going to follow your lead. Which means they’ll follow your optimism or your pessimism. You decide.

See, I told you pessimism was way harder!

Let’s end the week and this month of June on the highest note possible. Whatever didn’t work out well for you in the first half of 2019…let it go. First, dissect it to you and your team can learn from it. Spend no time assigning blame. Take responsibility for it yourself. And take responsibility for nudging the team forward past it.

The challenges, constraints, and obstacles that foiled you in the first half have no place in the second half. Refuse to dwell on them. And don’t let any of your team members do it either. Remind everybody to have short memories. Preach the truth that failures are just temporary and useful to help everybody learn, understand and grow.

Be optimistic about the second half. Expect success. Express belief in your team’s ability to achieve it. Commit to remaining out front in that belief and in doing whatever you can to help each one of them reach higher.

The second half of 2019 is going to be spectacular. See to it. Make it happen.

Be well. Do good. Grow great!


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